It’s important to learn from your mistakes, but it is better to learn from other people’s mistakes, and it is best to learn from other people’s successes.” – Jim Rohn

In this light, framing a mistake as a learning opportunity seems like a get-out-of-jail-free card. We’re surrounded by people making mistakes. We’re surrounded by people having success. If we keep our eyes open, shouldn’t we be able to avoid most catastrophes? I don’t need to get food poisoning to figure out raw chicken is a bad idea — I had a friend in high school make that mistake for me.

So, in the spirit of avoiding mistakes altogether, we asked members of our account team to call out the mistakes they see marketers making time and time again.

Taking numbers out of context

Whenever you’re dealing with campaign stats, you’ll get the question, “Are these numbers any good?”. With that, some marketers will consult the Google machine, asking, “What’s a good bounce rate?” then compare their findings.

This is a mistake because you can’t separate stats from the context of your campaign. Bounce rate is impacted by event tracking, acquisition channels, the landing page, and so much more. When it comes to stats being good or bad, there are many variables you need to consider.

It’s the same with sports. In basketball, big guys often shoot a higher FG% than guards. This statistic alone suggests they’re better shooters when in reality, they’re just closer to the net. You don’t need to be an NBA fan to know LeBron James (51% FG) is a better shooter than Jakob Poeltl (62% FG) despite what the stats say. When it comes to numbers, there’s always a story.

Making too many assumptions

When you assume, you make an ass out of you and me may leave a lot on the table. Assuming too many things about your audience — the best platform to reach them, the type of messaging that will resonate with them, the most compelling offer to dangle in front of them — can result in a strategy that is too narrow. We prefer to spend time upfront testing a bunch of different ideas and analyzing the early results before determining the best strategy to carry forward. Gathering a sufficient sample size of data by running multiple creatives on different platforms may cost a little extra upfront, but it’s the best way to get the most out of your budget and campaign in the long run.

Setting it and forgetting it

The beauty (and the curse) of digital tactics is that you don’t send them to print and live with what you’ve published forever. Because marketers are often stretched too thin, especially when it comes to digital tactics, it can be really hard to continuously update and improve. But it is incredibly important.

Unlike more traditional tactics, you can’t launch a digital campaign and then assume it doesn’t need your attention anymore. It’s important to check in during the first week to see how things are going and to make sure the early returns make sense. After a couple more weeks, you should be looking at ways to optimize. Even after a campaign is done, you should be pulling out insights to make your next campaign even better. The same goes for a website. You can always do better.

Not empowering your team

We’ve seen far too many examples of marketing teams that are bottlenecked by approvals. Why is your VP reviewing a blog before it can get published?! You went through so much effort to hire a marketing rockstar, so trust in your hiring, trust in your people, and let them run!

It can be helpful to think about the worst-case scenario of empowering your team. Does a blog maybe go out with a typo? Are you missing a few keywords on your SEM campaign? The alternative is that nothing happens. Nothing gets done, leaving your marketing team to pull out their hair and search browse job boards. We urge leaders to choose their battles and become comfortable with “good enough”.

Doing what you’re told instead of doing what’s right

If I go to the mechanic to take my winter tires off and they discover my brakes have been cut, I’d like them to tell me. The same goes for the dentist cleaning my teeth. While I want to spend as little time in the chair as possible, by all means, tell me if you find something growing, nesting, or hatching in the back of my mouth.

The same thinking should be applied to marketers. If you’re asked to run a Twitter campaign for a business whose website isn’t mobile-friendly, it’s your job to at least talk about changing the plan. Sure, it’s easier to go with the flow and do what you’re told, but if doing what your told won’t provide value or lead to results, what are you doing besides wasting time and budget?

And that’s the common theme across each of these items — they stem from doing what’s easiest. It’s easier to take numbers at face value than it is to research and understand the story they tell. It’s easier to set it and forget it. In marketing, to always take the path of least resistance isn’t a mistake. It’s malpractice.