Six reasons why small businesses fail in digital marketing

digital marketing

More than 600,000 new small businesses start each year in the United States. In total, there are more than 30 million small businesses in the country, accounting for 99.9% of all US businesses, according to Review 42.

Of those 600,000, only 50% will survive for more than five years. That could be due to several reasons; the current economic climate doesn’t help, but the truth is many new businesses fail. It might be simple economics, bad management, increased competition, or other reasons. Indeed, a business might fail through poor digital marketing.

Digital marketing is a broad umbrella that includes websites, social media, and the like. In the modern age, almost every business has a website. Some might be exclusively online businesses, but even your local hairdresser or hardware store will likely have a website with some basic information. If they don’t, they’re likely to have a Facebook page or Instagram account, anything to keep them engaged with their potential customer base.

However, digital marketing isn’t just a case of starting up a website or social media account – it is a serious business, and it’s just as easy to get it wrong as it is to get it right. Poor digital marketing can lead directly to a business’s failure. Inc reveals that 14% of businesses fail as a direct result of poor marketing, which includes digital endeavors.

So, what are the digital marketing errors small businesses are making?

Target Audience

One simple reason a business’s online marketing fails is poor branding, failing to reach your target audience – if your customers can’t find you, you’ve failed. This might be because you have a website URL that relates little to your business, which is entirely avoidable. Using the business name generator on Namchk, you can incorporate your keywords into a usable URL so that people relate to your business. With so many businesses, your first choice URL might be taken, but with a name generator, you’ll still find something relevant to your business.


One of the most overlooked aspects of digital marketing is how what you write presents you as a business. Failure to adhere to basic grammar rules and spelling can make you look unprofessional and drive customers away. Simple things like capital letters in social media posts or understanding the difference between ‘your’ and you’re’ will help you look more professional online. You don’t need to be Shakespeare, but you do need to paint the correct image of yourselves online by getting the basics right.

Expecting Overnight Success

Your business has a website, and you’ve got an Instagram page, so now, customers will flood in, right? Wrong. Digital marketing is a long journey; getting set up is just the start. You need content people want to engage with and a plan to attract customers. Successful digital marketing is something that builds slowly and requires input from you. You shouldn’t get disheartened if your social media posts only have ten likes after a week – expecting overnight success is a fallacy and one you should avoid.

A Lack of Originality

Creating a digital marketing campaign requires vision. Indeed in our article on ‘Why Do Small Businesses Fail? 7 Reasons You Need To Know, we explained a lack of vision is one of the main reasons businesses fail, and that applies to digital marketing. Think about your content – is it the same as your competitors? What can you do to stand out? Your content must be engaging and fresh and have something for your customers that others do not have. Consider your social media output; what can you create to generate likes? If you’re producing short videos, for instance, instead of being promotional, can you have a guide related to your business or something a viewer finds useful or funny? If you’re unoriginal, you won’t stand out and will not find customers.

Not Measuring Results

How will you know if your digital marketing is successful? The only way is by tracking results, which means using something like Google Analytics to see who engages with your content and at what times. If you don’t track your results and just base success on your profit, you might have a fundamental problem with your digital marketing strategy. Keep an eye on engagement, on which posts attract the most visitors, and then tailor a strategy around those posts and content.

Not Having a Call to Action

What is a call to action (CTA)? It is a request for your customers to do something – subscribe via an email, like a post, that sort of thing. As we explained in our piece ‘10 Best Practices For Calls To Action To Increase Email Subscriptions’, it is vitally important to encourage engagement. Every email you harvest from a digital marketing campaign potentially opens the door to future sales. Every like or share on a social media post takes your content to fresh people. However, your marketing strategy is flawed if you don’t ask people to like, share or subscribe, or your website design makes a CTA difficult.