How To Finally Figure Out What's Wrong With Your Marketing Campaigns

You've built a cool marketing campaign with an irresistible offer that's sure to get people climbing over each other to sign up.

Or... at least, you thought you did. Because then when you launched it? Nothing happened.


If this has never happened to you — well, it will. The reality for most businesses is that, while hopefully this doesn't happen every time, it will happen sooner or later. Not everything is going to be an instant success.

But when it does happen? You can at least figure out why and steer future campaigns in a more successful direction. So let's talk about that.

Anatomy of a Marketing Campaign

First, we'll build our example campaign. If we're going to explain why things may not be working, we should understand what we're trying to do in the first place.

  • The core offer is 20% off your product or service
  • Your leads sign up for this offer on a landing page
  • You get the word out to existing customers and leads through email
  • You get the word out to new potential leads via digital advertising

Of course, a marketing campaign could involve many more parts. But we'll keep things simple. This is a common campaign structure many B2B companies will use.

First Of All: Is The Marketing Campaign Failing?

Before you go about investigating why your marketing campaign isn't working, you need to know whether it's failing in the first place.

mascot falling

Not every fail is as obvious as this

You probably know what a sale's worth to you. In our example, you'll be making 20% less than a full price sale, but at least in most circumstances, you're betting on the volume of sales increasing thanks to the marketing such that the profit on the sale exceeds the cost of the marketing.

So make sure you understand all of the numbers in play. What's the cost of your marketing staff's time? What's the cost of the media buy? Add it all up to produce a number you know you need to beat.

Let's say that number, the cost of marketing, is $10,000. Let's say that the value of each sale is $1,000, even with the discount. So you know you need to make 10 sales for the campaign to break even, or 11 to actually come out ahead.

Yes, things may be more complicated: you'll want to know that these sales are from people who wouldn't have otherwise converted without the offer. And if you're pulling new clients in, there's also the lifetime value to consider. These are factors that will be more unique to your company than we can get into right now. Whatever the case, make sure that you've adjusted the basic formula such that you know what success looks like.

Take into account too that you may be planning another phase or this may be an ongoing campaign — and you will want to learn from this for a totally new future campaign.

Now, let's say in our example, we only make one sale. That's probably a plain failure. So let's investigate.

How Is Your Marketing Campaign Not Working?

So once you know that your marketing campaign isn't working, we'll look at the how. The ways in which your marketing campaign isn't working will help us make reasonable assumptions which we can then test to understand what's going on.

dog investigating

We'll get to the bottom of this

The first thing to do is pull up a report. You'll generally expect to start with some number of people at the start of your funnel, then lose some (in sort of a... "funnel" shape) as you move through the stages toward the conversion.

With advertising, you might see:

  • 1,000 people view your ad
  • 20 click through to the landing page
  • 1 converts by filling in the form

And with email, similarly:

  • 1,000 people receive your email
  • 300 people open your email
  • 30 click through to the landing page
  • 2 convert by filling in the form

The numbers here are totally arbitrary — every company and every industry will have their own typical, average results. If these were your numbers, for instance, you'd know that in order to make 11 sales through ads, you'd expect to need 11,000 impressions. Or if you wanted to do it with email alone, you'd want 5,500 relevant names.

You can blend them of course, but if you start with 11,000 impressions and only get one conversion? Something's gone horribly wrong. Same as if you're paying what you'd normally expect to drive 11,000 impressions and only getting 1,000. Same as if you send 5,500 emails and only get 100 opens.

Know what you're expecting (or need) to see and then start examining the points where you're not seeing it.

Use Your Average Results and Campaign Cost To Identify the Barriers

The data you have access to is your most powerful tool when building marketing campaigns that work. If you run many campaigns, you should have an idea of what your average open rate is, what your average clickthrough rate is, and so on. If not, you can usually at least find numbers for the industry average. Here's what you need to look at:

  • For ads, how many people viewed the ad?
  • For ads, how many viewers clicked the ad?
  • For ads, how many clickers converted?
  • For email, how many people opened the email?
  • For email, how many people clicked on a link?
  • For email, how many clickers converted?

The real measure of your success is always going to be how those three numbers — campaign cost, number of sales, and value of each sale — play out. But the average success rates will help you spot irregularities.

Are You Getting An Appropriate Number of Ad Views?

We'll start by looking at who's even seeing your ads, with Google as the example. With Google search ads, you'll set up keywords, content, and a budget. The first hurdle to conquer is actually producing an ad that Google will serve.

rejecting something

...Thanks, Google.

You might find your campaign doomed from the very beginning if your ads aren't actually getting shown anywhere. This can be due to various reasons:

  • You're simply being outbid
  • Your keywords are not searched with any significant volume
  • Your ads are written poorly
  • Your ads are not relevant enough to your landing page content

Google will show you your impressions as well as your clicks. If your impressions are negligible, you'll want to look at these areas in order to get them showing up.

