Dearly beloved, we gather here to acknowledge the passing and share in the memory of some of our dearest digital marketing trends. Though gone from this world, we know that they have left to be in a better place. So let us not be dwell in sorrow, but rather remember the joy that they brought to our lives.

Now that all that stuffiness is out of the way, let’s be real – most trends die for a reason. Whether they’re replaced by something more effective or just simply were a flash in the pan, they aren’t coming back, and we won’t miss them. Let’s take a look at some of those digital marketing trends which bought the farm, cashed in their chips and otherwise entered the sweet hereafter.

QR Codes

QR Codes were heralded as the next big thing in connectivity with customers, but there were always some doubters – Roundpeg even had some doubts 4 years ago as did much of the social media community. The reasons those doubters gave turned out to be the reasons QR Codes flopped, almost to the letter. One of those contributing factors was the lack of any native QR Code scanning app in any of the big mobile operating systems. This led to a flooded app market of QR Code scanners, some good and some bloated and filled with ads. The codes themselves found their way to some stupid places as well: subway terminals with no mobile reception, billboards on the highway and on actual webpages were some of the most baffling (read: stupid) places. The blind rush of marketers diving into the new trend without first trying to figure out its sweet spot caused most people to lose interest.


Personalized URLs (PURLs), were a novel idea: create a URL of your website with a simple extension (such as that you would give to one person. The unique URL directed the recipient to a specific landing page, with content specifically for them. There is some benefit for organizations which do a large amount of prospecting, particularly with direct mail. The unique URL tracks if and when the user visits the page, providing real-time feedback on marketing activity.

The downsides have all but driven most companies away. PURLs require a significant investment, both in capital to produce and mail the printed material with the custom URLS and in the time spent in creating and maintaining the redirect system that makes them work. The novelty of a personalized campaign is also not sufficient on its own. Just putting my name on a website is not going to get me to buy. Response rates increase dramatically with a relevant campaign rather than a personalized one.


The “high school kid who was internet savvy in 2006” in me hates the word “meme.” When most people say meme, they really mean image macro – an image with text superimposed on it (always in Impact font) used for humor. They started on super-niche websites in the early 2000’s, and eventually hit the mainstream as the years went on. Like with all new trends, marketers jumped on the bandwagon and rode it hard, making for some of the most tone-deaf and manufactured marketing. The problem with memes is the same as with everything older generations latch onto to try to seem hip: it comes off as disingenuous and nets more scorn than goodwill.

Web Design Trends on the Way Out

These trends aren’t as dead as I want them to be, but they’re trending down, and I’ve prepared their wills with a local attorney.

  • Parallax Scrolling – There’s a lot to hate about parallax scrolling – it can hurt your SEO, it can make web analytics a pain, it usually doesn’t work on mobile and it’s ugly.
  • Mobile only sites – Having a mobile version of your page used to seem like a cool idea to make it more accessible. But maintaining a completely separate version of your site just for mobile audiences is twice the work when all you need to do is make your main site mobile-responsive.
  • Flash on your webpage – The deadest of this group, and for good reason. Few mobile devices can use Flash well, and even fewer people are impressed by pretty Flash animations anymore.

If you’re still on board one of these dead trends, it’s time to do some reevaluating. A good portion of that reevaluating should be reaffirming who is or isn’t your target customer, and we can help. Download our free workbook Find Your Target Customer and get started on identifying the strategy that will work for you.