Test and learn

Everyone who has worked in digital marketing must at some time or other failed at a task or campaign. The entire ethos for all good digital marketers is to test and learn and make evidence based decisions and therefore these failures, just like in real life, can teach you more than the successes.

With this in mind, the best thing we can do is mitigate the risk of failure by ensuring all of our activities are as planned and well executed as possible. For example, at Kier we run a company blog which has seen a fair amount of success and has definitely met our original objectives. Without these objectives (an integrated approach, increased organic reach and an improved amount of positive mentions against our competitors) we would have no idea if this task was worthy of our valuable time.

I have seen so many social media accounts simply die a death due to no clear strategy and whilst they are given a lot of focus early on (or as part of a campaign) they are then just left to rot and in the long run actually do more harm to the brand than they ever did good. A neglected social media account says a lot about a company - usually the date the person previously maintaining it handed in their notice!

My latest analogy (those who have worked with me will know I love an analogy!) is that all digital activities/websites are like gardens. Unless you are prepared to continue to build, weed, cultivate and monitor them then there is little point having one in the first place.

In filming one of our #KierHeroes videos with our Kier Living team I was interested that their philosophy is to not only build the houses but also to regularly check back to ensure there are no problems and oversee any maintenance. This can also be applied to setting up any new online channels - the continued maintenance is as important as the build.


It's easy to neglect a lot of very important tasks early on and no doubt we have all been guilty of some of these either through misguided leadership, time and budget constraints:
  • A Google Analytics account with no goals/conversions
  • Social Media accounts with no objectives, content strategy or monitoring
  • Email campaigns that are not integrated into the marketing plan or followed up
  • Google AdWords campaigns that are not regularly checked and don't link to a bespoke landing page
  • Print adverts with no performance measurement or call to action
Google analytics flatline!
This could be a very long list and it is our job to ensure that nothing goes out the door that isn't part of a wider marketing plan. Sometimes it may mean asking some difficult questions but without some of the above our efforts will have little chance of the success being measured, being optimised to the maximum valuable insight being gained to prove we have not wasted our time and money.

I'm pleased to say that I have now reached a stage in my career where I am able to drive a campaign forward with a clear vision and objectives. Of course, some may not have the impact which was originally hoped for but if we can learn something from this the end result may be better than if it had worked. For example, we have learnt from trial and error that the best time to post our B2B social content is 3pm - 4pm (there's obviously a dip in workplace energy at that time) and for our B2C content a 7.30pm - 9pm slot works better (people are clearly multi-screening at home). Without some of our content falling on deaf ears this would not something we could have discerned.

The importance of learning from your mistakes cannot be underestimated as this is the best way ensure you constantly evolve and innovate.
'Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently' - Henry Ford
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