Post-Mortem: Why We Test

You have reached the end of the Internet, otherwise known as article 14 of this 14 part series. Appropriately, it seemed like a good time to raise the subject of performing post-mortem analysis on your campaigns. Presumably to get to this point you started with a goal, picked a buyer persona to target, decided on an influencer type to match your preferred social networkidentified the influencer from that filtering, pitched that influencer, maybe negotiated a bit, and now you need to ask yourself the big question: how did it go?

What is a Post-Mortem?

The medical definition of a post-mortem is the autopsy used to determine a cause of death. The marketing world’s use of the phrase isn’t quite as morbid; it is actually closer to military after action reports, which are a retrospective analysis on the goal, the process taken, and the conclusion. The goal, in essence, is to determine why goals were or were not met.

How to Perform a Successful Post-Mortem?

The following process can, and should be, performed after every marketing campaign. Testing and evaluating those tests are the best way to move from a novice to an intermediate and ultimately to an advanced practitioner. In some ways, this could be the first post of this series because you must have an eye to the conclusion of a campaign at its onset.

Take notes — if you don’t have notes on the overall process, you’ll be going by memory and may miss some critical missteps like when IT took 5 days to setup a retargeting pixel and then finance extended your approval period to pay an influencer $50 in addition to offering product, which resulted in the influencer assuming you weren’t serious. It isn’t about note taking for assigning blame, you need to have objective data points to discuss.

Team meeting — include all the stakeholder on your campaign, not just marketing; were there elements that involved the IT department or dev ops for deploying unique coupons and setting retargeting pixels? If someone was involved, include them, sending an email outline to the types of questions that need to be covered in order to focus on continual improvement of the entire campaign process.

Discuss the data — share the data on what was spent, internal labor used, and the goal completion, plus any unexpected benefits. Keep emotions out of this process and do not assign blame; the important matter is to show timelines for the campaign, resources used, and the results. It isn’t enough to focus just on revenue and expenses, traffic, shares, or whatever your goal metric was. There could be other questions that arise from the data that merit discussion:

  1. If your revenue goal was achieved but all the revenue came from existing customers, this might indicate that the influencer campaign was successful in engaging your base, but not so much for extending your audience reach.
  2. If revenue goal was overachieved, but returns also exceed expectations, this might indicate customers responding to the psychological triggers, but not being the right buyers.
  3. If traffic was fantastic, but bounce rate was also very high, then the influencer may have been good at engaging her audience, but that audience wasn’t a good fit — or the audience didn’t perceive your product offering as being of sufficient value.
  4. Did online sales mostly stay within expected averages, but phone or in-store traffic spiked? Pay attention to the indirect methods by which goals might be reached, in those unexpected spillovers.
  5. How does the data compare with other industry campaigns you have data on?

Listen to other learnings — if other teams are undertaking their own form of post-mortem reporting, aggregate those reports and draw from them to find parallels to your campaign. This is an opportunity to knowledge share and use that to identify organizational problems affecting more than just your campaign; addressing those problems will help all teams.

Stick to your agenda — it is vital that your agenda questions are adhered to and not go off-track; this isn’t the time to vent, turn into a HR meeting about why Jim in engineering doesn’t pull his weight… Dammit Jim.

Here’s some sample agenda questions to cover:

Communication questions:

  1. Were team members accessible when needed to assist?
  2. Was there any confusion or difficulty on building team consensus?
  3. Was the goal set understood by everyone on the team?
  4. How much time was spent on meetings? Were they necessary?
  5. Was individual expertise respected or was it drowned out by preconceived notions?
  6. Were stakeholders made aware of progress, or lack thereof, throughout the campaign?

Process questions:

  1. Why was the deadline date what it was?
  2. Was there clear prioritization of tasks?
  3. Was there appropriate coordination of those tasks ensure prioritization was preserved?
  4. Were the task timeline estimates accurate?
  5. What roadblocks existed that were not identified prior to kickoff?

Role questions:

  1. Were the team roles clear as a function of the task prioritization above?
  2. Was it necessary to involve external parties as key role players? [since this is on influencer marketing, that would be a yes — so the real question becomes how those external parties worked in concert with the team]
  3. Who had the decision-making authority for the project?
  4. Was the decision-maker responsible for ensuring all tasks were appropriately assigned?

Future questions (i.e. why we’re bothering to go through this sometimes painful process):

  1. Should any of the roles change for future iterations based on the outcome?
  2. Should the existing process be modified for a faster turnaround, a lowered expense, or a greater revenue achievement?
  3. Does management need to play a different role in overseeing the project to keep peer-level team members focused?
  4. Should any additional process items be added for amplification purposes?

Remember, the post-mortem won’t work if it isn’t taken seriously and the agenda followed — even if you manage to make seemingly minor process improvements, the outsized outcome as you scale on influencer marketing could be enormous. If you manage to learn from both your failures and successes, you’ll be that much better on your next campaign. If you haven’t started a campaign yet, there’s no better time than now.

Joe Sinkwitz

Joe, CEO and Co-Founder of Intellifluence, has close to 20 years of experience in SEO, leading several successful marketing companies and providing expert consultation. He is the author of The Ultimate Guide to Using Influencer Marketing.