by David Lawrence on September 17, 2019 | State of Digital

Last Updated on

Got any marketers near you? Quick! Grab one and ask them if they’ve ever had a campaign fail to reach its goals.

If they said “No” then either they’re not very experienced, they set themselves incredibly low targets, they’re not very honest or they are a marketing genius.

Actually, scrap that, geniuses can have more failures than mediocre marketers because they take bigger risks and set loftier goals.

Stay away from marketers who claim a perfect success rate. Marketing at its core is an inexact science.

Be ready for failure

If the marketer you grabbed said “yes” then chances are they’ll have all kinds of war stories.

  1. The goals set by their boss/client were unrealistic.
  2. Things were about to turn around but the person in charge lost their patience.
  3. A competitor came in and messed everything up with a crazy offer.
  4. The budget wasn’t big enough.
  5. The client’s marketing material/branding/messaging/offers didn’t resonate with their customers.
  6. The technical teams running various channels messed up.
  7. There was so much disfunction at the client that the campaign never really got launched properly.
  8. The campaign was brilliant! But the economy at the time was not.

Whatever the reason, we need to get one thing straight: Marketing campaigns fail. Hopefully not often, and hopefully not for long. But it happens.

Checklist: 10 Things to Check if Your Marketing Campaign is Failing

After working on hundreds of campaigns for businesses of all sizes, here’s what the Rocket team knows about marketing failure.

  1. Were the expectations realistic? Sometimes the failure is not a marketing failure. It’s a failure to understand what was ever going to be possible. Take the time to set expectations very clearly with your client or manager before you start. Working towards an impossible goal is a failure waiting to happen. Be careful of what you promise or agree to.
  2. Rule out the obvious: Is tracking working correctly and recording wins? Does Google Analytics show incredibly obvious problems with your site? Are key links not working? Is the mobile experience horrible? Are conversions noticeably terrible on certain devices? Get people not familiar with the campaign to interact with it the same way a prospect would – see what stands out to them.
  3. Has the competitive landscape changed? This can be a big one in competitive markets. Every marketer should have a list of key competitors. Open them up and make sure nothing’s changed that would be influencing your prospects.
  4. Are you dealing with quality traffic? Are the people hitting your marketing campaign your perfect prospects? Where are they coming from? What are they doing? What are leads/enquiries/conversations telling you? Is it time to change your targeting or even try different channels?
  5. Are you getting enough done? Not everything will work. Is your team efficient and are you launching enough of your good ideas? A “perfect” campaign which never sees the light of day is never as effective as a good campaign launched efficiently.
  6. Do you have a technical issue with a paid campaign? This is a good news one if it applies to you. Sometimes, there will be easy-to-find optimisation or setup issues with a paid campaign. Find it, fix it and you’re back in the game.
  7. Are you making too many changes? If you make too many adjustments in your ads or campaign settings the algorithms which control how and when people see your ads can severely impact performance.
  8. Has the campaign run for long enough? Success can take time. This can be hard to deal with, but we see lots of campaigns that perform poorly initially and over time turn right around.
  9. Run experiments: A failing campaign is unlikely to be turned around with meek changes. Running A/B tests between existing headlines or offers and a small number of significantly different concepts can deliver excellent results.
  10. This is a BIG one: Are your marketing assets up to scratch? Of all the issues that cause campaign failure, this is the biggest and often the most challenging one to fix. When a prospect is deciding whether to take the next step with your business they are being influenced by your website, your messaging, how you position your company relative to your competitors. How does your brand stack up? Prospects always have a choice. And if the only thing they know about you is what you show them as part of your marketing campaign then it better be up to the job!

What now?

Most of this checklist is self-explanatory. Spot the issue and you’ll know what to do about it.

Here’s some advice though – if you suspect that the root cause of your marketing failure is simply that your marketing assets are not up to scratch then you need to have a mature conversation about it. Poor messaging and offers will never be overcome with great “technical” marketing or beautiful design. If you’re not offering things prospects value, in a way they can understand, then your campaign is always going to struggle.

Our book “Smarter Marketer: 11 Golden Rules to Help In-house Marketers Thrive in an Ever-Changing Digital World” is a great place to start if you want to dive more deeply into a number of the issues raised here. Get your copy here.

If you think it would help, our experts can audit your campaign and give you tips on how to improve it. No obligation of course.

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