Biggest Marketing Mistakes Every CMO Must Avoid

Even experienced CMOs make marketing mistakes. It’s inevitable . . . but it’s also aggravating. After all the time and research you’ve put into developing a brilliant marketing strategy, it’s disheartening to see minimal growth.

We’ve seen many chief marketing officers grapple with less-than-desirable results and disappointing ROIs. And many times, we’ve seen these same CMOs try to fix the situation by focusing on the wrong problem. Is the tagline too boring? Is the logo forgettable? Should we be spending more on PPC advertising?

While details like these are important to review with a critical eye, big improvement only comes from asking big questions. Here are five of the most common marketing mistakes CMOs make without realizing it. These are the errors that could tank your best promotional efforts and waste precious resources. If anything on this list sounds familiar, it may be time to make a big change.

Marketing Mistake #1: Failing to Focus on the Buyers’ Needs

All too often, CMOs and other marketing professionals fall into the trap of focusing on the product. All promotional copy and strategies revolve around the message that this product is really cool or really advanced or super high quality. While this instinct makes logical sense, it’s not in line with the psychological purchasing process.

Customers don’t buy anything just because it’s a good product. They make purchases that fulfill a need, whether that need is emotional or practical. Most likely, your company has already done the research and product testing necessary to determine that your product or service fills a gap for buyers. That’s great. It means you have a solid product. Now your job is to make sure your marketing helps customers recognize your brand as the solution to their problem.

Kaiser Permanente is a great example of this. Their video and radio advertising often shares a couple bullet points about their services. However, they never make the marketing mistake of placing Kaiser at the center of the message. The greater emphasis is always on customer needs.

Marketing Mistake #2: Insufficient Market Research

If you have a marketing strategy in place, you’ve probably already done extensive marketing research. You know what your competitors are up to, you know which marketing channels are best for connecting with buyers, and you know what keywords to use. But have you also done enough market research?

Market research focuses on a target group of buyers. This includes testing methods such as:

  • Buyer interviews
  • Focus groups
  • Field trials
  • A/B testing

This type of research allows you to determine the potential success of a marketing campaign or promotion before you throw all your resources behind it. Perhaps you want to find out if a specific package deal or promotion is more appealing to your target market than another. Or maybe you need to find out if your marketing accurately justifies your prices to the buyer.

Not only does market research help you avoid a major marketing mistake; it also helps you get to know the buyer better. This drives more productive communication and inspires new ideas for connection.

Marketing Mistake #3: Failing to Identify a USP

Your USP is your Unique Selling Proposition. This is not a bullet pointed list of why you’re better than the competition. It is the single, simple statement that communicates what sets you apart from everyone else in your market. And it should be at the heart of every single marketing decision you make.

Now, you may think that identifying a USP is an obvious “must do.” In reality, the biggest marketing mistake here is not that CMOs don’t name a USP at all. It’s that they do it incorrectly. 

Your unique selling proposition should be specific and factual. Consider the famous jeweler, De Beers. Before diamond rings were considered an almost mandatory matrimonial tradition, Da Beers struggled to guide buyers toward diamonds over other gems and gestures of affection. Their solution did not come with the vague pronouncement that “Diamonds are just prettier.” Instead, they came up with the legendary USP: “A diamond is forever.” A single accurate statement that makes a psychologically compelling argument for the diamond as a symbol of commitment.

Marketing Mistake #4: Inconsistent Market Positioning

Your overall marketing strategy should include specifics on how you want buyers to compare you to competitors. These specifics define your market positioning—the gap you fill within your industry.

For example, are you a luxury brand? The sustainable option? User friendly?

Consider how Whole Foods has become a massive national chain through smart positioning strategies. Rather than trying to convince you that this pricier market is another friendly neighborhood grocer, they lean into what sets them apart from the cheaper place down the road. Organic produce, all natural hygiene products, and a resource for anyone who wants to prioritize wellness.

Losing sight of your market positioning is among the top marketing mistakes for a few reasons. For one, it slows down your branding if each new campaign promotes a different angle. It also discourages buyer loyalty as customers don’t know how to make you their go-to resource for natural cleaning products or refurbished electronics.  

Marketing Mistake #5: Failure to Build Customer Loyalty

Never forget this essential statistic:

Most businesses get around 80% of their sales and profits from returning customers.

If you’re focusing all your efforts on attracting new customers, you’re investing 100% of your marketing in 20% of your potential buyers.

While you should put thought and energy into ushering new clients through the marketing funnel, never neglect retargeting. Build loyalty with referral promotions, exclusive deals, email marketing, and targeted social media ad campaigns. Not only do these efforts generate repeat business, but they can turn loyal customers into brand advocates.

What Now?

If any of these five marketing mistakes sound familiar, make fixing them a top priority. Every one of these errors is too big to ignore.

