Getting long-term results from your marketing efforts requires patience, but you should start to see measurable results early on. Early results are usually simple like a steady increase in traffic, more leads, and a slow and steady rise in sales. If you’re not seeing basic results following your efforts, it’s time to troubleshoot. 

To diagnose stagnant marketing efforts, think like an expert and begin with the following:

1. Prepare to face a potentially complex problem

Marketing experts are willing and prepared to face distressing possibilities. It’s not comfortable, but acknowledging the true root is the only way to find a workable solution.

Without diving into the data, it’s easy to come up with reasons your marketing efforts aren’t working. For instance, if your email open rate is less than 5%, the easiest explanation is that your subject lines aren’t intriguing. That might be true. However, if it’s not true, focusing on your subject lines while ignoring reality will prove problematic.

There are countless other explanations that might be causing a low open rate. For example, a low open rate could be caused by spam filters, sending emails too frequently, using too many similar subject lines, or an unsegmented email list.

Presuming poor subject lines are the culprit makes the problem feel tiny. Anyone can learn to create better subject lines; it’s an easy fix. However, making a problem feel small doesn’t necessarily solve the problem.

It would be crushing to find out you’ve been collecting irrelevant leads for the last few years and your emails are being filtered into the trash by people who don’t want to bother unsubscribing. That’s a big problem.

Unless you look at data to form conclusions, you might endlessly pursue the wrong solutions.

Does your data support your conclusions?

Always refer to analytics data (and beyond) before diagnosing the cause of your struggle. If your analytics data doesn’t support your conclusion, your efforts to solve the problem might be aimed in the wrong direction. 

2. Streamline all marketing efforts through connected teams

Whether you outsource parts of your marketing strategy onshore or offshore, the problem remains the same: your team is disconnected from those people. Sure, they’re always a phone call or video chat away, but that’s not good enough.

Taking an a-la-carte approach to each component of your marketing plan is the fastest way to delay your projects and get buried under endless revisions and miscommunications. If what you need is simple, it might work. However, once you start implementing high-level marketing strategies that require all components to be cohesive, it fails.

If you can’t handle all of your marketing needs in-house, you have to hire someone else. However, marketing experts don’t hire individual consultants and professionals – they hire professional companies that offer all marketing services under one roof. For instance, Blue Water Marketing provides multiple vital marketing services like SEO, PPC, content marketing, social media marketing, and website design. It’s easier and more affordable this way, too.

Start condensing your efforts

Get all your marketing tasks handled by one company.  When you follow this practice, your team will have an easier time communicating with everyone else involved in the project. Better communication results in faster turnaround and higher quality work.

3. Segment, segment, segment

When email marketing efforts show signs of slowing down, marketing experts revisit their segments and lead sources. Are leads being segmented properly according to the source of acquisition? Can segments be broken down further into more segments?

Segments are the lifeblood of email marketing. Marketing expert Neil Patel points out that segmented marketing campaigns get 14.37% more opens and 64.78% more clicks than unsegmented email campaigns. That’s an undeniable difference. Segmented campaigns do better because the messages are specifically tailored to a narrow niche within the broader market. 

Segmenting allows for targeted messages

Segmenting holds targeted marketing power. For example, say you sell wool socks. With an unsegmented email list, you can’t send out messages that speak specifically to people living in snowy climates. The moment you advertise your socks as a way to keep warm in the snow, your leads from sunny Florida will unsubscribe. However, sending a general message to all your leads won’t create a sense of urgency to buy your product. 

One solution is segmenting your leads based on climate. Market your wool socks to one group as a way to stay warm in the snow, and market to the other group as a way to stay cool in the summer. Wool regulates body temperature, so both messages are true. Yet neither message would be well-received when sent to the opposite group. 

4. Evaluate analytics data

It’s indisputable that data is critical to growth. According to a 2016 McKinsey survey, some marketing leaders underestimate the importance of analytics and the role data plays in corporate success. In past surveys, data and analytics were ranked much higher in importance. This is a frightening trend. 

Data might seem boring, but it’s the only foundation from which sound decisions can be made. Sometimes you might not have enough data, but any data is better than nothing.

Forbes Councils Member Chris Gerbig discusses the results of this McKinsey survey and talks about the role data analysis played in his clothing startup, Pink Lily. Gerbig says, “Understanding the numbers behind the business and crunching them to make decisions was absolutely critical to the initial success of our start-up. Even in our earliest days, we were investing money, time and resources into data analytics because we knew that was our key to outsmarting competitors.”

What does your data say?

To get a good idea of what’s going on, you have to look at numbers in a meaningful way. You can’t just see that you’ve had 100,000 visitors in the last month and conclude your traffic generating efforts are a success. 

Dig deep into the numbers to find out where your visitors are coming from. If you’re not getting a good flow of traffic from your PPC campaigns or other advertising efforts, you’ll know where to focus your efforts.

If you haven’t started collecting data with a bonafide analytics program, check out Matomo. Formerly known as Piwik, Matomo is the ultimate hosted analytics program. If you’re already using Google Analytics, you can use both, but once you try Matomo, you’ll probably leave GA behind. 

5. Look for inconsistencies in analytics data

How do you know your analytics program is crunching data correctly if you don’t verify some of the data manually? It seems like a daunting task, but it’s worth verifying. Since data controls decisions, inaccurate data can lead to poor decisions.

Analytics programs can only process the data in the way it’s programmed to. A mistake in the programming will produce inaccurate results.

For example, many years ago a popular application for scheduling social media messages factored failed messages into engagement data. This watered down the success of each message. For instance, when a company scheduled 100 messages and 20 failed to publish, engagement rates should have been calculated based on 80 messages. If all 80 messages had engagement, that would generate a 100% engagement rate.

Unfortunately, a glitch in the programming calculated engagement rates as if all 100 messages were published. While a 100% engagement rate was achieved, the program reported an 80% engagement rate. 

You may want to consider hiring another marketing expert

If you’ve gone through all of these strategies and still seem stuck, consider hiring another marketing expert to help. The longer you wait to solve the problem, the harder it will be on your customers and staff. 

Marketing experts hire other experts all the time. If your results are stagnant, reach out to a local agency and see how they can help.