Marketing Mistakes: The 3 Cardinal Sins You Must Avoid

Marketing is a crucial aspect of any business, but it’s easy to make mistakes that could cause more harm than good.

Sometimes we think we have found the right marketing strategy, but when we put it into practice we end up failing miserably.

Unfortunately there’s almost an endless number of mistakes we can make, but only some of them are so bad to the point of having earned the (dis)honor of being called “cardinal sins”.

You might have heard of the seven deadly sins, but in the world of marketing, there are only three cardinal sins that can lead to your company’s downfall.

Looking closely at small, mid-sized and even big companies’ marketing habits, it’s clear that these three mistakes stand out as the most damaging.

Let’s find out what these mistakes are about, why so many companies end up making them, and how to avoid them saving time, money, and resources.

So, what are these three sins?

Let’s start with the first one…

SIN #1: Going too broad

This means trying to target everyone and anyone, instead of honing in on your specific target audience.

At first this strategy may seem to be a good one since it may result in increased traffic to a company’s website or social media pages. 

But, as we often have to learn, quantity doesn’t mean quality and if you try to please everyone, you’ll end up pleasing no one.

A lot of the visitors that we attract when we go too broad do not have the problem that the company’s product or service solves and end up wasting our time and our resources in an ineffective marketing campaign.

Trying to attract as many people as possible may also result in not attracting the right people for our business at all.

This symptom can be observed when the marketing team deviates from publicizing the product and the message becomes too far removed from what the company actually offers.

Ultimately, this can result in an inability to convert visitors into customers, as they do not have a need for the product, and the ones that do don’t know that they can find what they need in our company.

So why do marketers make this mistake?

Often, it is because the metrics used to measure marketing performance are linked to traffic.

In other words, the more people that visit a company’s website or social media pages, the better the marketing team is perceived to be performing.

While the numbers may make a company appear larger and impress management, ultimately it is sales and revenue that matter most.

If visitors are not converting into customers, then the increased traffic is ultimately useless.

Therefore, it is essential for marketers to work closely with Sales, to define the target audience and tailor the marketing efforts to specific needs and interests.

This way, you’ll attract the right customers and improve your chances of making a sale.


SIN #2: Forcing visitors to become leads

The second sin is closely related to the first sin and it is forcing visitors to leave their email on the site.

In this scenario, marketers are attracting to the website many people who are not interested in the product or service being offered and, on top of that, they force these visitors to sign up for something and leave their email address.

This escalates the traffic problem to a lead problem.

These leads are then entered into the customer relationship management (CRM) system, and the sales team is required to deal with unqualified leads.

This is a waste of time, resources, and money, as these leads are unlikely to convert into sales in the future. 

What are the causes of this sin?

In many companies the marketing team is pressured to generate as many leads as possible. This often leads to acquiring leads without really considering how many of them can be converted into paying customers.

Like in the case of website traffic, if “number of leads” is one of the metrics against which the performance of marketers is measured, the marketing team will tend to generate as many leads as possible, irrespective of their quality.

Many companies try to circumvent this issue by defining “marketing qualified leads” (MQL) and “sales qualified leads” (SQL).

However, the hard truth is that only sales qualified leads move the needle… therefore collecting marketing qualified leads is a pointless exercise that results in a waste of time, resources, and money.

If you want your company to succeed, you should strive to concentrate your marketing efforts to initiatives that generate sales qualified leads.

Marketing qualified leads are not real leads and should not be included in the CRM.

The effort required to “grow” those leads into qualified leads (nurturing) is often too big to justify the cost, especially when considering that a better positioning or better marketing plan would have avoid the need to nurture those leads entirely.

What can the marketing team do differently then?

Instead of forcing visitors to become leads, companies should focus on creating a better user experience that favors organic lead generation. 

This means that only who’s interested in the product or services rendered by the company will leave an email address and become a lead.

But for this to work, marketers need to put out the right message that will attract the right people to the funnel.

The visitors should be genuinely interested in the product or service that the company offers and this will give the sales team better chances to close the deals.

To promote this way of marketing, the marketing team should be rewarded for the number of sales qualified leads it generates, not for the total number of leads.

At the same time it’s also important to create a feedback loop between the sales and marketing teams.

The marketing team should provide the sales team with highly qualified leads that are more likely to buy, and the sales team should be providing feedback to the marketing team about what’s working and what’s not.

This way, both teams can work together to achieve the common goal of generating revenue for the business.

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SIN #3: Bad or poor tracking system

The third and last sin is not less important than the other ones and has to do with tracking.

For an online business, having a good and robust tracking is a must.
This is necessary to ensure that marketing efforts are effective, and to understand what works and what doesn’t.

Without tracking, companies risk spending money on activities that are not converting or using marketing channels that do not yield results.

Furthermore, companies often think that they are tracking their metrics, but the tools they are using are not set up correctly or the implementation of the tracking systems is not structured well enough to provide meaningful insights.

There’re many ways in which a tracking system can break.
A very common one involves UTM parameters.

These parameters are used to track where visitors are coming from, with the help of specific URLs created whenever distributing an article or a marketing asset.

For this strategy to be successful, UTM parameters have to be applied to every page asset distributed and they must adhere to specific rules.

However, many companies are not consistent with this practice or they don’t enforce enough quality control to make sure their UTM links are always working.

The result is broken tracking, which generates fragmented data and ends up in the impossibility to measure properly the performance of marketing campaigns.

Another issue related to tracking includes not analyzing what visitors do on the site (i.e. not tracking events or goals, not recording browsing sessions, …) and in general not collecting information one can use to have meaningful insights on what could be improved to leverage specific behaviors of visitors or to make their navigation easier.

Tracking the activities of the single users on the company website is actually a great way of understanding their interests, their habits, and to test the effectiveness of the website design.

The lack of this data can cost greatly in terms of money and resources spent on the marketing itself and on the building of the website.

Therefore, it is important that marketing teams are properly trained in using tracking systems to ensure that their efforts are effective and efficient.

Companies should prioritize implementing consistent and structured tracking systems to make informed decisions based on meaningful data.

By doing so, they can improve their marketing strategies, increase conversions, and ultimately, boost their bottom line.

Conclusion and advice

Avoiding these mistakes is easier said than done so some final advice that may be useful to say goodbye forever to these sins:

  • Focus on quality, not quantity.
    While it may be tempting to try to reach as many people as possible, focus on attracting the right audience. This will increase your chances of converting visitors into customers and ultimately generating revenue.

  • Craft a clear message.
    Once you know who your target audience is, craft a message that speaks directly to them, highlighting how your product or service solves their problem or meets their needs and avoiding using jargon or complicated language.

  • Create valuable content.
    Instead of forcing leads to sign up for something, create content that provides value to your target audience. This could include blog posts, webinars, or ebooks.

  • Use a lead scoring system.
    Implementing a lead scoring system can help you determine which leads are most likely to convert into customers.

  • Communicate regularly.
    Create a feedback loop between the sales and marketing teams scheduling regular meetings or using collaboration tools such as Slack or Trello.

  • Set common goals.
    Align the goals of the sales and marketing teams so that they are working towards the same objectives.

In conclusion, these three cardinal sins of marketing can be detrimental to any business.

Going too broad, forcing visitors to become leads, and failing to track user’s behavior will waste time, resources, money, and ultimately result in a loss of revenue.