Presumptions Can Kill Online Marketing

Never assume you know how you achieved success online.  Theories are fine but every theory that we intend to take action on needs backed up with data.  Running online marketing campaigns on presumptions will lead to erratic results and makes it impossible for consistent gradual improvement.

Recently I was working on an ongoing online marketing campaign to promote events.  One event in particular got a surge of registrants.  The owner of the company was thrilled.  He then declared that the success must have come from the new list of email addresses that had been added to the subscriber list.  These new arrivals were 200 (roughly) people that had opted in to receiving promotions at a trade show.  The event had 40 registrants (roughly) so if they all came from the new list that would represent a 40% conversion.  A phenomenal number!

A problem arose when a follow on promotion was developed and sent there was no response.  All 200 people had suddenly lost interest. In fact 10 unsubscribed, a 5% attrition rate.  How had things gone so poorly?

Upon analyzing the initial email only 1 of the 40 registrants came from the new list of email subscribers.  The other was a mix of people who found the event through internet sources and long-standing email subscribers.  The second email did poorly because it was based on a false presumption.

My theory (haven’t proved it with data) is that the new list responded unfavorably because they got an email and then a quick follow on email presuming they were interested.  Immediately getting two emails and assumptive “sales” language led to a distinctly negative response.  They feared they were opting in to a SPAM list.

It turns out that the email subscribers that registered for the event had, on average, been receiving promotional emails from this company for 3 years.  The spike had more to do with the topic and presentation than a fresh list of names.

Don’t take action on presumptions.  It costs time, money, and future opportunities.  It’s what you know for sure, that just ain’t so, that can cause the most problems.  Use your email and web data to confirm your theories before acting on them.

Note: These numbers are rounded to easily illustrate the point and provide some anonymity

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