Why Most Marketing Campaigns Fail Within 3 Months


Over the years, I’ve been privileged to work with companies of all sizes… from startups to fortune 500 companies. The reason they typically hire me or other consultants is because their internal marketing campaigns are failing.

No matter what size the company is, within three months they cut their new internal marketing initiatives because they feel the initiatives aren’t working.

Sadly, it doesn’t just apply to someone else’s company… your marketing campaigns are likely to fail too.

Here’s why:

You plan your budgets quarterly

Marketing isn’t always a quarterly expense. Some things like SEO can’t be turned on and off like a light switch. You have to continually do them even when you are losing money in the short run in hopes that you will make money in the long run.

Depending on the type of marketing campaign you are planning, budget it correctly. Don’t look to do something for a few months and then renew it if it is working and cut it if it isn’t. I doubt you’ll get an ROI from your inbound marketing efforts within three months.

Granted, if you are doing a pay-per-click campaign, you can stop it within a few months if you are not getting an ROI, but most marketing campaigns don’t work this way. Generally, you should plan your marketing spend on a yearly basis, not quarterly.

You’re copying your competitors

I used to make this mistake a lot when I first started my entrepreneurial career. Instead of being creative, I just looked at what my competitors were doing and copied it.

What works for your competitors won’t always work for you. They may have been doing pay-per-click advertising for years, and because their quality score is so high, their cost per click is low. But if you decide to copy their campaigns, your quality score won’t be as high when you are just starting out, which means you will have to pay more money per click than your competitors.

Don’t look to copy other people because most marketing channels are saturated and expensive. Start thinking outside the box and consider testing new means that aren’t as easy to copy.

A good example of this is content marketing. For example, KISSmetrics has a ton of competitors, but we will always generate more traffic than they will because we are better at content marketing. And even though many of our competitors have more cash than we do, content marketing is a difficult thing to copy even if they threw a million bucks at it.

We used a creative marketing tactic to succeed versus spending thousands of dollars on the typical channels that our competitors are using.

Don’t let money be your excuse because there are always ways to acquire users even when you don’t have a lot of cash.

Your marketing efforts aren’t funding themselves

It’s not easy to create a positive ROI in the short run, but it is possible. The way you should be thinking about marketing is to split up your campaigns in two buckets. The first one is campaigns that will provide an ROI within a few months, and the second group is campaigns that will provide an ROI in the long run.

Campaigns like pay-per-click advertising or remarketing can provide a return within 30 to 60 days. SEO, social media marketing and content marketing are campaigns that are more likely to provide an ROI in the long run.

Before you start any of your marketing campaigns, you should ideally tackle a few methods that will provide a quick return. The reason you have to employ a few tactics versus one is because some won’t work out the way you wanted.

Once you start making some money from your current campaigns, you can start investing in long-term campaigns. This way you won’t be losing too much cash because your marketing campaigns are starting to fund themselves.

You are not maximizing your profit

Chances are you are tracking in-session ROI and not your lifetime value of your customers.

An example of tracking in-session ROI is spending $500 on your pay-per-click campaigns and generating $1,000 in revenue. Usually, you would consider that a successful campaign.

What you should also be tracking, however, is your lifetime value per customer. If you learn that a customer is worth $1,000 in the first year, but $5,000 over the course of three years, you can hypothetically spend up to $4,999 on marketing in the short run assuming you have no other expenses. Granted, you wouldn’t want to spend that much to acquire a customer, but if you increase your pay-per-click spend to $1,000, you may realize that you’ll be able to get five times more customers compared to only spending $500.

In the short run you may not make any money, but in the long run you will make a lot more.

You shouldn’t optimize your marketing campaigns for in-session revenue. Instead, you should ideally be optimizing them using lifetime value metrics as that will allow you to acquire more customers and make more profit.

You’re only focusing on traffic, not conversions

If you ask any marketer what his/her marketing plan for you may be, the marketer will usually talk about how he/she can increase your traffic. But traffic doesn’t always equate to more revenue.

Marketers shouldn’t only be driving you traffic, but they should also be driving you customers. Part of their job is to make sure people are converting. That means they need to monitor spend on irrelevant traffic, and they will have to figure out how to modify web page elements and copy to boost conversion rates.

A/B testing isn’t something that is optional! You have to include it in your marketing arsenal. If you can double of triple your conversion rate, that means the cost to acquire a customer will go down by half or even three times.

If you don’t think A/B testing is valuable, just read this case study on how we were able to boost our conversion rate by 363%. That had a huge impact on our bottom line.


Strategy is just as important as the marketing tactics themselves. Before you start any marketing campaign, you should figure out what your goals are and find the most efficient ways of achieving them.

Without strategy, even the greatest marketers can fail. If you don’t think things through, you will just waste time and money.

What are some other reasons that cause marketing campaigns to fail?