What to do when your marketing failsYou’ve put together a strong course catalog. You determined a marketing budget, and you came up with some great marketing ideas. So, why aren’t your courses selling? Where are the profits? Where’s the return on investment? What went wrong? Don’t panic. Even fancy marketing firms in big cities can sometimes get it wrong. Let’s talk about what to do when your marketing fails.

Why did your marketing fail?

I’ve never put together a marketing plan that didn’t include an asterisk saying that all marketing is trial and error and anyone who tells you otherwise, is a liar. The truth is, not every plan is a winner, and not every losing idea is a total loss. You can learn a lot from the failed marketing ideas if you take the time to find out why.

When email marketing fails

Did you send out an email campaign? What happened? What were the open rates? Were the links clicked on? Were the links clicked on but no purchase was made? Each of these creates a whole list of potential problems and solutions. If the open rate was low, perhaps the email was sent at a bad time. Each industry has best and worst times to send emails. Some suggest early morning is best while others argue later in the day is better. Experiment with send times to determine if this is the cause of lower open rates and if those rates can be improved with optimized send times.

Subject lines are also a potential issue if the open rates are low. If the subject sounds like spam, it probably won’t be opened. Try A/B testing subject lines until you come up with a winning formula. I like to use the CURVE method.

If the email was opened but links weren’t clicked, what was your call to action statement? Was that statement made clear? Was the email copy strong enough to encourage the reader to click on your link? Try experimenting with call to action buttons. Buttons are said to have a higher click through rate than text calls to action.

If the links were clicked but no sale was made, perhaps the course is less interesting than intended, or perhaps the cost to value just wasn’t there. When this happens, look carefully at your value proposition. Is what your offering aligned with learner needs?

When other marketing efforts fail

Marketing is experimentation with human subjects. You form a hypothesis or value statement, you plan, you put forth the experiment that will test the hypothesis, and you find out whether you were correct or incorrect. Then you determine why the hypothesis is or isn’t correct based on the experiment. Sometimes the experiment is flawed. Sometimes the hypothesis is flawed. But keep experimenting. Did a pay per click campaign cost you more than you gained? Did you gain impressions but not conversions? Maybe you bid on the wrong keywords. Maybe you didn’t add negative key words. Maybe the ad itself was weakly written and lacked a call to action or urgency. Don’t give up. Keep experimenting. Einstein was a genius, but it still took many tries to validate E = mc 2.


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