How We Screwed Up a Brilliant Marketing Campaign

5 minute read

Upland Admin

It was supposed to be our major traffic driver of the quarter. An Internet viral sensation.

But it didn’t quite work out that way. This is the story of how we—the marketing team at Kapost—bombed one of our most brilliant, should-have-been-awesome marketing campaigns.

The Concept

The idea emerged earlier this year: A Star Wars vs. Star Trek-themed marketing campaign. We’d ask marketers, “Is your content more Star Wars or is it more like Star Trek?”

Both Trekkies and Star Wars fans are well-known, vocal, and dedicated to their causes on the interwebs. Members of our own team have loyal ties to one or the other. (Yeah, we know. We’re geeks.)

Star Wars movies have grossed more than $4.5B over 37 years, and inspired a number of events, conferences, movies, toys, books…you name it. And the 12 Star Trek movies have drawn $1.9B worldwide, and their fans go all out when it comes to their love for the series and the movies.

The two also have their fair share of competitiveness.

“How could combining these two forces be anything but a mind-blowing sensation? Well, that was the concept.”

So how could combining these two forces—along with an interactive content experience, clever text that’ll resonate with both fans, and beautiful design—be anything but a mind-blowing sensation?

Well, that was the concept.

The Components

Here are the assets we created as part of the marketing campaign:

Where Does Your Content Lie on the Starwars vs. Star trek Spectrum?

—This is one of the most interesting, time-intensive, and beautifully executed pieces of content we’ve created. It took incredible dev and design skills, as well as people who could write and edit content who understand Star Trek, Star Wars, and content marketing. Basically, we were kind of banking on it’s brilliance to run the campaign. I mean, look at this thing?

how we screwed up quiz

Star Wars vs. Star Trek Infographic—The infographic breaks down the metaphor: what makes content more Star Wars and what makes it more Star Trek?

2 blog posts with the above assets embedded—Linked above, these two blog posts introduced the infographic and quiz, with a call to action at the bottom of each post driving to the gated asset and landing page below.

A landing page to download Content: The Force That Moves the Buyer Down the FunnelWe thought the Star Wars/Star Trek theme was well-aligned with an eBook we had written that’s actually an e-comic book. The comic book style, we thought, would appeal nicely to the audience of Trekkie and Star Wars marketers.

A robust social media campaign—on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google+, our expert community manager and entire Kapost team shared the assets with their networks.

The Strategy

We launched the interactive quiz, the cornerstone of our strategy, on May 2—the Friday before “May The 4th Be With You,” a day celebrating all things Star Wars. We launched the infographic on the actual day, May 4. As soon as these two assets went live, we shared it with influencers, our team, and across all of our social channels.

The Results…or Lack Thereof

Within the first 30 days of the campaign launch, the Star Wars vs. Star Trek assets received 59% fewer unique visitor’s compared to other Kapost campaign launches. 

But hey, if it’s the right traffic, with the right leads, that’s what really matters. Don’t you agree?

But when we looked into that, the campaign only drove 15 leads within the first 30 days of launch, when our other campaigns typically do a couple hundred—at least. And none of them have moved past the “lead” stage to an opportunity or closed-won sale.

So…What Went Wrong?

Great question! Now, let’s dig into the problem.

1. Didn’t Tap Our Audience on Topic

How @kapost Screwed Up a Brilliant Marketing Campaign

We were psyched on this campaign internally. Like super psyched. And we all psyched one another up even more. But, unfortunately, we made the content and this campaign more for ourselves then we did for our audience. And it didn’t click the way we needed it to in order to drive results. Had we tapped our audience and tested the topic, we might have found out that it wouldn’t work before we took the time and resources to create the full-blown campaign.

2. Driving to an Irrelevant Content Asset

The e-comic book, while entertaining, wasn’t directly related to the campaign. We needed an asset, so we chose one that we thought made sense, instead of building something that truly aligned and added value to our users.

3. Truncated Distribution

Unlike other campaigns, we didn’t reach out to our networks to guest blog and further promote the assets we worked so hard to produce. The truth of the matter is, even if you create the most brilliant and awe-inspiring assets, your distribution strategy and getting it in front of a wider audience is where your true success lies.

4. No Email Campaign

One thing we’ve learned by digging into the successes of our campaign is the power of our database and delivering content to them through email. Because we didn’t have a dedicated content asset, nor a good way to segment users without blindly guessing who would be most likely to like Star Wars or Star Trek, we didn’t utilize marketing automation to drive more traffic and move more leads down the funnel.

So those are four things that—if we were to re-run this campaign–we would do differently. And, sometimes, the best lessons are the ones you learn the hard way. Because these are the ones that stick. The ones that grow your career as well as your marketing strategy.

But then again, if we can share them with you so you don’t make the same mistakes…well, we feel pretty good about that, too.

Learn from Our Mistakes

Find out what we should have done in this comprehensive ebook.

Reliable products. Real results.

Every day, thousands of companies rely on Upland to get their jobs done simply and effectively. See how brands are putting Upland to work.

View Success Stories