Why Students Fail Marketing Exams

Marketing Tutor

I’ve been giving one to one marketing tutor lessons for quite some time now. Students approach me from various backgrounds with intent to tackle different marketing exams, whether undergraduate, Masters courses, professional CAM or CIM courses. There is really no size fits all in teaching and every student had individual needs.

However, over the time I was giving support to students I noticed a clear patterns. I decided to sum the three most common ones up in a list and if somehow I can support a studying person along the way giving advice on how to study, and ultimately successfully passing the exam, I would have reached my goal.

Here is consolidated list of common obstacles students face when tackling written assignments:

Time management

Underestimating the scope of the project is by far number one factor for students failing the exams. The amount of times we’ve been approached with the question how much it would cost to write the assignment on behalf of the student, and this around 2-3 weeks before the submission deadline.

Watch a short video in tackling the CAM assignment which sums up common painpoints students have

Reading the question

It can be difficult to tell a student that the in-depth answer written supported by diagrams and images, backed up with external sources misses completely the point. Too often, students fail to understand the question correctly and get carried away completely ignoring the word count, which brings me to my next point.

Word count

When first approaching an assignment, reading through the marking criteria is vital. It’ll already provide clear indications where the hidden marks are. But in relation to the word count, it is more obvious. If a question only counts 5 marks towards the total of 100, it’s probably not necessary to write 2000 words for it, if the word limit is only 5000. A good first approach is to count down the amount of words aligned to the points given per individual question. That should give you a clear indication how long your paragraphs should be.

Stuck with your assessment? Get in touch and arrange a test tutor lesson.


How to leverage the full potential of marketing automation in the customer purchasing journey

marketing automationMarketo (2015) state that “engagement is the new competitive advantage” and according to McKinsey (2009) consumers nowadays seek a two-way communication with multiple touchpoints evaluating an increased number of competitors before purchase. To address this change in the purchasing decision, many businesses introduced marketing automation with aim to increase engagement with consumers.

According to Google Trends (2015) marketing automation has had rapid growth in the last couple of years with IDC (2015) predicting that marketing technology spending will grow by 12.4% by 2018.

However, apart from successful testimonials and case studies from platform providers, my own findings so far are far from positive. As a result of this, I must assume that, despite the fact that marketing automation software is now commercially available, even from SMEs, there are great obstacles in implementation. Econsultancy (2015) found out that 88% of small and medium businesses understand the benefits of automation, so why is it that businesses struggle with getting the most out of the software platform?

Limitations in implementing marketing automation

I believe that marketing automation is not a software tool but a catalyst of change which requires businesses to adapt its core marketing and sales processes. Only then, a business can fully embrace the change in the customer decision journey and adapt its marketing activities accordingly.

consumer purchasing behaviour

In order to visually display the connections of a consumer with the brand on the new modern identified consumer journey by McKinsey (2009), the touchpoints in the travel industry, identified by Think with Google (2015) are overlaid in the below graphic which display scope for marketing automation in the evaluation phase. The touchpoints are connected with each other and managed through a holistic marketing automation platform which truly integrates all channels, gathers data and profiles consumers using a linked CRM software.

Skills of the modern marketer

The above graphic not only displays how the two variables of marketing automation and customer decision journey interact but it actually revelas the knowledge modern marketers require to successfully execute marketing activities with support of automation.

New attribution model

Last-click attribution still seems one of the most popular attribution models, due to its simplicity. The main drawback of last-click is that it furthers channel rivalry – i.e. SEO is in tough competition for the clicks with the PPC team. Vincent (2015) states that last-touch attribution has always been industry standard and nowadays, marketers move to more sophisticated attribution models in order to allocate value to marketing activities which take place further up in the funnel. However, Digital Cream (2015) argue that marketers with advanced models are scarce and stories of successful marketing automation are rare.

Stakeholder management

Marketing automation nurtures leads and increases engagement of consumers who are not ready to buy. A new challenge of the marketer is to establish this relationship with the sales team and discuss that automation is not deviating lead income from sales to marketing but support the overall sales support. In my previous roles, I experienced the at times disconnection between sales and marketing. Breaking down silos not only between sales but also between departments is probably one of the key tasks for a marketer wanting to implement change in the business.

Channel insight across the entire digital marketing mix

Traditionally, many businesses conduct marketing activities right at the top and bottom of the funnel. Budget is allocated for brand awareness e.g. display campaigns or offline and right at the end of the purchasing funnel – the closure. Automation requires the marketer to embrace all opportunities across channel and devices. Customers don’t care about channels but conversations! Therefore, integrating the individual channels to one holistic marketing mix is another big challenge for a marketer – especially dealing with long-established channel managers.


The list could go on and on, besides the technical obstacles which I haven’t touched upon in this article, the best practise to start with automated processes is to add value to the business with activities which were not expected. This could be a small automated email campaign to existing customers with aim to revive and bring them back to the site. Or automated customer notifications (trigger emails) for confirmations or wrongly-filled in forms.