As a digital marketer, there's nothing worse than when your highly-anticipated campaign turns out to be a flop. We've all been there. You didn't achieve the engagement or conversions you had bargained on, and now you're left feeling confused and wondering what went wrong...

When you're in the thick of it, it can be difficult to take a step back and objectively analyse what happened. So today, we're serving up a bit of tough love by laying out the five most common reasons why digital marketing campaigns fail and what you can do to avoid them.

1. There wasn't a clear marketing objective

Running a digital marketing campaign without a clear objective is like starting a road trip without a destination. When you're in the initial planning phases of any new digital marketing campaign, you should always start by setting an objective – the more specific you can be the better! 

Don't stop there, get stuck into the nitty-gritty details by setting SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely) goals around that objective. Think about what it is that you would like to achieve? Is your campaign focused on driving more traffic to your school website, boosting enrollment form submissions, or gaining more event registrations? Whatever your objective might be, setting a clear objective will not only better guide your decisions throughout the campaign, but it will also make post-campaign reporting a tonne easier!

2. You didn't communicate to your target audience

For a marketing campaign to excel, it has to reach the right audience at the right time in the customer journey. If your campaign didn't generate the level of engagement that you had anticipated, it might be because you didn't segment your target audience properly. A key way to ensure that you're communicating with the right audience is by assigning family personas to your campaign. 

If you need a quick recap on personas, they're fictitious character profiles that are based on real families at your school. Created by drawing on specific details about a range of demographic and psychographic information, personas paint a picture of the families that currently attend your school or would be interested in enrolling in the future. If you need a hand on getting started, take a look at Hubspot’s step-by-step guide to creating personas.

Once you know who your target audience is, you can then leverage all of the different tools available to segment your audience. For example, if you’re running an email campaign, created targeted recipient lists based on your personas and enrollment pipeline information. If you’re leveraging paid advertising across your social media channels, take the time to create custom audiences so that your ad gets in front of the right eyes.

3. Your message wasn't targeted or personalised

In 2020, highly personalised marketing is no longer a ‘nice to have,’ it’s the norm. Think about it, almost every customer experience nowadays is personalised. From Netflix to Spotify, Instagram, and YouTube, nearly every interaction you have with a brand is geared toward your interests and demographic information. If you’re tracking prospective parent data, you’re sitting on a wealth of information that can be injected into your marketing campaigns. 

If you’re new to marketing personalisation, you might be feeling a little overwhelmed, or wondering where to start? An easy introduction to marketing personalisation is using email tokens in your emails. Tokens allow you to dynamically pull contact data into the body text of your email. It might be something as simple as adding a contact’s name to your greeting (Hi James!), but it gets results. In fact, 74% of marketers note an increase in customer engagement with email personalisation.

4. You didn't run any A/B tests

When running any digital marketing campaign, A/B testing is a tried and tested way to measure and improve your digital efforts. Also known as ‘split’ or ‘bucket’ testing, A/B testing allows you to create two different versions of an ad and show them to different audiences to see which performs better. Once you have your winning ad, you can promote it more widely, knowing that it works!

A/B testing can be applied to all digital channels in your campaign, from email marketing to paid advertising, landing pages, and more! When creating your tests, you can make significant changes, like using a different heading or image, or subtle differences like updating the colour on a CTA button. You would be surprised to know how even the smallest changes can make a big impact.

5. You forgot to regularly monitor the campaign

As a campaign comes to a close, it’s expected (especially by your executive team) that you will compile a report to analyse its performance. But, the mistake that many marketers make is waiting until the very end to check key metrics. Similar to A/B testing for digital optimisation, it's important to monitor your campaign throughout its entire duration – not just at the end. In doing so, you're able to catch any possible problem areas, before they have the opportunity to derail your entire campaign. Set up reminders in your calendar to regularly check on your campaign analytics and keep your campaign on track.

Key takeaways for campaign success

  • Always set a clear objective for your digital marketing campaign using the SMART goals framework. 
  • Define your target audience using personas and segmentation across all of your digital marketing channels. 
  • Include personalisation in your marketing campaigns by drawing on data already that’s already stored in your school CRM.
  • A/B test your campaign assets and monitor key metrics throughout the entire lifetime of the campaign.
Published 6 October 2020