But if you don't have the budget, don't despair. Google does serve ads according to bid — but it's in their interest to serve good ads. They build a Quality Score for each ad, and you can have a high Quality Score even without putting enormous money behind it. You can obtain a higher Quality Score by writing relevant ads, using all of the options Google makes available, and sending people to an appropriate page.

If your ads aren't getting the impressions you're expecting, review your keywords, ad content, budget, and how well the ad relates to your landing page content

Is Your Ad Content Enticing Enough?

If you are getting impressions, but you're not getting clicks, the problem is likely with the ad copy. Google offers several places to enter content, from headlines, to descriptions, to URLs, and more. With some types of ads, such as responsive ads, it allows you to enter multiple versions of each. You can also use a code to dynamically insert the viewer's own search term into the ad.

Take full advantage of all these features first of all.

Second, review your content. Be relevant to the viewer and the keywords you're targeting. Be upfront about what you do and the value you're offering. Use all your content writing tricks to suggest that you really do have an amazing thing that they just absolutely have to click on the ad to learn more about.

amazing offer

Just make it sound incredible

And of course, there's always A/B testing as a method to attempt to find copy that converts.

If your ads aren't getting traffic to your site, make sure you're maximizing the space you're allowed and review your copy to make your offer sound even more attractive

Register for online workshop

Are People Opening Your Email?

Check your email open rate. If you're seeing a lower than expected email open rate, then there are two main things you can do.

First, check who you're sending your email to. Did you blast an email about a product to your entire list, even though it's only going to be of interest to a small segment? Then you should've segmented. Don't tell yourself that it doesn't matter if someone who wouldn't have bought it anyway doesn't open it, because you're still going to have an unsubscribe rate to deal with and you don't want to lose people by being spammy — and you also just want to keep your data clean so that your open rate is a useful metric.

You can also segment within your segment. If you know your offer is more likely to appeal to one particular industry, you might still want to customize your message based on individual personas.

Second, and probably more importantly, look at your content. If someone didn't open it, it's because several things weren't enticing enough. Specifically, think about the content someone sees before opening an email. Let's take a look at some examples from my own inbox:

You can clearly see what gets my attention!

There are three key bits of information someone's going to see before they open an email:

  • Sender name
  • Subject
  • Preview text

So yes, it is important who the email's coming from. These examples are impersonal because I don't actually have a personal relationship with these companies. Instead, they're nice and straightforward. In B2B contexts, you'll often want to go with a familiar personal name — even when the communication is automated — because it's going to feel more relevant.

Acknowledge the previous relationship so this new outreach feels like a continuation

Then there's the subject. Make sure your email subject displays the benefit to the client first. 50% off pizza. 50% off t-shirts. An honest-to-god dumpling-shaped air purifier. You can expand on the subject with the preview text — this text doesn't have to be specifically related to the first few sentences in the email. Get the juicy stuff in early though, because this text will often be cut off (which is fine, because it may prompt someone to click to finish the sentence).

In our campaign example, it's 20% off the product. Put that in there. Say what product it is. Get across the idea of how it will help. Perhaps create a little urgency with a time limit. It's a lot to cram in there, but give it a shot.

Only In August | Get 20% off our Premium Dumplings! - Are you hungry? Not for long when you order our delic...

If you're not getting enough email opens, review your sender name, subject line, and preview text.

Are People Clicking Through to the Landing Page?

If you've got that email open, you're in a pretty powerful position. The person's indicated they're at least in the ballpark of being interested. And unlike with a search ad, you have a lot of control over the content they're now reading.

So if people are opening, but not clicking, you'll want to review that email content.

First make sure that your email content credibly fulfils the promise your subject line makes. It'll do you no good to trick people into opening an email that sounds like they'll be getting a free bag of dumplings, only for the email to put forward a whole bunch of boring conditions, like you have to buy at least 60 before you get a freebie. Wherever you are in your campaign pipeline, a consistent message builds trust.


Otherwise, the process of writing an effective marketing email is a topic for an entire other article. But here are a few things to think about:

  • A more personalized context, such as where there's already a personal connection between a sales rep and a client, may benefit from a less flashy approach
    • Don't be afraid to try an email that's completely plain text — sometimes, a well-designed email that looks incredibly striking can fail when a client feels that rather than there being that relationship, they're being treated like they were just on a mailing list
  • In many more contexts, a visually appealing email with images and a more sophisticated layout may go over just fine — just make sure the bells and whistles are useful
  • Generally, don't go on for too long. Get straight to the point and provide an immediate link to your landing page
  • Sprinkle more links in — people get convinced of the value at different points in your email, and it'll be convenient for them to click the link closest to them when that happens
  • Don't be afraid to have an obvious call to action button at the bottom
  • Also don't be afraid to say, explicitly, multiple times, exactly what you want people to do. "Buy Now," "Sign Up," "Register Now." Yes, it really does make the click more likely to happen the more you say this
  • Try throwing a PS in at the bottom. Sure, it doesn't make sense to write a PS when you could very easily insert that afterthought anywhere in the text because you are not handwriting this email — but the truth is, if you have a PS in there and somebody skims your email, they will read that PS
  • Of course, soundly describe the detailed benefits of your offer
  • Bullet points are great

