5 Bad Habits that Digital Marketers Need to Quit Today


The digital marketing landscape is noisy. With all the tools, channels, and platforms out there, marketers have more resources at their disposal than ever before. But too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.

It can be easy to misuse those tools, waste time analyzing the wrong metrics, and neglect vital data. Let's take a look at a few more bad habits digital marketers need to break.

Using guilt-trip marketing tactics.

What is guilt-trip marketing? Strategies that make visitors feel guilty or bad for opting out.

For example, let's say someone lands on a cookbook website looking for an easy pasta sauce recipe.

A pop-up ad immediately assaults them. (We deliberately chose "assault" over "greet". It's a more fitting description of how guilt-trip marketing works.)

The pop-up gives them two options:

Enter their email to have gourmet recipes delivered to their inbox every week.

Or, if they're not interested, they have to click a link that says, "No thanks, I don't like good food."

When you use guilt-trip marketing messages, this is what you're saying to your customer:

  • "If you don't subscribe to our newsletter, you clearly don't like quality content."
  • "If you don't sign up for our free trial, you clearly don't like saving money."
  • "If you don't donate $3 by midnight, you clearly don't care about your community."
bad digital marketing habits

Why are you blaming your website visitors, prospects, and customers for your bad marketing?

Seriously. Guilt-trip marketing is the antithesis of everything marketing stands for:

  • Caring for your customers
  • Helping people
  • Delivering value

Does this mean you need to ditch pop-up ads entirely? No. Only you know which marketing strategies work best for your business.

But you DO need to ditch guilt-trip marketing.

Ask yourself a few questions:

  • "Would I ever dream of saying this to a customer in person?"
  • "Would I want a business to say something like this to me?"
  • "Is this message the best way to convert website visitors into loyal customers?"

If the answer is no, it's time to bid guilt-trip marketing goodbye.

Analyzing useless metrics.

Digital marketers are truly spoiled for choice when it comes to analytics. But reviewing the wrong metrics is a great way to waste time, effort, and money.

It's a good idea to keep tabs on your website traffic. But traffic itself is virtually worthless if it's not driving conversions or revenue.

bad digital marketing habits

Same goes for Facebook fans, Twitter followers, etc. If you have 50,000 Facebook fans, great. But how many of those followers are engaging with your content? Better yet, how many of those followers even see your content in their feed?

Don't fall down the analytics rabbit hole. Identify key metrics that drive success for your business and focus on those. A few examples of important metrics to track:

  • Conversions
  • Cost per acquisition
  • Return on ad spend
  • Qualified leads generated

This might look different for your business. Finding the right metrics will take some trial-and-error. But it's a much better use of your time and marketing budget.

Relying too much on paid ads to generate leads.

Paid ads are easy to set up. Choose some keywords, set a budget, and you're golden.

Of course, nothing in digital marketing is that simple. You'll need to tweak paid ad campaigns to ensure the best ROI and ad spend.

According to content strategy consultant Kris Hughes, paid ads shouldn't be the backbone of your lead generation strategy. Sure, they're a great way to boost brand awareness. But they're also a great way to drive your cost-per-lead way up.

bad digital marketing habits

Paid ads should supplement organic promotion — not the other way around.

Strike a balance. Cast a wide net and use every content creation tool at your disposal. Email, web chat, social media, podcasts, YouTube — these are just a few platforms you can use to deliver value without spending a fortune.

Prioritizing list growth over every other email marketing metric.

Digital marketers are conditioned to chase after more subscribers. Because more subscribers equals more customers and more revenue — right?


(So very, very wrong.)

200,000 email subscribers seems pretty impressive on the surface. But how many of those subscribers open your emails, click through to your site, or convert?

A better question: what percentage of those subscribers don't interact with your emails at all?

If you're not sure, or you care more about growth than engagement, that's a problem. Nip that bad digital marketing habit in the bud ASAP.

You should scrub your email list regularly. Stop wasting time and money marketing to unengaged subscribers.

How do you know when to scrub your email list? The signs will be pretty obvious. First, your open rates will trend down and your unsubscribe rates will trend up.

Don't leave it up to your subscribers to unsubscribe if they're not interested. Prove you value their time — and their right to a tidy inbox — by removing them from your list if they don't interact.

Creating content for search engines instead of humans.

One of the best ways to build topical relevance has nothing to do with off-site strategy or technical SEO.

It starts with creating content that answers your customers' questions and solves their problems.

You can leverage Google to do this. Take an hour to Google your target keywords. Scroll down to the "People also ask" box to find relevant content ideas. Then, check out the related searches section at the end of the search results page.

Of course, you'll need on-site, off-site, and technical SEO to rank higher and build authority. But the key is to create content for your readers, prospects, and customers first.

Everyone wants to rank on the first page of Google — but that first-page rank is worthless if your content isn't relevant to your buyer personas, prospects, and existing customers.

Fortunately, Google is making this bad digital marketing habit easier to fix with every algorithm update.

Bad habits that digital marketers need to ditch today: summing up

Digital marketing has reshaped customer expectations through instant gratification.

This is a blessing and a curse.

On one hand, customers and prospects enjoy immediate, 24/7 access to their favorite businesses.

On the other, the competition is fierce, and attention spans are dwindling. Your customers see as many as 10,000 ads per day. That's 70,000 per week. 3,650,000 per year.

You can't expect to win over customers by hiding behind a screen and bullying people into doing business with you. Guilt-trip marketing is akin to "keyboard warriors" on social media.

Don't be a keyboard warrior. Make your marketing a force for good. Be intentional about every approach, and the rest will fall into place.

Conversational marketing can help your business break some of these bad digital marketing habits for good. Browse our archives to learn how:

What is conversational marketing?

Is your business ready for conversational marketing?

10 compelling reasons why your business needs conversational AI