I was once jokingly talking to my husband when we were dining: “Look, a lot of marketers teach people how to grow the subscriber base, nurture relationships with influencers, become featured on Huffington Post. They tell the world how to get tons of visitors and followers in the end.
With our bumps and failures, we can teach people how to do marketing things in a wrong way — send cold emails, write articles for a corporate blog, run advertising campaigns, contact major media channels with the guest post to submit. So if people follow this path, they will end up with nothing!”
Myriads of factors affect the outcome of the plan. Publish a post early in the morning and views statistics may be the opposite of what you would expect from the article posted later in the day.
The more you try, the better combination of parameters you come up with to reward your efforts. Until many attempts are made, wild luck will be the one to predetermine the ending of the story.
That’s why I decided to dedicate this article to a failure rather than a victory.
Most of the time it is difficult to say for sure whether one particular endeavor gets traction. You can duplicate many things, but success is not one of them.
At the same time there are predefined fatalities that can certainly wreck you.
You don’t hear much from potential advocates of those failures because they are either ashamed of revealing embarrassing numbers or they are no longer in the position of sharing their discoveries (they were fired or went bust).
I’m not ashamed of my failures.
As Thomas Edison once said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
So I’ll proceed with Kraftblick failure story.
They say “The shoemaker’s children always go barefoot”. It’s hard to admit but we are that shoemaker.
A couple of years ago we have created AdWords advertising campaigns for our own brand for the first time.
We launched our ads at the end of August, 2014 and got ready for a flood of leads.
To our surprise, we have found out that we needed to pay around $10 per user’s click to be displayed on 2–3 position in Google paid search results.
It didn’t make sense to us for two reasons.
- Our clients from B2C industries payed $1-$3 per click in AdWords.
It was simply painful to spend 10x more than they did. Even though AskToFix didn’t belong to B2C. How messed up our thinking was!
2. We had been working with small clients and their small advertising budgets.
One lead from PPC advertising would cost us $350 assuming $7 cost-per-click (we managed to decrease it from the original point) and 2% website conversion rate.
No adequate lifetime value of a customer with $200 monthly advertising budget was able to cover such expenses.
In a few days we quit AdWords for the first time.
The next time we decided to go with AdWords for our brand was the end of July, 2015. One year after the attempt #1.
We knew that nothing was changed in competition intensity between advertisers in AdWords, but it was us who changed.
Our team gained loads of valuable experience over the year, reconsidered company’s positioning and also readjusted pricing.
We were ready to handle $10 click cost in AdWords.
After re-launching our updated Google paid campaigns for the second time, we faced something we didn’t expect.
The click on the same keyword — adwords services — now cost $20.
Advertising prices doubled in AdWords in just a year!
We weren’t prepared for that at all. We got scared and quit AdWords for the second time a short time after.
We grew older and revised our math.
The problem with our calculations was that we actually did better with AdWords than our pessimistic scenario suggested.
Sometimes one lead came out of 30–40 visitors instead of 50 as we planned.
Other times, lead-to-sale ratio was much higher than 10%.
We should have been more persistent.
We should have run AdWords campaigns for longer than a few weeks before jumping into the conclusions.
So we decided to try AdWords for the third time.
We checked Keyword Planner in AdWords and that’s what we saw.
Out attempt #3 never happened.
The competition went crazy for AdWords services in Google.
By that time we have already managed to make AdWords profitable for a bunch of B2B companies. The irony was that it was too late to get profit from AdWords for ourselves.
I want you to interpret our failure correctly.
I do NOT discourage anyone to advertise with AdWords. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be in that business anymore.
Instead, get away with this:
- Experiment with marketing channels long enough to get statistically valid outcome.
Don’t leave halfway.
- Keep pessimistic math in mind, but try no matter what.
It’s very likely that in reality your numbers will be different than industry average. If your order and customer lifetime values are high enough, this will back you up.
- Do not apply marketing rules from B2C to B2B.
In B2C you get results and modify the strategy quickly because traffic volume is coming instantly and in significant portions to analyze it. In B2B you take your time before traffic accumulates (often for several months) before making a big decision.
When I finished writing this article, I was told to make corrections and show the world that I’m not a loser. I refused to do that.
Kraftblick team came up with many brilliant strategies. Some of them didn’t play out, but there were also many ideas that worked surprisingly well.
“I’ve had my ups and downs, my fair share of bumpy roads and heavy winds. That’s what made me what I am today”. Remember Van Damme in Volvo commercial?
There are not so many people around who know AdWords better than I do. But as I said, I am not ashamed of my failures.
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My team and I deal with marketing every single day. We’ve discovered a number of secrets and little-known facts and we can’t help sharing them. Visit Kraftblick blog and say ‘hi’ to us. See you there!
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