Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Sometimes, the only thing you can change is your mind

So, you failed.

OK, let's not be too hard on ourselves.  Instead, let's say your marketing program didn't live up to the expectations you set.  What now?

No marketing program ever improves on its own.  We all know the expression "the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results," even if we really don't know who first said it.  Unfortunately, we can't change all of the elements of a marketing problem as easily as we can change, say, our socks.  After all, marketing teams have limited budgets and limited time which, in turn, mean that they may not have the wherewithal to change process, message or technology.

Sometimes, the only thing a marketer can change is her or her mind.

More often than not, however, changing one's mind will work just fine.  Here's how it works.  To make the approach more clear, I'll use the example of a consumer credit monitoring company for whom I had designed an unsuccessful program.

For the credit monitor brand, I had designed a welcome program for a 30-day free trial.  Welcome programs rank as some of the most effective campaigns in customer relationship marketing.  After all, customers often engage the most when they first become customers.  Think of how excited you felt to drive your new car for the first time.  Then think of how excited you feel now.

Welcome campaigns generally involve encouraging the the new customer to interact with the product to enhance their comfort with it.  For this client, we used email to drive customers back to the site to check their credit rating multiple times during the trial period.  We hoped that getting the trial users accustomed to the site would encourage them to start paying for the service.  Spoiler alert: it didn't work.  In fact, welcome program recipients converted to paid users at a lower rate than those treated with fewer, more vague emails.

What to do now?
  • First, change your perspective.  If your marketing program doesn't perform to your liking, ask yourself, "does it do what we intended it to do?"  Perhaps you had the wrong perception of the task, which naturally led to building your program on bad assumptions.

    In this case, we failed to take something vital into perspective.  Your credit rating doesn't change much over any given 30-day period, except due to credit fraud or a major purchase such as a house.  So we asked people to visit the site and look at a number that didn't move.  Why would anyone pay good money to watch something that doesn't move much?  Please, no PGA jokes.
  • Next, it helps to change objectives.  Don't take this suggestion to mean "declare victory and leave."  Rather, it follows from the change of perspective.  If you perception of the challenge changes, so should the ultimate goal.

    The goal for the credit monitoring trial switched accordingly.  We stopped focusing on getting people to look at their credit score, although we certainly didn't discourage them from doing so.  Instead, we started focusing on educating them about the benefits of a healthy credit score, such as enhanced access to loans of all types.  We included more educational material in the emails and pointed trial users to additional resources on the site.
  • Finally, don't forget to change measurement.  A change in objective generally means changing measurement.

    Our measurement of the credit monitoring trial email welcome campaign changed, too.  We looked at traffic on the education parts of the site as a better indicator than whether they looked at their credit score.

Have you ever successfully changed your mind about a marketing plan?  Tell us about it in the comments.

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