8 Big Marketing Campaign Mistakes to Stop Making NOW

Anum Hussain
Anum Hussain



pencil eraser

Launching a truly successful marketing campaign isn't easy. And it totally stinks when it goes terribly wrong. Trust me, this is coming from the gal who had to call off one of our biggest marketing campaigns at midnight, just five hours before the first email about it was scheduled to send.

To make matters worse, internet service went down in my apartment, so I sat on the phone with one our product managers at midnight as she cancelled every single marketing message about the campaign. I was frantically texting our social media manager, telling her to avoid any mentions of it the next morning. The campaign that half our marketing team was counting on to hit our numbers for the month -- and that our sales team was looking forward to in order to close hot deals -- kicked the bucket. Needless to say, it sucked. And it was all because of a mistake that could, and should, have been caught weeks in advance.

But boy did I learn a big lesson. And whether you've been launching campaigns your entire career, or you're just getting started, there is always room for improvement. In this post, I'm going to share 8 big mistakes you may be making with your marketing campaigns -- so you can erase them from your future campaigns. I hope it inspires you to share your own mistakes in the comments. Because let's face it: We all make mistakes, right?

1) Not Setting Timelines/Goals

The most basic and early stage mistake you can make is failing to set timelines or goals for your campaign. Whenever you plan a campaign, establish set deadlines for when you plan on accomplishing every component of the campaign. I recommend starting with the launch date and working backward from there. Think realistically about how much time is needed for each individual component (e.g. ebook creation, landing page setup, editing/revisions, email creation, social media creative, etc.), and set deadlines for when each task should be completed in order to accommodate your final launch date. Having such time-based goals in place will help ensure your team is on track, and you're working toward an actual event, not an arbitrary hope for finishing it.

In addition, make sure you set goals for your campaign. By setting real, measurable goals, you'll have the ability to determine if your campaign actually accomplished what it set out to. Think critically about what you want your campaign to achieve: Is it to generate more net new leads? Nurture existing leads by generating more reconversions? Increase your social media reach? You might also think about basing these goals off the results of your past campaign launches (when relevant), and use them to compare how well you did this time. A good way to approach this is to establish SMART marketing goals. SMART goals are those that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound. You can read about such goals in-depth in this blog post.

And if you're a HubSpot customer, you can also use the HubSpot Goals application to set goals for how many visitors, leads, and customers you hope to attract each month so you can track whether your marketing campaigns are actually helping to move the needle.

SMART marketing goals


2) Not Leveraging All Your Marketing Assets/Tools

A truly effective integrated marketing campaign involves a number of different marketing channels and tactics. As a result, you need to make sure you have all the right tools in place to execute your campaign and make it successful. Whether you're using all-in-one marketing software like HubSpot or are relying on several independent tools to make your campaigns work, make sure you have the following software capabilities and/or tools to help ensure success:

  • Landing Pages: Your landing page usually serves as the hub of key information pertinent to your campaign. Direct everyone to this customized page to help increase conversions.
  • Calls-to-Action: CTAs on your website enable you to call attention to and drive people to your campaign's landing page -- or wherever you want to drive traffic to.
  • Email: An email tool will allow you to spread awareness about your campaign as well as track performance metrics so you know who is actually engaging with your campaign messages.
  • Blog: A business blog can enable you to increase campaign awareness and offer fodder for social media sharing, which leads us to ...
  • Social Media: A social media tool can help you plan and schedule  promotional content for your various social networks. Furthermore, it can help you track interaction with your campaign's social content.
  • Analytics: How will you know which marketing channels contributes most to your campaign's success? How will you know how this campaign compared to past campaigns? A proper analytics tool can help you glean such insights. 

If you want to learn more about the proper tools needed for campaign success, download our free offer: The Handy Tool Kit for Launching and Measuring a Remarkable Campaign.

3) Not Integrating Your Efforts or Planning a Coordinated Launch

As you've heard time and time again from HubSpot, no one marketing channel should work in a silo. In fact, we just got finished talking about all the various channels and tools needed to make for a truly effective campaign. Making use of a variety of marketing assets is what makes a campaign a campaign, so it's important that your efforts are integrated and coordinated. Imagine an email recipient learning about your campaign, only to visit your Facebook Page and find it has absolutely no information about the campaign whatsoever. That kind of disconnect doesn't exactly support the integrated campaign experience you'd want your audience to have, does it? Furthermore, failing to leverage all your marketing assets prevents your campaign from achieving the complete reach it could have otherwise.

At HubSpot, when I plan a huge offer launch, I try to coordinate messaging between all of our teams. That could mean involving our design team to create an infographic as part of the launch, the blogging team to write a post to help promote the offer, the social media team to share some interesting content about the offer, and the email managers to notify their contacts about the campaign. Either way, I want the campaign to be executed as a coordinated, timed push, because you end up seeing a much larger return when all hands are on deck than when a single team tries to work on something without involving others.

Just take a look at the following screenshots of landing page performance for two offers we launched in November. The first shows how an offer performed without any coordination among various marketing channels. As you can see, while it did have an initial spike, it sort of ebbed and flowed in gaining traffic. However, the second screenshot had a much larger initial spike, and due to that coordinated, timed push, ended up resulting in much more traffic and overall reach than the previous offer.

Offer Launched in November Without a Coordinated Launch

not coordinated launch

Offer Launched in November With a Coordinated Launch

coordinated launch

4) Not Making Information Clear

Whether you're launching an event, a contest, or an offer, there are always specific details tied to that campaign that people need to know about. Imagine sending everyone to a webinar registration landing page without sharing when the live webinar will take place or who the presenters will be. Or imagine launching a contest and directing users to its landing page without clarifying the terms of the contest, or explaining what the actual prize is for winning. These may seem like "duh" moments, but you'd be surprised at how often they're overlooked.

