7 Reasons For Digital Marketing Failure In Startups – in Economic Times by Pradeep Chopra

6 Min Read. |

Are you also struggling to produce results using digital marketing? You are not alone. Read on to see if you have committed one or more of the mistakes.

When I heard about Digital Marketing, I was so excited to leverage it to fulfill my dream of creating a billion dollar business. Case studies of ever increasing number of startups, which are using the power of Social Media, Search, Email and Mobile marketing to acquire millions of visitors and users were so inspiring. The most important challenge of acquiring customers for our venture seemed to have been solved.

Without wasting any time, I jumped onto digital media and started investing time on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google. When I didn’t see any significant results, I started spending money to advertise on Facebook and Google and I was waiting to see new customers buying our product. Surprisingly, these channels only made my purse lighter without adding new customers.

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I then realized that we don’t have the required skills to make use of these channels and thus we should hire an agency. We got an agency on board within few days and were now eagerly looking forward to adding new customers but we were wrong again. I thought that probably we didn’t spend sufficient time to identify right agency for us and after wasting significant budget, I decided to hire an in-house digital marketing expert. The immediate challenge we faced was lack of benchmark and experience to hire right candidates. Every professional we interviewed seemed to be an expert knowing everything about digital marketing.

Does this sound familiar? Are you also struggling to produce results using digital marketing? You are not alone. In fact, we have learnt from most of these mistakes over last 15 years. You must have committed one or more of the below listed mistakes while leveraging digital marketing whether you are working with an agency or doing it in-house.

1. Don’t measure the Cost Per Acquisition: While everyone is aware that measurability is one of the key advantages of digital media, a large percent of business owners fail to define key metrics and don’t put relevant structure including using relevant tools to measure the progress of their digital marketing campaigns.

Moreover, the entire focus of measurability is on increasing reach in terms of views and visitors. While reach is necessary, it’s not sufficient. Imagine if your website receives more than double the traffic of your competition but if your website conversions are less than half of your competition- you would still be having lower returns than your competition. In addition to paying attention to increasing your website reach, paying attention to the entire customer funnel so as to meet your ultimate objectives is the key to success in leveraging digital media.

2. Believe that it belongs to Technology Department: Not realizing that marketing head should own digital marketing, as digital marketing is a marketing function, a large number of startup founders treat digital marketing as a technology piece.

While digital marketing leverages technology for reasons such as measurability or scaling up, it’s still a marketing function. Expecting technical team to create success of digital marketing is an obvious recipe for failure. This problem is not limited to startups; large corporations are also the victims of such treatment of digital marketing.

3. Think that outsourcing is the solution: While digital marketing agencies have an important role to play, thinking that they will take care of end-to-end execution is one of the reasons for high failure rate of agency-client relationships. Interestingly, it’s even a bigger problem in case of large corporations, who are used to outsourcing.

We’ve run digital marketing agency in the past and have had the opportunity to work with variety of businesses ranging from startups to Fortune 500 companies. At Digital Vidya, one or more companies approach us every week for their digital marketing requirements. A good percentage of them would have failed to create success with their agency partner in the past. Our discussion with them reveals that either they didn’t have a right agency in place or they didn’t play the role they should have and expected the agency to be solely responsible for the success of their digital marketing initiative. Getting themselves educated about the appropriate approach to leverage digital helps them restructure their thinking and processes related to digital marketing.

4. Hired a Digital Marketing professional on your ignorance: Hiring one or more digital marketing professionals without having clarity on overall digital marketing strategy is not much different than outsourcing digital marketing responsibility to an external agency.

One of the most valuable takeaways of our digital marketing program for business owners and senior marketing professionals from large brands is that they realize that they have an important role to play in creating digital marketing strategy, whether they want to work with an external agency or build an in-house team.

5. Doing Social Media because everyone else is doing: Like in other business functions, our decisions around where to begin and what to focus on in digital marketing are largely influenced by what others are doing or what’s popular at present.

Just because Social Media is the talk of the town is not a sufficient reason for a startup to invest in it. Rather than influencing your decision based on the popularity of a medium, the choice of a digital media platform should be based on business objective and target audience. Social Media may be useful for brand promotion for a large organization while Search Engine Marketing may be more appropriate for a startup if lead generation is the primary objective.

6. Expect overnight Success: Fascinated by mind-blowing statistics associated with digital media platforms and by ever growing number of online businesses, every organization who embark upon the journey of digital marketing believes that it’s a magical wand, which will solve their sales & marketing objectives overnight.

While digital media is a powerful weapon to accelerate business growth, a sustainable success in digital marketing normally takes few months if not more and this journey to success would have involved few failures. Digital Marketing avenues such as Search Engine Optimization (SEO) require couple of months before a business can see any substantial results. Expecting quick results normally leads to giving up on the not-so-visible but real progress campaigns, which would have produced desired objectives if given the time it requires.

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7. Underestimate the importance of Content: Majority of digital marketing campaigns relies on regular flow of high quality, relevant content, the requirement for which is highly underestimated by a large percentage of small businesses.

When faced with scarcity of content, either these businesses end up compromising on the quality of the content or end up giving up their digital marketing campaigns.

Do you agree that one or more of the above reasons prevent success of Digital Marketing in startups? Is there any other reason you would like to list here? Share your experiences in the comments below or feel free to reach me on Twitter at @pradeepchopra.

The author is a serial entrepreneur. He’s the CEO of Digital Vidya, one of Asia’s leading digital marketing training companies. If you want to learn Digital Marketing then you can find more about their programs at https://www.digitalvidya.com.

As published in Economic Times.

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  1. pawan

    One of the main reason for failure of starters are that institutes here only show dream to starters but don’t teach appropriate technique and tools for starters.

  2. Ayesha

    I agree completely with the above article… businesses need to focus on the conversions of the likes and content is of course the King in helping create that.

  3. Vishal Sharma

    Businesses don’t understand that SMM can make or break the brand ,getting on SM platforms for branding without doing survey and understanding your product and target audience can lead to disasters.


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