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Digital Marketing 2021: Scanning the Past to Find Biggest Mistakes Made by Brands and Lessons to Learn from Them

Digital marketing is the future we all know! Ignoring digital marketing is not an option for professionals/business houses unless they don’t want substantial growth and boundless reach. With the elevating graph of internet users, digital marketing is on the way to becoming a permanent member of the marketing plan. People are pretty sure about its efficacy, as this revolutionary wing has already proved its worth by helping many businesses in attaining commendable success.

However, digital marketing is not plain sailing. The success in digital marketing calls for top-class knowledge, excellent skills, and undoubtedly, a robust strategy. And believe us, that’s not all. On top of these, you must opt for continuous learning, along with implementation. Then only you can ensure expertise in the field. It is because digital marketing is a dynamic field. Things keep changing now and then. The sooner you learn and implement the changes, the better the outcome. Else be ready to face negative results.

Moreover, before launching a digital marketing campaign, you need to analyse the entire situation, keeping in mind every involved party. Or things can go seriously wrong, impacting you and the brand. And we are not saying this to bother you. Instead, we want you to learn from past happenings. For this, we are up with some of the stories revolving around the digital marketing mistakes made by some of the brands. Check it out.

Digital Marketing Mistakes: What You Can Learn from Them?

Kenneth Cole

It is an American fashion company, established in 1982.

What’s the issue?

The social media marketing team of the company tried to take advantage of the hot current topic for self-promotion back in 2011. The team posted a tweet, “Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online”. However, the team forgot the sentiments associated with the event. Actually, it was the Egyptian revolution wherein hundreds of people got killed. The public didn’t like the post and took it as an insensitive act by Kenneth Cole. Later on, the company apologized for the same and removed the tweet.


Before using any current happening or trending topic for a campaign or post, take into account the associated sentiments. Don’t try taking advantage of political disturbance for promotional purposes.


So here is one from a globally acknowledged sports brand! According to various reports, the global media director of the company admitted that Adidas was over-focused on performance marketing. They were investing an enormous amount in digital ads. The extent was that the performance marketing overshadowed brand building. The concerned person, Simon Peel said, “We had an understanding that it was digital advertising – desktop and mobile – that was driving those sales, and as a consequence we were over-investing in that area”. However, an incident wherein their paid search campaign got stopped, but Adidas didn’t see a downturn in the web traffic or revenue, made them realize that paid search was not doing much for them.


Don’t over-invest in a single digital marketing channel. Instead, diversify the marketing budget. And keep a close watch on analytics regularly.

The US Department of Education

Generally, slight mistakes in terms of grammar and spelling are considered to be normal. It happens! But it should not. You don’t know when a small mistake or casual behaviour towards content can turn into trouble.

And that’s what happened with the department of education, US. We guess, being the Department of Education, they are expected to be flawless!

What’s the issue?

They, in a tweet highlighting the importance of education, misspelt the name – W. E. B. Du Bois (an American Sociologist and civil right activist) as “W. E. B. DeBois”. And that’s it. Already facing the controversial heat for the appointment of Secretary, the department invited a problem through this mistake.

And to worsen the situation, they came to apologize! Oh…they misspelt the word ‘apologies’…mentioned: “our deepest apologizes for the earlier typo”.


Pay attention to content editing and proofreading. Every piece of content, large or small, must pass from the hands of the editor and proof-reader to ensure it is correct and clear. And when you are already into the limelight, be extra cautious about what you are posting.

Borders Group Inc

Last in the list, but certainly, meaningful. Its biggest mistake was failing to innovate and upgrade to the online business model on time.

Founded in 1971, Borders Group Inc. was a US-based store, dealing in books and music. It was a colossal name in the bookselling industry, being the originator of the first book superstore and second-largest bookstore chain (brick-and-mortar), preceded by Barnes & Noble. Spread across hundreds of locations globally, it employed thousands of people.

Despite being so huge, the company ceased to exist. Yes, it is no more in the business. Now, the question is, what led to the destruction of the company?

The Issue?

They failed to apprehend the power of technology and missed to upgrade themselves for the digital age. By the time it could understand the situation and established an online presence, it was too late. Amazon was in the market now with online bookselling, transforming the bookselling business. The Borders’ move was too late to compete with Amazon. Plus, the company did not pay attention to eBooks. However, its competitor did.


Always keep a watch on emerging trends and your competitors, including those in the IT sector. You can’t overlook digital marketing in the present scenario. Just check which technique(s) can assist you in growth.

What we Learn – A Bigger Picture

These mistakes speak volume. The lessons are not just those highlighted. Instead, these digital marketing mistakes show process flows. Not only the designated executive but also the approving authority missed paying attention to all the concerned areas.

Before undertaking any digital marketing activity, you need to look at it from various perspectives like sentimental, social, functional, etc. Amid numerous things, don’t forget you are a part of the community; you are what you are because of people. They should be the centre part of your strategy. And leverage the power of technology.

In short, the above examples are the tip of the iceberg. It’s half of the story. And, the rest of the story, which is yet to come, tells where else you can go wrong. So, for in-depth understanding, read — digital ideas that can break your brand.

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