8 Marketing Tactics to Ditch in 2018

At Persado, we pride ourselves in generating engaging paid media ads and landing pages for our customers. Our Marketing Language Cloud also has a knack for keeping brands’ email messages from going into the trash unopened. But in some cases, sticking things in the trash is a good thing, like trite and ineffective marketing tactics that sound desperate (ACT NOW!!!) or lack emotion and personalization. Consider these marketing tactics so 2017.

Not Using Data to Drive Decisions

Proctor & Gamble sent shockwaves through the industry in August when it announced it would cut digital ad spending by $140 million. AdAge reported that the company examined its digital contracts and wasn’t happy with the lack of transparency, viewable benchmarks and data. It sent a message to publishers and ad agencies: Show us what you’re doing, how you’re doing it and whether we’re getting the results we’re looking for when we gave you a healthy ad budget. This means using numbers — not a set-in-stone calendar — to drive decisions. There’s no need to change creative on an ad every day or on the same day once a month. Change it when you see decay and need to find new ways to talk to an audience. Promoting a deal on a product that is not proven to drive response just because a schedule says so may not be nearly as effective as showcasing a popular item at full price. Persado’s data-driven platform shows brands what is getting the best response and has readily available insights to back it up.   

Fully Relying on “Black Box” Optimizers for Insights

Tools such as Facebook Optimization Engine and Dynamic Creative Optimization don’t paint the whole picture of performance of creative elements as the inventory shifts to a better performing ad without marketers understanding why. In other words, say a brand has two ads, one blue and one green, with two different headlines. As blue outperforms green, blue gets more impressions and green gets less. But there are no insights shared as to why blue is outperforming green. Companies relying on this to optimize creative and interpret results aren’t going to get the full story. “The tools are optimizing bids and budget allocation, and are not well suited for analyzing creative components and results,” said Solutions Consultant for Global Paid Media Kirill Gil. Persado’s experimental design compares all ad elements in an apples to apples way to ensure that the components that are driving results are being identified and promoted. Each part of an ad has an equal chance to be seen and acted on.

Using Urgency in Paid Media to Promote Everything from $10 Socks to $30,000 diamond Rings

Persado has spoken at great lengths about the ineffectiveness of urgency in email campaigns, but the drop off is even worse in paid media.  Think twice before using “HURRY UP: THESE DIAMONDS ARE SELLING FAST!” and “Cold Feet? Buy these socks ASAP!” Bottom line: People don’t want to be told to buy on a deadline — even if the creative is good and your text is in all caps. If you must try urgency, be sure to test other emotions as well.

Challenging Your Email List

People have enough challenges in their lives. Turns out, they’re not too keen on having email marketers add to the pile. Email subject lines using the challenge emotion, which dares or asks questions of customers in order to provoke an action, tended to fall flat in ecommerce and fashion & apparel industries in 2017. Persado tested 76 unique phrases in the channel, including “Are you ready?,” “What are you waiting for?,” and “Feeling lucky?” “Each ended up in the bottom half of performance of the challenge category,” said Kat Dessenon, Persado’s Head of Campaign Management. “Additionally, even though we tried 25 different ways of expressing it, consumers don’t like being asked if they are ‘ready’ or ‘prepared’ or told to ‘get ready,’” she said. Values like these lost to other concepts, including achievement.

Using Sub-Par Symbols

While Persado is most well-known for classifying emotions, we also categorize emojis. And those little symbols can work wonders in email subject lines, but Dessenon advised marketers to stop the following:

Sending gifts: 🎁
Giving me the thumbs up 👍
Pointing at me –>

A gift, classified as a pictogram emoji because it conveys meaning by directly resembling what it signifies, may seem appropriate for holidays and birthday, but Dessenon noted it’s one of the worst performing symbols. Despite their prevalence in your inbox, pictograms were the bottom-ranked symbol category in 2017.
Ironically, one of the worst-performing ideograms (symbolic signs and gestures that abstractly denote a concept or idea) is the thumbs up sign. “Even though it has a semantic meaning of ‘good job’ or ‘yes,’ consumers have not responded well to it,” Dessenon said.

Though arrows are not at the very bottom of the barrel, they’re not too effective. “While not the very worst-performing, very few arrow symbols do well,” Dessenon said.


Marketing teams have a habit of guessing what’s going to work in an A/B test but never learn from historical data. “It’s time to stop guessing and start bringing data to your creative process,” said Customer Success Manager Corinne Hallander, who helps clients get the most of of the social and tools. Step one: Take a look at subject lines. What does your brand say frequently? What are the average open rates of different phrases? Instead of tasking some poor intern or junior employee with going on a data dive, Persado Pro Email Starter can help brands gain this analysis easily. Intrigued? You can try Pro Email Starter through a free trial here.


Marketers often make biased assumptions on copywriting best practices and brand voice. But ultimately, brand voice should be a conversation, not an assumption. “I see too many marketers make the same mistake of assuming their audience likes to be spoken to a certain way without actually using data to listen to their preferences,” Hallander said. “Is that how you approach every-day conversations with everyone? Probably not.” The most successful communicators are also good listeners. The same can be said for marketers. “Data should be the eyes and ears of your marketing program,” Hallander advised. “Be open to trying new ways of communicating about your emails, and use data to let you know what is and isn’t working.”   

Trying to Save Your Audience

Promoting savings is a popular email marketing tactic. But Persado has found that “save” tends to be a bad word. “Nearly any other way of phrasing getting an item for less works better than ‘saving,’” Dessenon said. Try discount, deal, the specific percentage or amount off or being vague about the email contents instead.

Ditching these marketing tactics will help brands have a happy, healthy New Year. Make it happier and healthier by getting a complimentary analysis of how your marketing currently takes advantage of emotions and compares to your industry peers.