The 7 Deadly Online Marketing Sins

online marketing sins

Having completed innumerous website and online marketing audits over the years, I’ve noticed many small to medium businesses facing similar issues, commonly neglecting important marketing methods that they should, and could easily be taking advantage of. Here I detail the top seven neglected aspects of online marketing, each with its own common set of issues. Your mission: take note of the issues effecting your site and start working on them to increase your traffic, leads, or sales.


Sin #1: Neglecting Website Analytics

Problem: Total lack of website analytics

Resolution: You cannot improve what you cannot measure. Install Google Analytics, it’s free, it’s awesome, and it is more than adequate for 99% of websites.

Problem: Lack of, or incorrectly / incompletely configured website Analytics

Resolution: Do an audit to make sure the analytics tracking code is installed on every page of your site. If your sites runs on a CMS, you can usually install the analytics tracking code in your website’s header file, it will then be added to all pages on the site. If that didn’t make any sense to you, ask your developer to do it.

Problem: No conversion goals

Resolution: Identify all website goals (enquires, leads, purchases, email signups etc) and configure conversion goals in your analytics platform.

Problem: E-commerce website not tracking sales data

Resolution: Turn on e-commerce tracking, this can be tricky so you’ll probably need to get your developer to do it, but it’s well worth the effort. Some sites use third party checkouts which may or may not support Google Analytics e-commerce tracking natively.

You’ll want to point your developer in this direction: Google Analytics E-commerce tracking guide

Problem: Google Analytics and Google Adwords are not linked / Auto-tagging not enabled

Resolution: If your Google Analytics and Adwords accounts are not linked, and auto-tagging is not enabled, you’re not going to be able to track which traffic source is which. There are a number of other benefits to linking your accounts too, such as access to additonal reports, the ability to import Analytics goals into Adwords, as well as advanced remarketing lists.

Linking the two isn’t too difficult, as long as you have the right access levels. You can the find instructions here.

Then make sure Adwords auto-tagging is turned on, to differentiate traffic sources in Google Analytics – instructions here.


Sin #2: Neglecting Search Engine Optimisation

Problem: Website not indexed

Resolution:Make sure the site and all important content within is crawlable and indexable by search engine bots.

The easiest ways to check this are:

1. Go to and type in (replace with your actual website address) and see if / how many results are returned.

2. If you have access to Google Webmaster Tools (if not, I strongly suggest verifying your site ASAP) login and check the Index Status report, and run the fetch as Googlebot tool.

Problem: Website lacks SEO basics

Resolution: Make sure each page of your site includes a descriptive title tag and meta description. Include lots of relevant text content – make sure important your content isn’t in images or flash as search engines cannot ‘read’ the content within. Use image alt tags on each image on your site.

Problem: Website doesn’t rank highly – part 1

Review the amount and quality of text content on your site, now do the same for your top competitors.

Who is doing the best job describing their services / products?

Which sites have regularly updated blogs with engaging posts visitors are likely to enjoy and share?

If a competitor is clearly doing better, make it your mission to outdo them, provide the most engaging and in-depth content. Think about important keywords and variations of your keywords when writing website copy – but don’t overdo it, always write for humans, not search engines.

Problem: Website doesn’t rank highly – part 2

Next, check how many websites link to yours, and whether there are great websites linking to your site naturally, or junk sites that someone has purposely built to your site in an effort to increase your total number of links.

There are a number of tools you can use to do this, a couple with at least free trials / limited free reporting include: Ahrefs, SEMRush, and OpenSiteExplorer.

If you’ve got a decent mix of sites, mostly good sites with naturally given links, you’re probably ok in this respect. However, if your link profile is predominantly junk links, you may have a problem which requires a link clean-up.

Now have a look at the link profile of your top competitors, how do they compare? Again, you want to be doing better, in terms of quality.

Problem: Website traffic suddenly fell off a cliff

Resolution: Diagnose potential penalty handed down from Google.

There are two common types of penalty we look for when this happens. One is concerned with low quality links, the other with low quality content.

Undertake a backlink profile analysis. If most of your links are junk, you could have been penalised. If you have, you might be looking at a rather long process of removing links and submitting reconsideration requests to Google.

