JOE PULSE

 

 

 

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My campaign failed. How do I turn this around?

 

Hi Joe,


My campaign fell flat, and I’m struggling to figure out why. We based this email around a great asset; a whitepaper with advice and analysis that seemed valuable to our audience. Everything went according to plan—our team was all on the same page about the content, and we sent it out right on schedule. So far, so good.


Our numbers—email opens, CTA clicks, whitepaper downloads—are all roughly on-target, but they haven’t added up to any new leads or conversions. What am I missing here? How can I understand why this campaign failed? How can I prevent this from happening again?


Thanks,


Disappointed in Dallas.

 

 

 

Disappointed, I understand how you feel. A few months back, we put out a campaign targeting a new market for the first time. Everything seemed to come together—images, content, our offer to the audience—and I really thought we were onto something. 


The response? Crickets. It was a tough pill to swallow, but in every “failure” there’s an opportunity to learn. We tested, tweaked, and tried again—we figured out what messages strike a chord with our audience, and now we’re making real headway in the market. You can’t undo past missteps, but you can take the lessons forward and do better. So let’s start now.


First of all, it’s good that you know what metrics equal success for this campaign—success is relative to your goals, after all. That said, numbers like clicks and opens don’t tell you much in a silo. As a starting point: compare your metrics, and your results, to the campaigns you’ve run in the past. 


Think about what’s changed between your more successful campaigns and this one. Your team was all on the same page about content, but was it the right message for the right audience? Did it miss the mark as far as cultural sensitivities go? Was it personalized enough? 

 

There are many potential factors at play here. Sending the email out on schedule is good news for your processes, but did you choose the right time and day of the week? Was email really the most effective channel for the people you wanted to reach? Did any small errors or placeholder names sneak into the final text? Size up the content and the numbers with past campaigns, and that’ll help you crack the case.


Then, you move from diagnosing problems to making improvements. Every part of your email is fair game for A/B testing, be it the subject line, content, time and date, imagery, or CTA. Test alternatives constantly, and you’ll build up a strong understanding of what really resonates with your audience.


One of our best ever campaign responses came from targeting execs with an email right after the Masters Tournament on a Sunday evening. Why? We had a distinct segment (execs—the kind who’re into golf), we had a good idea of what’s on their minds (checking emails before the week ahead), and we caught them at the right time. You get to know what makes your audience tick from testing campaigns continuously, and that refines your experiments from shots in the dark into calculated risks.

 

The other kind of testing you want to do is QA. Get an extra pair of eyes or two on every campaign, checking your content for mistakes and cultural issues lost in translation. Sure, it’s no one’s favorite job, but it’s the backbone of quality; any measure that side-steps “Hello [Name]” misfires is one to bring on board. And even before then, getting feedback on your campaign ideas from around the company can help you gauge whether your approach is sound at the root.


With all the parts involved in getting a campaign off the ground, process is everything. Think of the steps you took that worked well in the past, whether it’s sending a certain number of reminders for an event or staggering the timelines for approvals and translations in a particular period. 


Use those tried-and-true processes as a foundation for your campaigns, and keep layering on top new ideas and tweaks from your testing. You might stumble and get frustrated, but don’t worry—you’ll find out what works along the way.


Just remember: “failure” gives you a chance to do better.


You’ve got this,


Joe.

 

 

 

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