Top 5 Challenges Facing Digital Marketers

Man Scratching Head

Firstly let me place some context behind this blog post, I have worked in digital marketing in various roles for the last few years, and this experience was the spark to this blog post.

I think we can all agree that the digital marketing industry is ever-changing and extremely dynamic. These characteristics bring a unique set of opportunities and a unique set of challenges. Meeting with various Digital Marketers weekly has allowed me to discuss these opportunities and struggles, and most importantly has highlighted some key issues that all digital marketers seem to face.

This blog post’s main purpose is to bring to light the issues that most Digital Marketers will come across in some capacity during their careers.


Lets focus on 5 key areas;

  • Data
  • Prioritisation
  • Support
  • Resourcing
  • Performance

Businesswoman Holding Bar GraphDataBig data! One of the major advantages of integrating digital into any marketing effort is the vast amount of data that can be generated. Unlike traditional forms of advertising, digital marketing often allows us to directly track the effects of online campaigns by giving us insights into how many people are clicking, on-site behaviour, and social engagement such as likes, re-tweets or even +1’s (just to name a few).

However with such a vast amounts of data and data collection platforms available to marketers I have often discovered that most marketers find the data overwhelming and are unsure of where to start, and are even unsure of how to separate campaign relevant data from the rest of the data. The key here is to take a considered approach and discover which KPI’s and data collection platforms provide the most value.

Prioritisation – Social Media, Search Engine Optimisation, Conversion Rate Optimisation, Search Engine Marketing, Mobile Marketing, Data Analytics…..where do you start! This issue often arises and can be quite crippling to the Digital Marketing Manager who is unsure of which digital disciplines most urgently require attention.

How can we prioritise the digital marketing activities that are most relevant to our brand as well as supporting overall marketing and business strategies? I deal with a large amount of clients who are simply unsure of where to start, and this is where an outsiders opinion can be quite helpful. A digital audit can help you discover which areas of your online marketing strategy need most urgent attention by mapping your goals to the various digital disciplines, as well as discovering what the industry standards are.

SupportSupport from internal stakeholders – This is an issue which can be of critical importance to digital marketers. How can they champion their idea internally when there aren’t any ‘traditional’ tangibles being delivered? An issue also arises from those in senior positions not being fully aware of the benefits provided by, and the different areas of digital marketing.

The key here is to take a route of education when attempting to integrate digital marketing into the business. The great thing with digital marketing is the ability to do campaign R&D at a low cost, as well as the data generated, which can be used to support the logic behind the investment.

Resources – Another critical issue I have noticed is the lack of resources most digital marketers work with, often being under resourced and expected to deliver on all objectives. Digital can be quite daunting, and since various metrics can be pin pointed constantly meeting targets can be difficult, especially when the resources needed to meet these aren’t properly scoped or provided.

The approach any digital marketer must take is a ‘ground up’ approach, focusing on the key areas first and further expanding and integrating their digital activities in the future. There are some dangers to this approach as most activities are complimentary, such as social media, content marketing, and SEO, and therefore not getting too comfortable is also important.


Success – Often digital marketers struggle to paint a clear picture of what success looks like. As digital marketing activities are a mix of instant pay-offs (such as PPC advertising) and future investments (such as social media and SEO), generating and communicating a clear picture of success can be difficult, and often people may have unrealistic expectations.

The approach recommended here consists of painting a clear picture at the start of the campaign, as well as identifying key changes during the campaign, such as an increase in site traffic, more engagement on posts, or a higher click-through-rate on your search engine ads.

I hope that this post has been both illuminating and helpful. If you have any questions about your digital marketing strategy feel free to comment below.

So, what are your major digital challenges?

1st Feb UPDATE: In our follow up post we look at how these top 5 digital challenges can be turned into opportunities, read more.


2 Responses to Top 5 Challenges Facing Digital Marketers

  1. Heather Stone January 29, 2013 at 5:57 pm #

    Well said, Simon. Big data in particular can be daunting. Looking for exactly what that data is saying requires imagination and is rarely as cut and dried as some would have you believe. Thanks for sharing on BizSugar.

  2. Simon Hislop
    Simon Hislop January 31, 2013 at 10:15 am #

    Thanks Heather. I think the key here is using data to make business decisions. So starting with the questions you’re wanting to answer and then finding the data that will answer those questions. This helps provide clarity around what data is most important.

Share in the conversation