May 17, 2018
Sometimes even a well-executed marketing plan fails. When this happens, teams should dissect what went wrong to prevent failure from happening again (or at least the same type of failure). Marketers who simply move on and do not adequately analyze failed campaigns are doomed to repeat the same mistakes.
There are some common reasons that marketing plans fail. After an unsuccessful campaign, if the reason is not entirely clear, look at some of the signs for failure below to see if one of these problems occurred.
Unrealistic expectations are a huge reason for failure in marketing campaigns. Executives, stakeholders, or clients may expect a campaign to perform in a very impractical way and the team may not want to explain they cannot meet such outsized goals. This sets marketers up for failure. Alternatively, maybe the stakeholder does not fully understand the function of marketing or why a campaign is run a certain way. Without full communication, which includes goal setting, a campaign is hopeless from the start.
Goals must also be numeric. If the goal is to “raise awareness of a brand,” and the marketers do not lay out what metrics are needed to attain this goal, then failure is imminent. Goals cannot be too generic nor should they be too granular. And a huge mistake that marketers make is setting goals based on industry standards.
Industry standard benchmarks lack context and a sense of the quality of the outcomes being measured. Marketers need to test their current state instead of taking generic industry benchmarks and making goals off of those numbers. Only about 22% of businesses are satisfied with their conversion rates (Econsultancy), and this may be in part because companies often base conversion rates directly off of industry standards. Marketers ready to set more accurate conversion rates goals should read our blog post on how to do this effectively.
Improper goal setting can drown an entire marketing campaign. And marketers who launch campaigns without goals in place are even more likely to fail. According to CoSchedule, marketers who set goals are 429% more likely to report success than those who don’t. And 81% of those successful, goal-setting marketers achieve them.
Goals should have context, be based on data, and be reasonable. While well-done marketing campaigns can have powerful results, clients must understand what to expect before the campaign launches so everyone is on the same page.
Most marketing campaigns target a prospect in a certain stage of the sales funnel. Often, this is at the top of the funnel or in the awareness stage. However, 68% of marketers have not defined their funnel (Marketo), which means they lack understanding of the buyer journey.
The marketing team should identify the buyer journey and how they move down the sales funnel to understand their intent. This helps marketers create smarter campaigns. Furthermore, by having knowledge about the buyer in the awareness stage, marketers can make more targeted campaigns that direct them through the buyer journey. Without this information, a campaign has no way to move forward; it’s essentially throwing out information and hoping that buyers like it and take action.
Most critically, marketers must spend time to deeply understand the needs, intentions, and challenges that motivate buyers. Pain points, business value, and institutional aspirations are key components that must be understood and documented. Buyer understanding is a crucial component that drives marketing success.
Marketers need to test, optimize, adapt, and learn continuously. Without this, marketers will have no knowledge to improve campaigns, which means campaigns will likely fail. Marketers that have a process for learning, adaptation, iteration, and optimization can take weak points of a campaign and adjust them in real-time.
Furthermore, there should be a testing process and time-period so that marketers know which campaign tactics work and which do not before launching an important campaign. Roughly 61% of companies carry out less than five tests every month (Econsultancy), which is a low amount of tests. Marketers that go into a campaign blind, without having tested methods beforehand are less likely to succeed than those who have tested tactics and know what works with what audiences.
Markers that continually learn and test strategies will probably run successful campaigns, as those individuals constantly stay on top of what methods work and what methods are falling out of fashion in the marketing world. Teams that lack dedicated individuals for testing and optimization are might be running poor performing campaigns as they are not learning from past mistakes. Teams that can learn from failures, however, and take time to realize errors can move forward to run successful marketing campaigns.
Econsultancy, Conversion Rate Optimization Report 2017, 2017.
CoSchedule, The Marketing Statistics You Need To Know To Be Successful In 2018, 2018.
Marketo, 2012 B2B Marketing Benchmark Report, 2012.
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