The Number One Reason Marketing Campaigns Fail: Confusion

Startup Productivity
Are your marketing campaigns confusing your customers?

There is so much effort that goes into marketing campaigns.

You have to make sure everything is in place in order to give the campaign the best chance to succeed.

However, in pursuit of perfect we tend to add more than we need to instead of reducing. This can lead to the biggest reason for marketing failure: confusion.

If your ads, social media messages or even homepage are confusing to your target customer then you’re missing out on sales.

In this article we’re going to look at some of the biggest causes for confusion in marketing campaigns and show you how to make sure that your target audience knows exactly what you do and how you can help them.

1. Copy: Headings, Descriptions, Etc.

Go to the example of your marketing campaign. Open up your homepage, PPC ad or social media profile.

Within a split second, see if you know exactly what your offer.

You might be able to figure it out because you’re involved in your business, but now have someone that isn’t familiar with your company look at the campaign. Can they figure out what you do?

Copy is incredibly important in marketing. It’s obviously important in AdWords ads where the text is often the only thing the audience sees, but copy is just as important on the pages on your website and on any other marketing campaign you create.

Each campaign should have razor focus. Don’t try to answer every question your audience has. Don’t try to do it all in one campaign.

Focus on the biggest issue your audience has (that you can solve) and from there you can come up with your content.

The other side of this is to use the language that your target audience uses. I see this often with design agencies.

The biggest heading on an agency’s homepage might be “Featured Work”. This might work, but what kind of work is it?

Start with a basic statement of what you do. Or in other words, what you provide for your clients.

For one design agency is might be: Website & App Design

For another it might be: Email & Messaging Design

And be careful to use the language your customers use. They likely don’t really care if you provide “Interactive Digital Design”. They want to know if you can provide them with a website.

2. Images: Photos, Graphics, Etc.

The next thing that can cause confusion is an awkward image or photo.

Have you ever gone to a website, found a big image on the homepage and been confused about what the website actually was? If you have, you’re not alone.

Images are wonderful marketing tools, but the wrong image and the wrong use of an image can lead to confusion. And when you have confusion you’re going to miss out on sales.

When using photos, focus on the main message you’re trying to communicate to your audience. Make sure the image communicates that message. The saying goes that a photo is worth a thousand words. But if those words aren’t what you want to say then you’re confusing your potential customer.

Go with an image you feel is a good fit, but ask a few people for their thoughts when you use it on your homepage and marketing campaigns. Ask if they can tell what you do when they first see the campaign.

3. Call-To-Action: Too Many, None, Etc.

The action you want your customers to take is obviously important, but there are a few traps with calls-to-action.

For one, we often want to make sure we give customers all the options they might want to take. When there are too many calls-to-action you’re going to confuse your customer because they won’t know what you want them to do.

Ads typically do a good job with actions because they usually have only one. However, these action needs to use the right language while making the person feel like it’s safe to click on the action.

Curiosity works well. You can build curiosity by giving your customers a little bit of information and then asking them to click to find out the rest of the story.

Also focus on what your customer wants. We’re all human and we all focus on what’s best for us. In marketing, however, you have to think about what your customer wants instead of what you want. The goal is to make sure those two things align.

The design agency example can work well here. The heading might say, “Website & App Design”. The action would say, “See successful website & app projects”.

4. Niche: Too Broad

Finally, you might be focusing too broadly on your audience. If your potential customer doesn’t know that your campaign is speaking to them they’re not going to take action.

Speak to your customer in your campaigns. Talk about the things that affect them. Use their language. This all helps to make your campaigns more focused and more appealing to your niche audience.


Confusion is the number one marketing campaign killer. If you’re struggling with your campaigns, including your homepage, focus on the items above. Go through the processes outlined here and you’ll find that your campaigns are more focused and ready to convert your target audience into new customers.

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