30/09/10

by Cabell de Marcellus, dianomi™

Given how well-established many marketing disciplines have become, particularly as the growth of online has made its tools and techniques more accessible, it would be easy to think that every marketing campaign rolls out without a hitch. And yet there are still some common errors which crop up time and again to undermine the effectiveness of marketing activity. In helping clients to optimise their marketing and sales efforts, dianomi has identified five main areas where even the most experienced marketer could find the effectiveness of their campaign has been impacted.

Mistake #1: Using a message that has not been tested and optimised

Often in the online world advertisers have to capture the user's interest with just a short headline. The difference in click-through rates of the phrases you choose can vary by many multiples, making or breaking the success of your campaign.

Many people simply don’t ask themselves the question before acting, have you tested and optimised your message? If not, it’s likely you could be missing out on half of the potential business. Many services allow you to test messages and find the one that works best. dianomi not only runs A/B/n message testing for its clients but also consults with them as to which themes are performing best. For example, this year the proposed ‘Tax changes’ were a strong theme among financially-savvy consumers online, whereas last year ‘Recession’ proved the stronger message.

Mistake #2: Being mislead by test results - the concept of statistical significance

If I told you after testing two variants of the same offer, offer A was 12% more popular than offer B, would you decide to push offer A harder as the more popular of the two?

If you did, you could be making a big mistake. After even 500 observations there is a real possibility that the test result was just random. More data is frequently needed to be sure that the percentage difference is not pure chance.

Differences of up to 20% in test results can frequently be misleading, and many marketers still find themselves going in circles basing their conclusions and consequent marketing strategy on red herrings. Proper statistical methods are needed to ensure you draw the right conclusions.

Mistake #3: Using forms which kill business

Many companies have no idea that the form that they spent so much time building with their web developers is actually killing their business.

Do you know what percent of users submit your form after landing on the page? Is it 30% or 2%? In many cases involving complicated forms only a tiny percent of users actually submit them, which makes acquiring new customers a very expensive process. To help our clients’ campaigns achieve success, dianomi not only closely measures form submit rates but we also compare them with benchmarks in the same industry.

Mistake #4: Hidden problems with the sales process

Even with tried and tested marketing techniques, it’s still easy to get the fundamentals of service and response wrong. This can manifest itself in the simplest of ways, such as the customer requesting information on the product, but getting the brochure many weeks later or waiting for a call that never comes.

Very sad, but altogether true. Because so many marketeers out-source their fulfillment or delegate it to a subsidiary, they don't realize that sometimes keen customers are left abandoned and frustrated because no one ever contacts them.

Early on at dianomi we realized this could be an issue, and consequently, we track our clients fulfillment very closely. Here are a few examples of what we have seen:

The temp:
One fund manager launched a new fund with loads of investors wanting to learn more about it and requesting the brochure. The brochures were packed up by a temp in the office but were mistakenly left under her desk never to make their way to the customers.

The warehouse:
A broker was attracting clients and sending out media packs efficiently on a daily basis. Suddenly, dianomi's monitoring software revealed a spike in the number of customers not receiving their packs. The client called the fulfillment team at the warehouse. It turned out that they had run out of brochures a couple weeks earlier.

The dealership:
A luxury car manufacturer had just launched an amazing new luxury automobile and many affluent customers were quick to request test drives. However, despite their repeated begging to test drive the car, the test drives never materialised because the manufacturer was having problems communicating with their dealerships.

In addition to basic fulfillment problems, a majority of companies don't segment their leads by value in order to respond to the best leads first. This mistake also costs them more in terms of campaign performance.

Mistake #5: Faulty or absent attribution of sales to marketing campaign

Sometimes a campaign works very effectively. The company could keep pushing it, bringing in more and more business while generating an excellent return on investment, but they don't. They just stop and do something else instead.

Why would a company do that after putting together a very profitable campaign?

The most likely cause is that the company never knew how well the campaign was working. They are unable to match sales correctly to each campaign so they are ignorant of which campaigns are bringing in the business.

Time spent working on improving tracking will pay off as resources can be focused on the campaigns that are delivering results. Sometimes, the customer buying cycle can be longer than expected and a better understanding of the customer journey is key to optimising marketing and customer life time value.