3 Fatal Mistakes Companies Make With Internet Marketing

If you don’t make mistakes, you’re not working on hard enough problems.  And that’s a big mistake. - Frank Wilczek, 2004 Nobel Prize Winner in physics.

Don’t get me wrong.

Mistakes are not a bad thing.  In fact, when it comes to inbound or online marketing, making minor mistakes in the pursuit of business growth is all part of the game.  It just means you’re not afraid to try new things and improve.

On the other hand, making the same mistakes - over and over - is not a good thing either.

In my 13 years of marketing experience, specifically with inbound and online marketing, here are the top 3 fatal mistakes I have seen businesses make again and again.  Sure, there are probably more than the three I’ve listed below, but these are what I call the “fatal 3.”

My hope is, after reading this, if you’re making any of these 3 mistakes, you’ll make a “strategic pivot” in order to start using the web more effectively to fuel your business growth in the future.

Mistake #1:

Thinking that online marketing is a “set-and-forget” type of activity.

Online marketing is not a static activity.

You don’t just launch a website, put it out there for the world to see, then forget about.

Inbound or online marketing is organic. It’s about creating new content on a regular basis. It’s about testing new keywords and “working” your social networks in an effort to drive qualified traffic back to your website.

It’s about seeing what people are responding to, then creating and testing offers that get them to convert into leads.

It’s about nurturing those leads until they either buy something from you or say “no”. (Verbally or by unsubscribing from your list.)

Sure, there are some things that once set up you can leave alone (at least, for awhile), but once you get your “Internet marketing engine” up and running that’s when the actual work begins.

You must continually test, tweak, analyze and make pivots if you want to see results (kinda like going to the gym).

Most businesses simply do not put in the work that’s required to do the activities that will make them successful.

Mistake #2:

Buying into the whole idea that online marketing can help their business, but still remain skeptical, based on their previous results.

We get this all the time, people contact us because they know they need to be doing inbound or online marketing as part of their overall plan to grow their businesses, but are skeptical it will actually work.

This is usually the result of not doing the “work” that’s required, but more specifically, it’s because they doubt that they can actually generate “good” leads from their website.

They say things like, “we sell big ticket items” or “we’re not an e-commerce website. We don’t want to generate leads, we just want to create some brand awareness”.

In most cases, the real issue comes down to not having the right calls-to-actions (CTAs) on their website.  Most websites have what I call an “all or nothing” call-to-action (i.e., Free demo, consultation or trial).  These CTAs assume that every visitor that comes to your website is ready to buy or is “sales-ready”, which is not the case (and why conversion rates on these types of CTAs are extreme low).

Quick Tip: Create CTAs for the Different Stages of your Buying Cycle

Different offers (or CTAs) will appeal to different segments of the traffic visiting your website.

For example, a whitepaper or eBook might appeal to an early sales cycle visitor while your free consultation or trial will appeal to a later sales cycle visitor.

In order to capture the maximum amount of traffic hitting your site you need to cast a wide net.

That’s why we typically recommend having at least two or three CTAs on your homepage or other high traffic web pages (like a blog) - one for early, one for mid and one for late sales cycle visitors.


Mistake #3:

Thinking that success with online marketing comes down to one tactic.

Having a holistic or integrated approach to inbound or online marketing is not just a cliche or industry jargon.

It’s a reality.

With social media taking the spotlight in the past few years, this approach really took a back seat as business owners and marketers focused more on building their presence on social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and, recently, on Pinterest.

The fact is, to be successful with online marketing, you must do a variety of activities on a regular basis, which includes:

  • Driving traffic to your website, blog posts and landing pages
  • Creating/testing offers and calls-to-actions to generate subscribers and leads
  • Nurturing those subscribers and leads with relevant and ongoing content

Most importantly, you must determine how much revenue is going to be generated from leads via your inbound or online marketing efforts. From there, you’ll be able to estimate how much traffic and how many leads you’ll need to hit those income targets.

Mistakes will be made, but as long as you realize that online marketing is a process which requires a long-term commitment, your business will eventually start to grow as a result of your efforts.

Did I miss anything?




  • Adil

    Running mediocre campaigns on social and then wondering why the results don’t show

    • KentWakely

      Thanks for your comment, Adil. 

      What sort of warning signs do you think marketers should be alert for as clues that their social media campaigns might be mediocre?

  • Terence

    Afraid of experimenting. Failing is part of success - you will know what not to do next time.  

    • Kent Wakely

      Awesome insight, Terence.

  • http://primeoutsourcing.com/ PrimeOutsourcing

    Mistakes are good, because we will always know where we should improve at. Just never be afraid of failing and push yourself to move forward.. and always think that having mistakes is normal! This applies to everything, especially in Internet marketing.

    Thanks for sharing this one. It is worth knowing!