Content Marketing
3 min

Failing Forward: Opening Up About Failure

Elizabeth McCumber

Failing In 2019

By now, it’s very easy to find failure all around us, from video fails to books on how to fail better, harder, and even more. If you aren’t failing, you must not be trying.

But once you fail, what next?

Acknowledge & Move On

This is the hard part—you have to acknowledge the failure. Without recognizing it and sharing results within your team, you can’t learn from it.

Recently, our team produced a piece of content that we (okay, I personally) loved. It was well thought-out and informative with a level of detail that could help a reader implement improvements fairly quickly.

Guess what.

I think you know where this is going…

It didn’t do so hot. The high level of detail that I loved probably scared some readers away. The niche focus alienated many who didn’t relate to or care about that area of marketing.

I still believe in its value as a piece of content, but as a performance-driver for us, it didn’t do much.

And it wasn’t enough to know that; I needed to acknowledge it. So in our next content meeting, we talked about it. I had to recognize it underperformed and look at the reasons why.

Now, a blog like this is definitely overkill, but I do feel strongly that without acknowledgment failure you lose part of the learning process.

If I hadn’t shared my failure, someone on our team may have assumed this new piece performed just as well as the next. The act of trying something new has benefits, but at Wpromote we always want to know what works and what doesn’t. So we constantly come back to the data and let it decide.

Plus, I have to proactively work on being more comfortable with failure, and doing that means talking about tests that didn’t go as well as hoped. While it isn’t fun, it’s important for me personally and (I hope) for others.

Failing Forward

Why fixate on failure? At Wpromote, we care about failure because we continually push ourselves and our clients to break convention and try innovative solutions. That means we have to be comfortable with failing.

The nature of the A/B test requires a winner. Whether it’s an email subject line or paid search ad copy, one test option was better. You actually hope the new solution is the winner, because if not, it feels like the test was for nothing.

But it’s always valuable—as long as you learn something and actively refine within your testing plan.

Speaking of, if you need some help with that, let us know.

So next time you fail, I have to ask you to share it. You might be surprised what all you, and your team, can learn from it.

Content Marketing


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