Our Internet marketing agency has been around since 1997, and over the course of time we’ve heard it all and seen it all when it comes to assessing failed marketing campaigns. I polled our sales and account management teams, and arrived at a very strong consensus that the five items that follow are by far the most common reasons why online marketing fails.
1. No Clearly Defined Goals
“Our competitors are on Facebook, so we need to be, too” is not a reason to launch a social media campaign. Neither is a vague interest in increasing website traffic or getting more leads. A clearly defined goal sounds something like this: “We want to increase SEO-generated validated website leads by 20% over the next 18 months.” A goal like this is specific, time-sensitive, measureable and meaningful.
2. Emphasizing the Wrong Metrics
Just because a goal is measurable doesn’t mean it’s meaningful. Organizations get tripped up by gearing their campaigns to improve the wrong data. Most common culprits:
- Rankings. In SEO, rankings used to mean a lot. Now they mean very little, because every Google search engine user sees different results. Also, if you rank well for a term that nobody searches for, you’re wasting your money.
- Traffic. Getting more traffic to your website is not necessarily going to generate more leads or revenue. It has to be the right traffic, and your website has to do a great job of impressing prospects and motivating them to contact you. If your website does a poor job of selling your wares, increased traffic can do more harm than good by turning off potential customers!
3. No Systematic Campaign Testing
The worst day of any Internet marketing campaign is the first day. Only by testing various campaign elements—content, offers, images, keywords, etc.—does a campaign become more productive and efficient. But testing cannot be whimsical; it must be methodical and properly executed. If a company uses poor testing methods, it’s rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. If a company doesn’t test at all, and puts the campaign on autopilot, a crash landing is inevitable.
Failing to adequately budget campaigns is probably the most common of these five pitfalls. I’ve written about under-budgeting frequently, including here and here. The temptation to get something for nothing is always alluring; in addition, many companies don’t fully appreciate the complexity and scope of an online campaign with even a modest goal.
5. Not Testing New Types of Campaigns
Successful companies are always on the lookout for better ideas. This spirit must drive online marketing efforts: If a company gets in a rut with, say, email marketing and SEO, it may never realize PPC or social media is a more cost-efficient and effective means of driving leads and revenue. Smart companies don’t merely dabble in new marketing methods; they instead systematically budget, deploy resources, and evaluate results.
How does your company score? If you’ve avoided all of these errors, you are definitely on the right track. If you’re guilty on all counts, at least now you have a game plan for making major improvements. And finally, if you are doing 3/5 or 4/5 properly, then you may be only a few small tweaks away from terrific success.