Affiliate Summit wrapped up 3 weeks ago, but I am only catching up now

The show went fantastic and my presentation marked a public preview of our marketing service methodology (to be unveiled later this year). Unfortunately, the “technical difficulties” on the way home derailed and delayed the follow through. But there is a great teachable moment in how the story of my destroyed car engine can help marketers understand the problems they might be ignoring.

First, the Good News

My talk at the Affiliate Summit received an overwhelmingly enthusiastic response. The audience was constantly snapping pictures of the slides, even though they are posted publicly and now shared here. Several people told me that “a lightbulb went on” about how marketing process should be run in the “brave new world”, enabled by data & audience capabilities of Facebook and similar platform.

Customer Journeys are still a niche topic, not nearly as well understood and popular as related Funnels. But I could see in the audience reaction and in the subsequent conversations how we are making progress in explaining their utility. We are in the very beginning of creating contents and visualizations to educate more people on how exactly to use them. These are all key points in our Top 10 Goals for 2018.

Most rewarding of all, in the post-session Q&A we applied the methodology to several completely unrelated businesses to quickly identify the strategies & opportunities for driving results. Neither of those businesses would neatly fit into any of the cookie-cutter templates, which highlighted the power of the process.

Don’t settle for just “ripping” someone’s funnels and business models – build your competitive advantage on your own unique differentiators and data assets!

Next, What Happened to the Car

I love road trips for their freedom and flexibility and typically take opportunities to come to Las Vegas with my own car. This has worked great for years with no real problems. Until this time.

The problems weren’t entirely unexpected. I had to recently replace several parts in the cooling system and thought everything was under control at last. Even checked and filled up the coolant right before the trip. And watched the dashboard warning lights like a hawk all the time.

Unfortunately the warning systems were off and the dashboard lights lied – until the very last moment. About two hours away from home, the engine, the battery and the oil warnings all turned on and the car lost acceleration. I was able to park it safely, but the engine was dead as a dodo – in the middle of nowhere.

This started the chain of events including a long distance tow, diagnostics at a mechanic shop, finding that the engine ran out of oil & coolant without the expected warning, figuring out if insurance would pay for engine replacement, decision to give up on this car, shopping for a replacement, and finally getting rid of the junker, that got towed and impounded by the city while waiting for disposal. Last but not least – catching a particularly nasty cold/flu from freezing in a dead car waiting for a tow truck.

Now you can see what kept me from following up with everyone right away 🙂

Is Your Marketing Engine Fooling You About Its Health?

Finally, The Lesson for Marketers

When things go wrong – ask what you should have done differently!

While mourning my dead car I realized that the root problem is no different than the mistake that countless marketers are making. Are you among them too?

Don’t take your reports and dashboards at face value! Trust but verify! Can you explain how every relevant metric is calculated? Do you know how the underlying data is defined and collected? What about the environment factors that may affect measurement and reporting? How about understanding the attribution windows?

If you answer “NO” to any of those questions you should use extreme caution interpreting any numbers you see. Relying on wrong indicators can easily wreck your marketing engine!

Typical problems arise from broken tracking implementationsFacebook Pixel, App Events, Offline Event Sets and any 3rd party systems could all be set up wrong, feeding you garbage data.

Here are just a few examples I have recently run into myself:

  • Buggy Shopify custom checkout script blowing up the Order Status page and preventing Purchase pixel from being fired at all
  • Lead gen Thank You pages firing the Lead pixel on page load rather than form submission – causing event duplication & inflating the numbers
  • Transaction import into Offline Event Set failing to de-dupe transaction IDs, meaning accidental duplicate uploads inflate the reports
  • Mixing different & unrelated traffic sources under the same event type (e.g. ViewContent) without tagging them with custom parameters
  • Lack of basic engineering standards, e.g. no version control, no auditable code repositories, no staging/test systems – constantly breaking production sites
  • Not requiring developers to document the conditions for firing every custom pixel event and not enforcing outside peer review of their code
  • Not implementing Advanced Pixel Matching, decreasing the quality of reports & audiences for the traffic coming from non-Facebook sources
  • .. the list goes on

If your development team is not skilled in marketing tracking & analytics (and if they cannot answer the questions above, they probably aren’t), consider if you should have someone oversee and guide them. Our service methodology is built upon defining, documenting and implementing tracking for the entire Customer Journey. We will be emphasizing the Technical QA service unit in the upcoming iterations.

Performance marketing requires solid data foundation. Help is just a few clicks away when you need it.

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Dmitriy Kruglyak

President at TargetChoice LLC
Data Geek. Process Fanatic. Growth Hacker

Making Advertising Profitable for Businesses

Building Marketing Tech since 1998
Dmitriy Kruglyak
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  1. Jason Shouldice

    Great post Dmitriy.

    Some good takeaways, my biggest one is just to let you handle my advertising. I don’t have the technical skill you do, nor do I acquire to do it.

    I would rather let someone who has a truly advanced and revolutionary approach to the marketing ecosphere handle my marketing for me while I can focus on other things.

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