And because these are big-picture mistakes, you may discover that there is a problem somewhere in your overall marketing strategy. Maybe you went a little too light on the research or you targeted the wrong demographic. If so, it’s not too late to go back to the drawing board. Any effective marketing strategy is a cycle of monitoring, learning, and optimizing, anyway. Your adaptability as a CMO is what makes or breaks your advertising efforts.

If there’s anything we can do to help, let us know. We love seeing brilliant businesses shine, and we’re always here to help you steer clear of those troubling marketing mistakes.

3 Website A/B Testing Tools

A/B testing is becoming more and more common as teams realize how important it is for a website’s success.

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The Web is a huge, competitive marketplace with very few (if any) untapped markets, meaning that being successful by offering something unique is rare. Much more common is that you’re competing for the business of your customers with several other websites, so attempting to convert every visitor into a customer or upselling/cross-selling your services better could make all the difference to your bottom line.

Due to this, the market for A/B testing tools and CRO (conversion rate optimization) tools is growing exponentially. But choosing one can be quite a time-consuming challenge, so in this article, I’ll compare the best A/B testing tools to help you decide which is most suitable for you or your team.

A/B testing is about experimenting with visual and content changes to see which results in more conversions.A/B testing often follows usability testing as a means of testing a solution to a flaw in the user experience identified using metrics like bounce rate in an analytics tool like Google Analytics, and thanks to the depth and quality of A/B testing tools available now, A/B testing is accessible to designers as well as marketers and developers.


1. Optimizely

Optimizely is one of the leading — if not the leading — A/B testing and CRO tools on the market today. It offers analytics tools to suit users of all levels and a multitude of A/B testing tools. (You could think of it as the Google Analytics of A/B testing, with a much simpler user interface.)

Consider this scenario: You have an eCommerce store built with Magento. You’re aware that in certain cases it may benefit stores to add a one-step checkout solution instead of the standard multi-page checkout, but you’re not sure if your store fits that use case. You need to test both options and compare the results with/without the one-step checkout experience. You know that running two versions of the checkout simultaneously requires changes to the code, which is a complex matter.

With Optimizely, you can send a certain amount of your users to a totally separate checkout experience to collect conversion data. If the experiment yields negative results, you delete the experiment and the original checkout web page still exists and works fine. No harm was done.

With their Web Experimentation tool, which offers an easy-to-use visual editor to create A/B tests without requiring a developer (optional), the ability to target specific user types and segments, and create experiments on any device, Optimizely has all your bases covered.

Although you can run A/B tests without a developer, your variations can be more targeted (for example, your variations can go beyond color, layout and content changes) if you have the skills and/or resources to develop custom experiments with code. By integrating your A/B tests into your code, you can serve different logic and test major changes before pushing them live.

Also, if your product extends beyond the web, Optimizely works with iOS, tvOS and Android apps. Optimizely’s Full Stack integrations make it possible to integrate A/B tests into virtually any codebase, including Python, Java, Ruby, Node, PHP, C#, Swift, and Android.

2. Google Optimize

Google Optimize is a free, easy-to-use tool that integrates directly with your Google Analytics Events and Goals to make A/B testing quick and easy! It’s ideal for traditional A/B testing, focusing on comparing different CTA (call to action) elements, colors, and content.

Developers aren’t required for implementing Google Optimize since it’s as simple as adding a line of JavaScript to your website and then customizing your layout with the visual editor. With this, you can change the content, layout, colors, classes, and HTML of any element within your page.

It’s not as sophisticated as Optimizely, since it doesn’t allow you to create custom experiments with code/developers, but it’s free. It’s great for those starting out with A/B testing. For each Google Optimize experiment, you’ll need to specify which Google Analytics Goals or Events will be the baseline for your A/B tests. For example, if you were A/B testing a product page, you could use an “Add To Basket” event that you’ve defined in Google Analytics to evaluate which of your variations converts the best. The Google Analytics report then gives you a clear indication of which variation converts best. It’s ideal for those on a low budget!

Just don’t get carried away, as Google famously once did, by testing 40 different shades of blue to see which converted best!

3. Unbounce

Unbounce focuses on landing pages and convertible tools. Convertible tools use triggers, scenario-based overlays and sticky bars to A/B test offers and messages to learn when, where and why your visitors convert. An example? If a user tries to leave your site, they’re shown a discount code in a modal or a sticky header, and a test will determine which is more effective.

Landing pages can be an amazing way to validate your ideas, build excitement around a new product, and/or re-engage dormant customers. The problem with them is that they can result in false positives. If you get very few conversions you may feel like your idea is invalidated or demand for the new product doesn’t exist, when in reality users were just unimpressed and/or unconvinced by the landing. Unbounce helps you to determine what your landing is missing.

While you can choose from over 100 responsive templates designed for many markets, goals, and scenarios, and then customize it with your own content using their drag and drop UI, you can also integrate Unbounce with your own design, making a terrific solution for designers and marketers who need to collaborate. Unbounce also works with Zapier and Mailchimp, so data can be transferred across the other apps and tools that marketers use.


Author: Jamie Murphy

Related Articles