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Chapter #4: Testing leads to failure, and failure leads to understanding

5 May 2015
by Adam Oldfield

More on the failure later…

Years ago,it was easy to bamboozle prospective customers with complicated product descriptions. Without easy access to the internet for researching, reading reviews and comparing prices, it was simple: either they bought, or they didn’t.

But with the new millennium came a revolution that changed the way in which we thought about selling and marketing our products, when Steve Krug wrote ‘Don’t make me think’. In what’s widely considered a marketing bible, Krug describes the shift of when it became no longer acceptable (arguably possible) to sell to our customers simply by telling them what our products do.

The problem was that, previously, we’d given people too much credit. Because people are selfish. They don’t care about your passion for your products, or for the company. In fact, they care very little about anything other than themselves, and how buying your products will benefit them.

With that, a totally new approach to marketing was born; benefit-led and customer-centric.

A bullet-proof approach?

This is where we are today. On the whole, we know what people want. We know the best way to sell and market our products and we can hire people who are experts at it. All good, right?

Wrong. While ever there’s evolution in this world, the job of a marketer is never done. As a marketer, you must continue to test the theory. Whatever you think is the right thing to do, try to prove it wrong. Because that’s how you stay one step ahead of both your customer and your competitors. Evolution is vital to human survival, and the marketing industry is no exception.

Constantly test, constantly improve.

Approach, strategy and execution have to constantly change because the dynamic between marketer and marketee is always changing.

Now, we promised you stories of lessons learnt through our mistakes, so here goes.

Before the days of Force24, I found myself in a situation which I’ve since found myself in many-a-time. Back then, it was new to me.

I had created an email journey that was converting customers well. I was consistently hitting conversion targets and it was great! Then I got to thinking, as I always do, ‘how can we make this even better?’ Not every contact on the list was converting, so obviously this presents an opportunity. So how do we further improve that journey to increase conversions?

Well, it seemed simple. Not everyone was converting because different individuals were looking for different things. And I was selling them everything. So what we needed to do was to drill down and make it more personal.

Now, these leads were contacts searching for their next holiday. They’d search, we’d follow up with a journey selling the different destinations we offered, and they’d convert. Great.

But what if we started them on a destination-specific journey rather than a generic one? It would speak to them about what we know they want, and the deal would be closed. Just like that, we predicted we could double the current close rate.

So we got to work creating a set of killer destination-specific journeys and pressed the button to make the new journeys live. All we had to do now is wait for the leads to start rolling in…


What the hell was happening?

We had beautiful artwork and were only sending to the people who we’ve seen engagement from. Where was my uplift in conversions? Worse than that, why were they dropping?

After weeks of analysis and scratching our heads, we concluded that when people were searching, they were merely browsing. And by targeting them with only emails based on that destination, we’d actually inaccurately pigeon-holed them, ultimately killing the conversion rate. As expected, as soon as we set the old journey live, the conversions uplifted once again.

So what did I learn?

A very important lesson that has been with me ever since and influences every decision I make around building journeys and nurturing leads.

Test, test, test. And then test some more.

How have we improved this for marketers?

When I created Force24, I wanted to make sure that this didn’t happen to any of my clients. While this chapter is about testing, (yes, I should have tested…) there were other things that a clever piece of tech could have helped. 

Force24’s platform includes web activity scoring. This means that when someone is on your website, we are watching what they are doing, and building a full picture of what they are interested in.

That means that rather than just targeting them based on the last page they visited, we are taking into account a whole host of other factors before going in with an offer.

Force24’s platform has been built to avoid this. We monitor web activity even before we have an email address, building a complex persona for each user. We use this to target our communications.




Photo of Adam Oldfield
Adam Oldfield
Managing Director & Founder

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