When people aren't clicking through to your landing page, work on the content of the email, add plenty of links, and take the opportunity to consistently spell out the value once more

People Hit The Landing Page — But They're Not Converting

Alright. Your lead finally showed up on your landing page. But whether they came from an ad or an email, they're not converting. What could possibly be the deal now? Here's three major things to consider.

  • Your landing page content isn't compelling enough
  • There's a disconnect between the landing page content and the email/ad content
  • Your conversion mechanism is too much of a hassle

Yes, once again, it could be that your content is just failing at sealing the deal — or it's accidentally at odds with what you've previously said. Maybe what looked good in an email no longer looks good now that the reader is being asked to make that decision.

decision-making dilemma

And some decisions are harder than others

Someone on your landing page is interested. Talk up your offer again. Speak to the problems it solves. And include some material that talks your own company up. Try adding a testimonial, or add a certification badge some third party has awarded you to build some further trust. Reinforce any time limits you may have.

And if you're going to have a link on a landing page that takes someone away from the landing page (and the opportunity to convert) think really hard about it. Generally, you won't want to do it. Keep your landing page focused on conversion — not distracting your prospect with other things to click. If you're trying to make a relatively big sale, you may want to split your content across a microsite, but make sure there's always an opportunity to convert.

Finally, how are you getting people to convert? Probably a form, right? How long is this form? While long forms can help qualify your leads, every time you add a field to a form, you decrease the chance that someone's going to fill it in. They might take a glance at a long form and decide it's too much work. They might get halfway, encounter a question they don't know how to answer, or don't want to answer, and give up. They might be okay with giving an email address, but not want to invite a phone call by sharing their phone number.

As a rule of thumb, you'll want first name, last name, and email at a minimum. You can probably safely get away with a couple more, like company name or reason they're contacting. And even better, when you're sending people to a landing page from an email, you can use progressive forms in platforms like HubSpot to automatically fill in or hide fields asking for information you already have (because they're already your contact, right?).

Then, where is this form? Often, a form is best at the top of the page for someone to fill in immediately. But there are circumstances when you might want it lower down. If someone's clicking in from an ad, for instance, and this is the first time they're visiting your site, they're probably not ready for a major expense right away. They'll probably be more receptive to that if you've got them to consume some content first, or if you're offering them the chance to find out more rather than purchase immediately.

If you're not seeing conversion on your landing page, review your content (again), minimize the information you're asking for, and control where readers are able to click away

Even After All This, You're Still Not Converting?

If you've checked every potential friction point and oiled it up so that it should be running smooth as butter, and you're still not seeing conversion, it could simply be that the offer itself lacks inherent appeal.

rejecting an offer

Not all offers were meant to be

Maybe the 20% discount is just not high enough. Or maybe you put it on a product that's just not interesting enough — it could even be a seasonal issue!

If this is the case, then it's probably time to end the campaign. Or at least this phase of it. But don't feel bad. Even when a campaign doesn't work out, you're still going to learn a valuable lesson and gain data. In this case, you'll know that the 20% discount, on this product, at this time of year, to this audience, just isn't appealing enough to justify offering it.

So What Can You Do From Here?

All is not lost. The marketing materials you created for this campaign can always be repurposed for another campaign in the future.

And depending on the data, you can probably still glean some useful insight. If you got people all the way to the landing page and couldn't convert at that point, you do know that to some extent, those that did make it there were interested. This may indicate that a related offer that gives away just a little more is what they're willing to commit to. You can even test this in some cases.

If your traffic is high enough, you can try a retargeting ad campaign (or for existing contacts, a follow-up email) to promote a 30% discount. Make a point to emphasize that this offer is even more exclusive, and you might see those conversions trickle in after all.

Otherwise, dust yourself off, head back to the drawing board, and try something new with what you've learned. At the very least, you never have to make the same mistake twice.

We never make the same mistake twice. Flawless Inbound is a marketing and sales transformation partner that's helped drive innovation and change in more than 80 B2B organizations across Canada and the US — and we know our way around building and optimizing marketing campaigns. Get in contact with us and we'll dive into your campaigns, figure out the best way forward, and execute.

Want to read more, first? Check out this guide on how to do content marketing better — just by talking to people.