3 Reasons Digital Marketing Campaigns Fail and How to Avoid Them

According to Nielsen and Marketing Week, over half of all digital marketing campaigns fail to achieve their objective, reach their targeted audiences, etc. This doesn’t come as a shock considering the amount of digital marketing options and the sophistication that can be put behind a campaign. The more options and sophistication behind digital campaigns leaves greater room for mistakes to happen. Ultimately this decreases your chance of capitalizing on market opportunities and opens up an ever-growing cost center in your marketing.

Over the past decade I’ve spend a lot of time cleaning up digital marketing campaigns for clients. Mind you, I’ve made mistakes myself along the way and learn from them. The 3 main reasons why campaigns fail is from:

  • Lack of SPECIFIC goal setting
  • Poor execution
  • Not tracking lead conversion patterns

CIO magazine published an excellent article covering these and a few other reasons why campaigns fail, but let’s go into the underlying reasons I mentioned above.

Lack of SPECIFIC goal setting

Goal setting needs to come in 2 different forms for a digital marketing campaign to succeed.

One, the business owner(s)/manager(s) need to establish clear business goals/metrics that need to be met. For instance, we need to generate 55 leads each month to close 12 over the quarter with an average sale value of $20,000 per year.

These specific (metric-driven) goals are important to share so the right budget, campaign timeline, focus, tactics, and target market can be factored into the structure of the campaign.

For example, let’s just say a tactic for lead generation is a Google Adwords campaign. Since we clearly defined the business objectives above, we can break this down into another set of goals for the digital marketer (in this case, Google Adwords campaign manager) to achieve.

Here’s a sample breakdown from an ROI spreadsheet that I use with all of my clients. Let’s just say you wanted to grow your revenue by 200K.

Everything from the number of impressions, impression share, click through rate, lead conversion rate, average sale value and internal conversion rate (closed sales ratio) is accounted for. Your digital marketer should know all of the supporting metrics that drive each of the factors that mean something to your bottom line. Without relating THEIR analytics to YOUR metrics, your campaign (no matter how talented the digital marketer is) will fail.

Your digital marketer should also be consistently gathering qualitative data to determine if the campaign is producing results that are in line with your business objectives. For instance, if you are getting leads, but not the right kind of leads (therefore a lower closed sales ratio), your digital marketer should know so adjustments can be made throughout the campaign (ad creative, expressing qualifying factors in copy, etc.).

If you’re just getting an analytics report behind your campaign, you will be completely blind to the ACTUAL return-on-investment. If both the business metrics and campaign metrics are measured together, you’ll gain a much clearer understanding into how your marketing is working to grow your business.


Poor Execution

A precursor to poor execution is lack of specificity in the planning phase. Assuming you’ve established and communicated clear business goals/metrics to your digital marketer, execution of tactics is the obvious next step. Digital marketing campaigns fail on the execution side for 2 main reasons: lack of knowledge/experience and lack of follow through

The person, and team, managing your digital marketing campaign should have a proven track record of success with other clients, preferably in your industry. There are plenty of marketers that have the technical ability to execute campaigns, but lack the understanding of small nuances involved with your industry. They also might not fully understand how your customers make decisions which can lead to flaws (higher cost) in your campaigns. Be careful that you aren’t paying for their learning curve.

Your digital marketer should also have a consistent follow through plan that they share with you from day one. Just like the stock market, digital campaigns change daily. Additional competitors can quickly enter your market space and STEAL your campaign tactics. In the digital world anything is possible. Years of experience and technical efficacy will never make up for lack of attention and follow through of a campaign.


Not Tracking Lead Conversion Patterns

I’ve seen hundreds of digital marketing campaigns over the past 12 years and one of the most common flaws in each of them was lack of conversion tracking. The world of tracking marketing funnels and conversions is vast and can get super granular, but it amazes me how many companies spend a good bit of money on digital marketing campaigns, but simply don’t track lead conversions.

Identifying patterns from lead conversion tracking is one of the most important activities to maximize ROI. I’m going to go there and says it’s practically irresponsible not to.

Tracking lead conversion patterns will help you shift your investment to the efforts (e.g. keyword phrases, audience targeting, etc.) that are actually producing results. For instance, if you are running a Google Adwords campaign and 5 keyword phrases are contributing to over 80% of all your qualified leads then you might want to consider either shifting your total budget more toward those phrases or increasing your budget and adding phrases based of variations of those of phrases.

