Marketing is both an art and a science, calling on an almost intuitive understanding of the consumer combined with measurement, evaluation and precision. When marketing efforts become detached from one or other of these roots, marketing activities are doomed to failure.

Marketers can sometimes become so absorbed in their marketing campaigns that they forget the importance of utilising rigorous analytics to measure, and then improve, results. On the other hand, other marketers can be so embedded in the marketing analytics that they get bogged down in data and lose sight of the consumer entirely.

Marketing might be essential, but unfortunately it only works if you’re doing it right… Bad marketing is no better than not marketing at all.

Here are the 5 most common traps that marketers fall into and how to skirt around them.

1. Not mapping the consumer journey

In other words, you need to know where your customers come from. Many businesses get so caught up chasing the sale that they forget to track where that sale has come from.

Imagine you want to buy a pair of jeans. You spend some time researching online, then you pop into store on your way home from work to try some on. You think on it overnight and then buy a pair via mobile app on your commute the next morning. Where did that sale come from?

Purchases are multi-channel decisions. In fact, Google found that 93% of mobile phone users research purchases from mobile (for a staggering 15+ hours a week) but the majority go on to complete the purchase elsewhere – in store, or from a desktop computer, for example.

It’s crucial that marketers map the consumer journey using multi-channel or cross-device tracking, in order to better understand the purchase funnel. Understanding the path your consumers take to find you, engage with you and then ultimately buy from you, allows you to identify which channels are working best for you and you can then tailor your marketing strategy accordingly.

By mapping the cross-channel consumer journey you get insight into where your marketing efforts are delivering the best ROI, meaning you can focus your marketing spend on the areas that deliver results.

2. Failing to prioritise pre-testing

When you’ve worked on the same thing for weeks, when you’ve got the ‘no time for sleep’ coffee shakes, when you finally have a brand new and shiny marketing campaign to roll out, the last thing you want to do is put the brakes on, hold off on launch and start testing. Of course it works, right? Look at how much time, energy and passion you’ve put into it.

The marketing industry moves fast, and that can sometimes put extraordinary pressure on marketers to keep up – but it’s a tortoise and the hare scenario. Testing is as critical to marketing as any of the other elements of your campaign. Amazing new website… but not converting? Brilliant e-commerce app… but nobody’s buying? Pre-testing allows you to identify any potential hitches in your marketing plan so you can work around them – before they’re live and it’s too little too late.

Maybe your website is brilliant … but your homepage is causing a log-jam. Maybe that app could be the next big thing… but no one can find the check out button. If you don’t test it, you don’t know.

Split testing, or A/B testing, is the solution. Split testing allows you to pre-test elements of your campaign by taking a small audience, splitting them, and showing them slightly different versions of your campaign. The key is to keep every element the same apart from one – so when the split audience give different results, you know those results are directly linked to the element you changed. For example, you could split-test your email marketing campaign by sending identical emails with different subject lines. The subject line with the highest open rate can be rolled out across your whole campaign. Think how many potential customers you’d have disengaged if you didn’t test and you went with the worst performing subject line?

Here’s the results of a recent subject line we split tested via open-rates:

mailchimp email subject line split test results

By sending out the winning subject line, we achieved one of our highest click-through rates ever for an email campaign:

highest click through rate

3. Ignoring telephone leads

A lot of marketers will focus their time and energy on website leads because they tend to be the leads you get most of. Quantity doesn’t equal quality though. Marketers have something to learn from salespeople on this – ask any salesperson which leads they prefer and they’ll always answer ‘the telephone’. Telephone leads convert more: Fact. 10 -15 times more, actually.

The tendency in the digital age is always to look forwards –the next piece of tech, the next social network, the next big thing – but the telephone shouldn’t be ignored. Telephone leads might be naturally fewer than website leads but they’re high quality, because they’re a captive and engaged audience. If someone calls you, you know you’ve got their attention. There aren’t 1001 browsers open; they aren’t playing Candy Crush Saga with one hand while browsing new TVs with the other.

Correctly harnessing telephone leads is critical to successful marketing – which means tracking them correctly, and integrating on and offline activity so their behaviour makes sense within a wider context. Call tracking tools from providers like Mediahawk are perfect, allocating each unique visitor to your site a unique telephone number and providing extensive call analytics once they’re on the phone. call tracking links up online and offline consumer activity, allowing marketers to understand their campaign holistically while providing sales people with better qualified leads.

visitor call tracking

4. Being data-blind

Like snow-blindness, data-blindness comes about through over-exposure. Analytics are the buzzword of the moment in many ways and we have an overload of information. Whether it’s click-rate or open rate, bounce rate or conversion rate, we measure anything and everything.

The real key to successful marketing is to work out which of these is relevant. Different businesses will find value in different metrics – simply measuring everything and hoping for the best isn’t enough. Data is only meaningful if we can interpret it, if it has tangible value for the business. Every marketer needs to define the KPIs that are meaningful for their campaign – which comes back to your initial marketing goals. Go back to what you’re trying to achieve and work out which metrics are best/most relevant for measuring success.

5. Losing sight of the consumer

Losing sight of the consumer is the cardinal marketing sin. Testing is one thing. Leads.  Conversions. Data and more data. But at the centre of all of it is the consumer.

Marketers can often be guilty of assuming the consumer feels the same way about the brand as they do. It’s normal – when you live and breathe something, trying to imagine being on the other side of the fence can be difficult.

But the brand is what the consumer thinks it is – not what the brand says about itself.

Brand perception is one of the most important metrics to understand for marketers. At the heart of the purchasing decision is emotion. It’s emotion that drives the activity your behavioural metrics are showing – your likes, shares, and RTs are coming from an emotional interaction with your brand.

How your consumers think of, interact with and perceive your brand is absolutely critical to know – and informs your entire messaging strategy. You can have the most comprehensive understanding of lead source or conversion but without knowing your customer you won’t get your messaging right and without getting your messaging right, your marketing will miss the mark.

Really grasping this relies on attitudinal metrics – simple quantitative data can’t tell you how people feel about you. Surveys, focus groups and so on are the answer – interacting with your customer as a person, not a number.

Every business has its own unique demands but in all, effective marketing is that which is most closely aligned with the consumer. The consumer is at the heart of all marketing efforts – and successful marketing campaigns are those that test, track, measure, interpret, refine and seek to understand their consumer  at every turn.

Zoe-Lee Skelton

Zoe-Lee Skelton


Zoe-Lee Skelton, Senior SEO Consultant, Receptional