Just the other day I saw a promotion on Facebook for new courses at a school, and when I looked them up, I noticed that the school had failed to include any course details, which is key information I need in order to evaluate the courses and make a decision. When I commented on the Facebook photo asking for such details, the school replied saying they planned on having it up ASAP (By the way, it's been four days, and no such details have been added). The lesson is simple: Don't launch or announce a campaign without hammering out the critical details first.

5) Not Understanding the Balance Between Working Independently and as a Team

This one is a major pain point for me. While it's a good idea to have one or two centralized campaign managers who are responsible for the success of a given marketing campaign, no matter how skilled you are, you should be involving others in a big campaign. Working completely on your own can prevent you from seeing things holistically, coming up with creative ideas for your campaigns, or getting fresh perspective that can improve your campaign's success. Other people's opinion can help develop and improve your own, so keep your ears open to others.

And while you shouldn't act too independently, you also shouldn't be too dependent on others either. Fresh and diverse ideas can help you take your marketing campaign far beyond your initial vision, but leaning too much on others can prevent you from making actual progress and sticking to your timeline. As the campaign manager who is gathering feedback, ideas, and suggestions, it's important to recognize when something needs to be discussed, and when something simply needs to be decided.

6) Not Solving for Every Stakeholder

While you may understand your marketing campaign's direct benefit to you or your team (e.g. more leads, greater social reach, more customers!), have you also considered the impact on the entire company? As your planning your campaign, consider also the impact it will have on your business' various stakeholders. Will your campaign hurt or help sales reps when speaking with prospects? Will it change how your support team prioritizes tech support calls? These, and many others, all need to be taken into consideration.

In early January, our marketing team had to decide between generating more leads and maintaining customer happiness. We created an offer that our visitors and leads would've definitely loved. But had we launched it, we would've rubbed our current customers the wrong way, since it gave leads capabilities that weren't even available yet to our current customers. While the results the campaign would've generated would have helped set us up for a really strong year, we decided to hold off on the campaign until we could ensure it was beneficial to both leads and customers. Remember: Your business needs both to survive. Keep in mind all your stakeholders and how they would be impacted by your campaigns before you put them out there.

7) Not Double Checking & Testing Your Assets

This is a huge problem that is so easily avoidable -- yet I come across it time and time again. You work hard on a campaign, it launches, and suddenly, you realize something is broken. For example, maybe you built a beautiful landing page, but nobody attached it to your CRM, so now all the leads flowing into your database aren't actually being rotated to sales reps. Or your email goes out with a broken link to the campaign's main landing page. Eek! But the worst part of this scenario is when your CMO asks you how this happened, and you say, "I thought [insert colleague's name here] was taking care of it."

Never assume. Never blame. Always double check every aspect of your campaign. At the end of the day, if something does go wrong, and you could have easily prevented it, you're not being careful enough. Remember that cautionary tale I mentioned in my intro? I made a mistake that would have been easily avoided had I double and triple checked my work. Test the entire flow of a campaign and all its components to ensure every asset is functioning as it should -- and get others to back you up. If you're worried about what could possibly go awry, check out this list of "30 Careless Mistakes That Will Totally Muck Up Your Marketing" to help you sanity check your upcoming campaigns.

8) Not Effectively Measuring Campaign Success

If you're not tracking your marketing campaign, oh honey are you making a big mistake! Remember how we talked about the importance of goal setting earlier in this post? Every part of your campaign should be measured in order to evaluate whether you're campaign was successful in achieving those goals. You should also be able to answer these key questions:

What parts of the campaign were most successful?

While your campaign could prove to be successful or unsuccessful overall depending on what your goals were, do you also know which specific components of your campaign or channels contributed most to that success? This is where channel reporting can be extremely important. For example, HubSpot's Sources tool breaks down visits, contacts/leads, and customers driven by your individual marketing channels. This can give you a better understanding of which sources were the biggest levers in your campaign's success, and which were the underperformers. Gaining this granular level of insight about your campaign can help you understand which efforts to double down on for your next campaign, and which channels might need some more attention.

parts of your campaigns successful2

As you can see in the screenshot above, there's also a small "check note" under February 22. That's because HubSpot announced its 82% growth in 2012 on this day. By marking this event in HubSpot's analytics using HubSpot's "Marketing Action" annotation feature, over time our reporting will show if the announcement had any impact on overall traffic, leads, or customers generated that day and will help us remember why there might have been a spike that day.

How did this campaign compare to other campaigns?

Using the "Marketing Actions" we just talked about, you can see how your campaigns impact your marketing results. But there's even more you can look at to compare the success of your campaigns to one another. For example, you could use your analytics tool to set up event tracking. This allows you to tag the various marketing assets of your campaign with a specific event (for example, "INBOUND Conference"). This will allow you to more directly compare one campaign to another.

While the HubSpot software can automatically add these tags for you, you can also add campaign tracking tokens to the URLs you use in your campaigns to achieve the same end result. Here is what the tracking token might look like for non-HubSpot users:


As you can see in this code, you have to specify the medium the person came from, the source of that medium, and finally, the campaign it's associated with. You can then use these tags to compare campaign to campaign more closely.

What mistakes have you made with your marketing campaigns? Share them in the comments and help us all become better marketers!

Image Credit: pj_vanf

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