Help! My marketing campaign isn’t working…

After 12 years in the business, I’ve pretty much heard it all from clients. The good, the bad, and the ugly. In this month’s post I wanted to address some of the negatives associated with digital marketing campaigns, in the hope of setting realistic expectations for success.

One of the issues I’ve heard is that “my marketing campaign isn’t working”. That usually means different things to a client than it does to a marketing agency. When a client says that his campaign isn’t working, he’s usually referring to ROI. Either he’s losing money, or more likely he’s not earning as much money as he’d hoped or expected.

What we control (sort of) and what is easy to track… Traffic and leads. To be clear, there is a big difference between “I’m not getting any leads or traffic” (that’s a big problem) and “I’m not getting enough business out of this” (also a problem, but easier to fix). To an extent, a marketing agency has some control over how much traffic their clients receive. Yes budget reigns supreme, but the quality of the ad content, the bid strategy, the relevance of the keywords, and several other factors are very important to the number of overall website visits and leads that a client receives. Fortunately, we can track the number of clicks, impressions, phone calls and website inquiries our clients receive, as well as where their keywords rank, so determining how much traffic and how many leads they are receiving is pretty easy. What we have no control over, and what is not easy to track…

ROI. Once someone sees your ad, the agency’s ability to convert that search query into a paying client ends. We can do everything right, but we can’t force people to do business with you. Though unlikely, it’s possible that you could receive a ton of targeted traffic, even a bunch of phone calls and leads, and still not get a single sale from it. How? Perhaps your price points are too high relative to your competitors (this is common, and something we always watch out for with our clients). Perhaps your current promotions are a lot less attractive than what others are doing (again something we watch for on a regular basis). Or perhaps you’re not answering your phone when it rings (you’d be surprised how often this happens, especially with small business clients). Whatever the cause, they all contribute to a less than desired ROI. I find that setting realistic expectations at account inception with regard to time frame, traffic and lead levels, and ROI figures, solves a lot of these problems.

So what are those realistic expectations?

With a PPC or Social Media Marketing (SMM) campaign, we usually tell clients that they can expect traffic, and likely phone calls and leads, pretty quickly. With SEO campaigns, we usually tell clients that they should see ranking gains in the first 2 months, but that it will likely take 3-6 months before they start receiving traffic and leads out of it. Notice what is missing? ROI and sales/revenue figures. There is simply no way for us to know when those will come, as many of the factors that go into ROI and sales are out of our control. For that reason, we don’t even offer a guess. The take-away. There are no guarantees in advertising, but if you pick the right agency and you keep your expectations grounded in reality, chances are you’ll be very pleased with the results.