10 reasons marketers fail (and how they can start outperforming the competition)

By John Koetsier June 24, 2019

Why are you not reaching your maximum level in marketing?

Your goal as a marketer is to drive your company’s growth performance. That might be user acquisition. It might be customer retention. It might be share of wallet, revenue, or some other metric that is critical to you.


Your goal is to beat the competition. Here’s ten reasons you fail to win.

10 reasons marketers fail

1: You’re paralyzed by inertia

According to eMarketer, almost 50% of marketers are using metrics they don’t like and that don’t work because they lack the power to change them. 30% say the existing metrics are too embedded. 10% don’t know what might work better. 6% say a boss needs to fix it, and 3% don’t have buy-in from their leaders.

If your metrics don’t make sense, your marketing won’t drive needed behaviors. Become a change agent and make it happen.

2: You’re blocked by fear

In Scaling Mobile Growth, we revealed how the best marketers get more and pay less for better results. The problem with poor performers? They worry that scaling beyond existing partners is dangerous or difficult. So instead, they simply try to optimize in place instead of experimenting with new, unproven options. But with the right tools, scaling is both easy and safe.

3: You fail to kill poor performers

A huge car dealership near where I was born had a ruthless practice. Every month, the sales manager would fire the lowest-performing sales person. I’m not saying it was a right or good way of managing a business, but that dealership’s owner became a billionaire.

Fortunately, with ad networks, it’s much easier.

Kill the bad publishers.

Just delete them from your ad networks’ traffic source, exactly like N3twork does. You’ll generally see an immediate uptick in performance from that ad network. And if you don’t … be ruthless with the ad network. That’s a lot easier than firing an actual human being with a spouse and a child, and it will help make your metrics sing.

4: You don’t understand your metrics

Marketing is now a science. There’s math involved. It’s not necessarily super-easy, and it helps if you know some Python.

Not everyone on your team has to be a scientist or a developer. But you definitely need some very significantly skilled and smart people who can help you build models, review progress, and keep you on track. And all the team needs to buy into the metrics.

5: You’re not aligned for success

One teammate is the user acquisition manager. Another is in charge of maximizing in-app purchases. Yet another is focused on ad monetization. Without coordination and shared KPIs, the team is in for trouble.

For example, more valuable new customers might cost more to acquire than less valuable customers, but if the KPI for acquisition is fixed, you may never find the new users who generate the highest return on investment.

You can double that when a large company has multiple apps, especially a gaming company.

If users don’t cross-pollinate across your games, and the UA managers for a game that monetizes weakly take the users that might otherwise have gone to a game that monetizes strongly … the company suffers. Alignment of incentives and rewards is tough, but necessary.

6: You have no overall strategic direction

Marketing teams are growing. It’s not unusual for larger companies to have dozens or even hundreds of employees who are directly and indirectly involved in marketing. Without a common definition of success that every team member is working towards, your best-case scenario is that everyone is aiming in different directions.

Worst case? Opposite directions.

7: Your creative sucks

If your creative sucks, you’re in big trouble.

As we highlighted in Scaling Mobile Growth, Nielsen says that the quality of your creative is responsible for as much as 49% of all sales lift. The Journal of Advertising tells us that creative impacts 13 key variables in five separate stages of the ad experience. And Ipsos says a full 75% of an ad’s ability to make a positive brand impression is due to creative … so much so that award-winning ads generate 11X share growth.

While creative fatigue isn’t as simple a problem as it seems, quality creative generates higher click-through rates. That gives you the opportunity to convert at a higher rate as well.

The good news? You can get granular creative analytics across all your media sources and ad partners in one place.

8: Your messaging doesn’t appeal to your target audience

Marketing messaging is often very appealing … to the people who are making the marketing. This is understandable but not precisely smart.

Test, measure, and change. Your messaging and offers need to appeal to your target audience, or at least some audience that you don’t know yet should have been your target audience.

Need we say more? This is an automatic fail.

9: You are targeting the wrong audience

Half of all gamers are women but your ads titillate teenage boys. The CMO needs your product but her BI manager buys it. Rich households want your service, but their housekeeper can influence their decisions.

You need to find the right audience, and you also need to find the people who surround the decision-maker and help him or her make choices.

10: You have poor timing

Advertise when your potential customer can act. That seems simple, but even the biggest, most technologically savvy, and best-funding companies on the planet often fail to follow this rule …

For months, I’ve been getting push notifications from a very large and very successful company about new apps to try on my bulky VR headset … while traveling to other cities, countries, and continents. The likelihood of my boxing up and carrying the VR system to each and every location I travel verges on zero.

While you can’t ask for every permission when a customer installs your app, ask for the ones that make sense … and can make you smarter about outreach.

The no fail zone: setting yourself up to win

Great marketing requires great marketers. But to be great in a data-driven word, marketers need great tools. You need to automate data collection, normalization, and standardization. You need to see where your best results are coming from across media sources and ad networks.

In addition, you need to know what creative performs best. And you need protection from conversion-stealing ad fraud.

We make Singular better every day for the world’s best marketers at brands and enterprises you know, like Lyft and LinkedIn, AirBnB and Wish, Zynga and Rovio.

Find out what they know.

Take Singular for a spin today.

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