There are a number of different tactics and approaches that can be applied to maximize ROI once you’ve identified patterns and common conversion activities (CCA’s) in your digital campaigns. Implementing this mindset into your digital campaign management strategy is a critical factor in how profitably you will scale your business.

Keep these 3 underlying factors in mind as you move forward in using digital marketing as a vehicle to grow your business. Make sure the digital marketer you decide to work with also understands these factors and makes it part of their process in working with you.

Digital marketing can be very complex compared to other forms of marketing, and it’s only going to get more complex through time. The key to success with digital marketing, or any other form of marketing for that matter, is proper planning, execution and measuring that is focused on meeting your specific business objectives. You’ll know what’s working, what’s not and how to adjust to establish long-term profitable growth of your business.

Growth hacking vs. digital marketing – which is better for you?

I’ve been in the digital marketing arena now for about 12 years. A lot has changed. A lot hasn’t.

Today, many company’s today are stuck in the mindset that they need to hire someone to handle their “digital marketing”. It’s easy to get sucked into this trap by listening to speakers at conferences or other “experts” that spend most of their time writing or speaking about these topics, but not actually implementing them.

I’m not taking a jab at every writer or speaker, but there’s no question there are a lot of influencers in this space that have their own biases. These biases not be what’s right for your company.

I’d like to challenge the notion of whether you should hire someone, or an entire team, to handle your digital marketing.

First, let’s first peel back a layer of the onion starting with why you might think you need digital marketing.

When you decided you needed help with digital marketing, what made you come to that realization?

Are you trying to generate more qualified leads?

Are you trying to protect your brand reputation?

Are you trying to generate more referrals to qualified leads?

These types of questions stem from actual business results you are looking for. What made you think that hiring a social media manager or digital marketing experts will help you achieve these goals?

I ask these questions not to deter you from considering digital marketing as a method to growing your company, but rather to reframe your way of thinking for how you came to the conclusion that you needed it.

Digital marketing takes certain factors into consideration for growth such as search engine optimization, paid search marketing, re-marketing, reputation management and a number efforts involving digital channels.

Growth hacking offers a different way of thinking. The growth hacking mindset considers methods that effectively and efficiently get the results you need to grow your company quickly.

Growth hacking may or may not include digital marketing.

Growth hacking focuses on the business objective (bigger picture) first whereas digital marketing focuses on the marketing process within each digital channel (SEO, SEM, social media, etc.). 

For example, if one of your main business objectives right now is to increase revenue from your existing customer base (i.e. land and expand), then social media and search engine marketing (i.e. digital marketing activities) might be taking focus, time and dollars away from your objective. You might consider a very personalized automated drip email campaign instead. You might consider using social networks as a referral channel, but a online customer community with built-in gamification to give referral incentives to existing customers.

My point here is that the mindset of growth hacking gets you to think beyond “optimizing digital channels” and the process behind it.

Growth hacking gets you away from “thinking” that people are paying attention to your posts on social media. It gets you to understand the analytics and ROI behind your actions and holds you accountable to qualifying and quantifying the time and dollars spent in implementing each action.

Growth hacking utilizes digital marketing in a way that gets you to your end goals faster.

Growth hacking considers the entire landscape of resources that can help you grow your company.

Growth hacking combines creativity with engineering to reach your key performance indicators (KPI’s). It involves implementing the right set of people, platforms and processes working together in the most efficient way to:

  • Lower cost of sales and marketing
  • Ensure ROI for marketing and branding efforts
  • Cut out unnecessary operational costs
  • Create massive increases in efficiency and higher productivity
  • Rapid generation of qualified business opportunities
  • and much, much more!

Don’t believe me? Read the case studies from companies that have growth hacked their way into the billions, quickly!

Next time you find yourself wondering how to improve your digital marketing strategy, consider taking a step back and re-framing your thinking.

Intrigued? Let’s chat 🙂

SEO: What you REALLY need to know

In this Q & A interview, we will be interviewing the founder of Moz.com and co-founder of Inbound.org, Rand Fishkin. Moz.com and Inbound.org have become THE resource for high quality information and tools to help organizations utilize search engine optimization (SEO) as a true asset. This Q & A interview will reveal the strategies, secrets and tools that your organization needs to successfully drive more leads through search engines, other websites, social media and many other channels.

Have your own question about SEO? Feel free to submit your questions below in the comments section and we’ll be sure to help answer it. Enjoy!