The “Grumpy” Poet – Don’t Ignore the Elephant in the Room!


I’ll make this week’s rant short and sweet!

More often than not the answer to most problems is staring us right in the face.  Similar to coding, in marketing when we’re talking data – the numbers don’t lie! Yet, many of us out of fear, frustration, lack of trust, or empathy can’t see the the elephant in the room.

I’ll give you an example. We’re selling a product. We’re running a landing page campaign with 2 variants. The variants are testing slight copy and design changes. We have PPC and other forms of ads running to drive traffic, plus we’re optimizing for SEO. The campaign has been running for 4 weeks and traffic is high but we’re converting low. If we are tracking the data correctly we should be able to see where traffic is coming from, how long they stay on page, click percentages, heat maps, etc. Basically we should have a ton of data to troubleshoot with.

Enter elephant! 

“It must be the design!”, “The message is wrong!”, “I thought we SEO’ed this?”, “Why am I wasting money on this?” are just a few responses I’ve heard over the years in a situation like this. They may be right, but before we jump to any in-validated conclusions let’s take a look at the numbers. It amazes me how quickly people want to blame copy and design or lose trust in their agency before looking at the data to see where the problem lies.

In this situation we have high traffic and low conversions. This means PPC is working, but maybe it’s the wrong demographic? Or, maybe it’s something else. If we follow the data we can see where the drop off is. Bounce rates look good. People are clicking the “Buy” button. So where’s the problem? If we dig deeper we can follow the path through the buying experience. Ah! Suddenly we begin to notice a trend. The message and design work because, for the sake of this example, 73% of visitors are clicking on the “Buy” button. They make it all the way to checkout – then suddenly they drop off!

Why? Common sense would indicate it is either 1) the cost of the product 2) the shipping costs 3) shipping terms or 4) any other small detail with the checkout process. Now we have something to test! But, this is where it gets tricky. Clients rarely like to be accountable for low conversion rates on a campaign and bringing up the topic “you’re charging too much” needs to be handled very carefully.

Agency: “The numbers don’t lie! The drop-off is obviously at checkout, which means the message, the design, and PPC are good (of course they can always be optimized), we need to test cost and shipping. Maybe offer an incentive like a discount?”

Client: “It’s not the cost. We can’t lower it. The messaging is just off. Let’s iterate the copy and design.”

I could go on, but you get the point. This is where campaigns fail and relationships can be damaged. If you don’t trust the agency you’re working with make sure it is based on the data and not personal attachment to your product or the inability to change.

Don’t ignore that elephant in the room, it’ll only lead to more frustration and failure down the road.

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