May 24, 2018   |   Vol. 17   |   Issue 5
By Harold Maurer DCM & CeM, MGI Senior Account Director

Marketing May Be Automated, But It Is Not Automatic.

We live in an age of wonder. What is truly amazing is how much of what marketers once dreamed has become commonplace: one-to-one marketing to individuals – not mass audiences – GeoFencing a conference center to advertise to attendees, tracking marketing effort by source to the exact sale, and much more!

It’s simply amazing, isn’t it?

Yes. But amazing as it all is, and driven by our increasingly empowering technologies, I have always believed in this axiom that tempers all these wonders: marketing may be automated, but it is not automatic.

What’s Happening?

Consider this. Upon reading social media marketing results for two weeks in a row, you discover that total conversions from Facebook have dropped from about 2.4% to zero. Of course you ask, “What’s happening? ”

You look at ad placements, count clicks, check the content, and double-check that the ads are delivered to the designated target segments. All of it checks out so there can only be two possible conclusions: either the ads are no longer compelling, or something has gone technically haywire. One or the other; you can find out which through a process of elimination.

In most cases we discover something has technically not performed as expected – after all, value propositions, creative approaches, and offers typically do not go south very quickly. So try this: conduct a simple technical audit of the processes driving your results reporting. In social media advertising, this means testing the links in the ads, checking the site where conversions (sales) are made, and testing for the tracking pixels (Facebook, Ad Roll, Google, LinkedIn, etc.) embedded in your website. In the above case, the client was migrating to a new website in phases, and the tracking pixels were, in fact, not consistently working on some, not all, of the new pages.

Enter Stage Left: It’s Axiomatic!

Just because something is built, tested, and working doesn’t guarantee that it won’t break over time. Nothing in technology remains static for long. So here are some recent client examples of automated processes thought to be automatic but weren’t; parentheses indicate the cause:

  • A client’s join page was discovered to not allow anyone using a popular web browser to actually complete the association’s join process (website coding failure).
  • Only a small portion of Facebook advertising was converting clicks (corrupt tracking pixel on some but not all target web pages).
  • Zero response on a direct mail effort to lists where response rates were typically above .75% (truncated data in the direct mail data files).
  • No email response from direct acquisition email blast (typo in target address leading to a 404 error).
  • Comparatively low response levels of convention registrations to the annual convention (target URL led to a non-member convention description page, not to the registration page; took 7 clicks to reach registration).

First Principles: Audit the Entire Process Chain

Please understand, my intent is not to imply incompetence on anyone’s part. More appropriately, I wish to remind us all to cling to some basic principles that have driven direct response since day one. To avoid these and other similar, potentially expensive issues:

  1. Check every touch point of your single campaign’s customer experience process chain – you remember: call the 800 number, double-check the return address, and look up the URL on the printed form.
  2. Schedule monthly quality checks on the automated process, making sure you walk through the entire process by checking all the links – don’t forget those privacy statements, opt-out destinations, and home web addresses; shopping cart functions; and “Thank You ” responses; and landing pages – and every tracking code and pixel embedded in any of the eMarketing elements.

This advice may seem basic and self-evident. But based on my career experience with over 200 clients, who are pressed for time, short-staffed, or over-worked, we often wait for something to break. Then we fix it.

That’s fair enough. But one of the clients in the examples above had their situation running – or not running – for more than six months before they acted on it. You can just imagine what that cost them in unrealized revenue.

If you would like more information on auditing your process chain or strategically marketing your membership association, please call Harold Maurer at 703.706.0391 or email

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