Next, check that the content on your site is unique, awesome, and plentiful, and that it has not been blatantly copied and pasted from other sites.

Tip: E-commerce websites need to write their own unique product descriptions. Don’t simply copy and paste the manufacturer’s as there are bound to be many competing sites doing the same.


Sin #3: Neglecting Content Marketing

Problem: Not regularly creating awesome content

Resolution: Create a content schedule and stick to it. Share the load; if you have employees that know their stuff, as them to pitch in.

Problem: Boring industry for content marketing

Resolution: Even industries which may seem boring can produce interesting and engaging content. Remember your target demographic (or, take it to the next level with customer personas) and brainstorm new content ideas.

Try to think outside the box, think about the science behind your product, the history, how-to guides, and consider what other interests does your target demographic have that you may be able to work a unique angle on?

Problem: Content not being read

Resolution: Remember, you need to market your content. It’s not enough to just post it to your site/blog.

Do a social media post about your new content, include it in your newsletter, try manually reaching out to influencers in your niche to give them the heads-up about the awesome new post on your blog (it is awesome, right?)

Persistence is key with content marketing, keep on working on creating better content that gets more views and shares. Learn what kind of content your viewers respond to and produce more of it.

Problem: No team member with writing skills

Resolution: Use your internal team to brainstorm content ideas, create a brief, and outsource the writing.

You can either manually research and outreach to writers in your niche (check your industry blog / magazine contributors) or you can try a service such as Textbroker.

It may take a while, but once you’ve found an outsourced writer that suits your style you can send them direct orders, or even create your own team of writers.


Sin #4: Neglecting Social Media

Problem: Not using social media

Resolution: If your target demographic uses Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+ or any other social network, you should consider having a presence there also. There is a lot of evidence to suggest people are more likely to buy from brands they have been exposed to on social media. Social media also presents an opportunity to get in front of your target demographic and build awareness.

Problem: Social media profiles never updated

Resolution: Create a posting schedule and stick to it. Organise content to share ahead of time. Want to save time and post to multiple social profiles at once? Checkoout BufferApp.

Problem: No engagement on social media posts

Resolution: Time your posts so that your users are online to actually see see it. With many social sites, the visibility of your post decreases quite quickly as other pages and users continue to post new content. Don’t be afraid to repost content, especially if you can reframe it, and post it at a different time / day.

You can also try the following to increase engagement:
Share awesome content that people will actually want to like, comment on or share.
Writing a text post? Find an eye catching image and include it. Posts with images get far more engagement than standard text posts.
Ask your followers questions. You can do this as a standalone post, or with a standard post asking for feedback after your content.

Problem: Social media fan base not growing

Resolution: Follow the prior steps in regards to posting consistently, posting engaging content, and try simply asking fans to share your content. Also try:

  • Including links to your social media profiles on your website, in your email footer.
  • Try asking people to follow your social media profiles once they have completed a goal on your website.
  • Try advertising to attract more followers. On Facebook this is known as a ‘Likes’ campaign.


Sin #5: Neglecting Email Marketing

Problem: No email list for visitors to sign-up to

Resolution: You should be collecting email addresses of your leads and customers. Once you have their email address you can reach them again with promotions, newsletters or new products/services.

Problem: Email list not growing

Resolution: It’s not easy getting people to signup to mailing lists, most of us have been spammed and have found it difficult or impossible to unsubscribe from some offending lists. Here are some suggestions to increase subscribers:

  • Make sure your newsletter opt-in in visible.
  • Consider using a lightbox pop-up, I know what you’re thinking, but they are very effective
  • Consider incentivising opt-ins with discounts or offers for subscribers.
  • If you run a giveaway make opting in to your email list an entry option.

Problem: Email marketing not getting results

Resolution: You’re sending emails out to your list, but your not sure if anyone is even opening them. Try:

  • Test the time/day and frequency that you send emails.
  • Split test your subject lines.
  • Make sure you include clear calls to action within emails.


Sin #6: Neglecting Advertising

Problem: Never advertised online

Resolution: You need to at least test the waters with online advertising. But first, you should know your ROI – how much you can afford to spend to attract a new lead or purchase while remaining profitable.

