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Was it the idea or the execution?

Posted by Sheera Eby on July 15, 2013

Do you often wonder why something didn’t work? Was it the idea or the execution?


When it comes to marketing programs, there are a number of variables that drive success and failure. Is the product wrong for the market? Is the product pricing too high? Was it the targeting? Was the offer or incentive not motivating? Were the communications constructed to generate response? Did we use the wrong channels? Is the market saturated? Was the creative off-base?


Marketing channel effectiveness can be complex to dissect. With so many aspects to marketing program development and execution, it can often be difficult to determine what is working and what isn’t.


Furthermore, the architecting, launching and creation of a new marketing initiative can be very exciting—identifying a market need and then applying those insights to program development; starting with a white board, holding a few meetings and ending with business outcomes. With all the excitement that goes into the building of something new, it’s easy to see how refining something that already exists often gets overlooked.



The reality is that most marketing programs have room for improvement.

Improvements can be on a multitude of levels, strategic and tactical. You often have to ask yourself whether the strategic idea was bad, or whether the execution needs refinement.


When you feel strongly that there is a strong marketing strategy and product foundation, consider tinkering with the execution. Continuous improvement, testing and application of learnings are cornerstones of the most effective marketing programs. Why is it that marketers don’t spend more time evaluating their programs for areas of improvement?



Marketing channel optimization works.

It turns out optimizing a channel can improve response anywhere from 10% to 200%, making it a worthwhile investment of time and money.1 Furthermore, companies spending more than 25% of their marketing budgets toward optimization are twice as likely to enjoy high conversion rates, according to a recent study conducted by Adobe.


If this is true, why aren’t more marketers focused on optimization? Marketing optimization for most equals continuous improvement and testing. Maybe that doesn’t sound as exciting as launching the latest and greatest tactic. But I believe marketers are leaving money on the table, and that many of their vehicles may not be performing at the right level for their investment. Click here to read our article, Is optimization the new silver bullet?, which uncovers additional findings from the Adobe study and offers even more tips for optimizing marketing performance.



Is a 12% increase worth your time?

Marketing optimization comes down to applying best practices and testing various techniques to improve response. Digital marketing channels are often cost-effective mechanisms for testing and improving marketing channel effectiveness. Here is an example of how refining and applying trending email best practices increased performance of a specific email campaign.


Note: This email campaign didn’t perform weakly; it was a strong performer. That, however, didn’t stop the team from identifying ways to increase performance. Sometimes the hardest challenges are taking a tactic that is performing well and transforming it into an even better performer.

This side-by-side example demonstrates how email testing effort generated a 12% increase in performance. Refining the number of steps that the customer needed to take, inclusion of icons and a number of other layout and design components created a strong lift in click-through behavior.


Testing is an essential cornerstone to continuous improvement. Sometimes it is as simple as leveraging strong and clear calls-to-action, compelling offers and other response best practices. Leveraging response best practices (generally synonymous with direct marketing best practices) are often a path to marketing channel effectiveness.



Where to start?

Start with a hypothesis. For example, when recently faced with a tough process for customers to complete, the hypothesis became: inclusion of account information might ease that process and increase response. Turns out that utilizing personalization reinforces a relationship, validates credibility and ensures a decision process can become simpler and easier. In this example, personalization in email delivered a 36% increase in response. This is a pretty astounding lift for inclusion of easy-to-execute variable information. Check out our blog article on email personalization for more details.


Optimization is a path that is underutilized by many marketers. While it takes careful precision and diagnostics to determine the best paths for marketing optimization, it can quickly show increases in response and ensure your marketing dollars are working as hard as possible.




Although it sounds like a shameless plug, we generally recommend an expert diagnosis of current efforts and a finite review of each tactic within the marketing mix. At Jacobs & Clevenger, we’re experts in applying direct marketing techniques to a number of different marketing communications media.


Click the banner to set up a one-on-one consultation with us and learn more about how to take your marketing efforts to the next level.

1. Jacobs & Clevenger, Is marketing optimization the new silver bullet?

Topics: CMO

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