“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
~ Thomas A. Edison
When people read articles and see reports about a campaign that created a huge uptick in engagement they want to know:
How was it done?
How can it be replicated?
How can it be done for my campaign?
The reports will usually contain what elements the campaign used (email, landing page, direct mail, etc), how long the campaign was active and at the end some kind of visual display of how it performed when it finished. What a report has a hard time showing are the countless attempts that failed and the conversations that occurred after those failures. This post won’t include any stats, graphs, pie charts or data (well maybe a little data). This is about the part of the marketing process that no one talks about but is the most important.
Back in March of 2015 I approached one of the marketing managers and talked about redesigning the quarterly newsletter. This newsletter is sent to list of opted-in recipients whose email has been verified. For being an opted-in list the engagement data was externally low and that got me to wondering what is going on with this.
We sat down and looked at the current newsletter and broke down the redesign into a few steps:
1) Order the elements importance.
Yes, I understand all elements are important but by doing this we were able to cut the fat. You wouldn’t try and sell steak to a vegetarian. Yes, you may sell steak and it could be the best steak in the world but if the person doesn’t eat steak then you are wasting everyone’s time. So maybe bump up your vegetable options to the top of the newsletter.
2) Cut the fat.
By cut the fat I mean get rid of certain things that would not appeal to the audience we were sending to. It also gave us the opportunity to look at the newsletter from the reader’s point of view.
This is the step that could be where most redesigns hit a skid. I could have come up with a design that I loved and the marketing manager could have hated it. The most important thing to remember with a redesign is to not take anything personally. This is a process and should be treated as such. This can be difficult because as the designer I could have put in hours of work to be told “nope”.
The most important step by a country mile. The marketing manager and I went back and forth with redesigns for a few weeks. My job was to take what each of us envisioned and put it into a design. The most important thing that needs to be clear is that this is a redesign and that testing will happen so having different designs and ideas is crucial to success. Communicating why you like something or why you don’t is a conversation that needs to happen. Just saying, “I don’t like it” does no good for anyone.
5) Testing, Testing, Testing
This is a step that will show us if the direction we are going in is the correct one. This step can be frustrating because the hours of work put into this project can result in awful results. Failure cannot be looked at as a step backward. Finding out what does not work is almost more important than knowing what does work.
WE DID IT! 320% higher engagement (See I included a little bit of data) because of the redesign. The hard work paid off. But we never stopped looking to get better. We let the newsletter run and are monitoring the results and looking to see what is performing and what is not. We are always looking to see how we can improve it. If I was happy with something keeping the same baseline for send after send then I would not be doing the job I am being paid to do. If we don’t look to make it better than a competitor might and we lose that subscriber and possible sale.
From all the campaigns that I have worked on it's not the images, font, colors or number of assets in the campaign that will make it successful. The things that will make campaigns successful that you will never see in the reports are the steps in takes to create the campaign and the people that work together.