Problem: Set it and forget it advertising campaigns

Resolution: You setup an Adwords campaign three years ago and haven’t touched it since. It seems to work, you think!?

A lot changes, and often with ppc. There are many subtle settings and options that can make a huge difference in how profitable and effective your campaigns are. If you have the know-how, log into your account, review your targeting, keywords and ads.

Problem: Targeting, or lack thereof

Resolution: Within Adwords and Bing, make sure your geo-targeting is accurate, including whether you need to be targeting only those within your defined location/s, or those not physically in your defined location, but searching for information within it.

You also want to consider whether you should be running mobile preferred ads, or turning mobile ads off. Is your site responsive or do you have a mobile version of your website?

With Facebook you also have location targeting, but with Facebook’s advanced demographic targeting capabilities, you really want to think how you can take advantage of running ads to your target demographic.

Problem: Ad scheduling

Resolution: Running ads 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? In most cases this is not optimal and is likely costing you money.

In Adwords and Bing it’s quite simple to configure ad scheduling.

Facebook, however, does not offer ad scheduling. If you don’t want to handle ad scheduling manually, you’ll need to use a third party tool.

Problem: Broad / irrelevant Keywords

Resolution: Review your keywords. Learn about keyword match types, and keyword grouping.

Problem: Not split testing ads

Resolution: In Adwords and Bing, if you’r not testing at least two desktop, and two mobile preferred ads for each ad group, your not working on improving your results.

You also want to split test your Facebook ads. Consider split testing ads for each placement option, and think about testing different bidding options.

What can you test? Headlines, descriptions, images, call to actions etc.

Problem: Not using landing pages

Resolution: Sending all of your ad traffic to your homepage? You’re doing it wrong.

If you’re advertising a product or service, send your traffic to a dedicated product or service page.

If you’re doing lead generation, use a dedicated landing page designed with conversion in mind. Think about removing your typical menus, sidebars and anything else that can distract a visitor from completing your conversion goal.

Problem: Not split testing landing pages

Resolution: Split test landing pages. Try testing different headlines, hero images, calls to action etc. For big results, fast, consider a radical redesign (completely new design) landing page test, not just slightly modifying your existing landing page design.


Sin #7: Neglecting Remarketing

Problem: No remarketing list

Resolution: Even if you’re not advertising right now, even if you have no plans to advertise, you should have remarketing tags installed on your site and be building a remarketing list.

Problem: Not testing different remarketing list membership lengths

Resolution: If you are running remarketing campaigns, you want to be testing different membership lengths – the amount of time since the visitors last visit to your site. Some sites find that they get the best results targeting visitors within 7-14 days of last visit. Others, with more complex buying cycles, or a much bigger investment, find that longer memberships lengths work better.

Problem: Not using different creative for remarketing campaigns

Resolution: Typically you don’t want to be using your standard advertising creative in remarketing campaigns. You might use dynamic retargeting that shows the users the last product/service the visitor looked at. You might try running a promotion or offering a discount.

Problem: Not testing different remarketing list combinations

Resolution: Only got as far as setting up a remarketing list for all visitors with x days that did not convert?

You might do much better with remarketing list combinations. How about targeting those visitors that did not convert, that looked at at least 3 pages on your site? Or only those who added a product to a shopping cart, but did not end up purchasing.

Problem: Not setting Adwords frequency caps

Resolution: Remarketing is cool, but don’t be creepy about it. If a visitor sees your ad 39 times in a day, they’ll probably be creeped out about you stalking them.

Problem: Not using Facebook website remarketing

Resolution: If you have an Adwords remarketing campaign, you want to get on board with Facebook remarketing. It used to be the case that you had to run Facebook remarketing campaigns through a third party, but now you can do it directly via Facebook.

Getting started is as easy as adding Facebook’s remarketing tag to your site. Combined with Facebook’s demographic and interest targeting capabilities, it’s extremely effective.

In closing…

That’s my quick summary of common online marketing issues. I hope there was a takeaway there that you can apply today to improve your marketing. The good news is, I’m going to be addressing each ‘online marketing sin’ with a series of new posts, a walk-through style guide on how to be awesome at every aspect of online marketing.

So, what are you waiting for? Go get started, I guarantee these will help you take your online marketing to the next level.

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