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Keeping your marketing campaign on track

We’ve all been there, the point of no return in a marketing campaign where so much time and money has been invested that it’s too late to pull the plug. Despite our gut instinct saying something isn’t quite right, despite seeing disappointing early results, we plough on because too many people are invested, we’re hopeful that results will improve and quite honestly, we’re not accustomed to admitting defeat at work. It takes a brave marketer to stop and check if the campaign is on track, know when to retrace steps, alter the path, or abandon the campaign altogether. How can we make this easier for marketers in future?

Using catching features in marketing

In the outdoors, ‘catching feature’ is the name given to a man-made or landscape feature beyond the destination you’re aiming for which acts as a trigger to stop if you have missed your mark. It’s something you identify at the start of the journey so that you know what to look for and don’t go too far beyond your destination before being able to course-correct. It’s the feature so obvious that even when you’re convinced that you’re on the right path, you have no choice but to admit you’ve taken a wrong turn. Embarrassing, maybe. Potentially lifesaving, yes.

Given the increasing pressure on marketing resources, can we apply this same thinking to prevent us overspending or going off strategy? What catching features can we identify at the start of a campaign to let us know we’re off track before it’s too late?


Applying catching features to different marketing channels…

  • You’ve created a digital ad campaign with the objective of generating leads. Despite the campaign having great reach within the first 48 hours, the traffic isn’t converting. You can leave the campaign alone to run its course and then analyse at the end when your budget has been spent, or you can set some catching features to course-correct before it’s too late. Depending on the duration of the campaign, you could set a weekly reminder to assess its effectiveness. After one week, if you have no or low leads, change the targeting parameters. Another week later and still no joy, change the creative. And so on. But it’s important to define the catching features up front. If you don’t have existing benchmarks to use, look for industry standards or ask the platform provider for average campaign results for similar brands. Crucially, decide at what point you end the campaign altogether. If you have no leads half-way through the campaign, maybe this isn’t the platform for your audience. There’s no shame in making the decision to stop spending and try elsewhere if it improves your chances of reaching your destination.


  • You’ve decided to host an offline event and start promoting it across channels to generate registrations. Sign-ups trickle in from different sources, but as the date approaches, your numbers are still low. You can forge ahead with the event, increasing your promotional tactics in the final days in a desperate bid for more registrations, or you can set some catching features to determine whether to postpone or cancel it. These should be clearly laid out from the start of the campaign so that you can identify where your audience drops out of the journey. If the open rate of your email invitation high but click through rate is low, you have time to rewrite the content and send again. If traffic to your landing page is high but registrations are low, try adding more information to sell the benefits of attending or simplify form fields for faster sign-up. Have you asked some trusted clients whether the event topic and format is relevant and engaging to them? Have you provided a feedback loop for questions and concerns? Have you ensured the date and time of the event accessible, not clashing with public holidays or other industry events? Is your venue in a suitable location and somewhere clients want to spend their time? There are so many factors at play that clear catching features for each channel need to be determined and, critically, the point of no return has to be defined where you decide that postponing or cancelling the event will achieve the results you want, even if a little later than planned.


The trick here is not to get so caught up in the momentum of the campaign that you miss the red flags that it might be going wrong, or not as successfully as you’d expected. Be prepared from the start to pull the plug and save resources if you need to.

Remember, if you over-shoot the summit you’ll end up walking up it twice…or you might just fall off the cliff edge altogether!

What would be your catching features to ensure success?


Let’s ensure marketing success.

How to map your marketing strategy

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