In Praise Of: 80% Done

In modern digital marketing, almost done and live is better than perfect and stuck on a hard drive.


Have you ever built or remodeled your own home? Like with your own two hands? Sure, when you set out on the massive undertaking, you envision a day when you waltz into your home in its most polished state: elegant, clean, done. In reality though, you’re cramming your stuff in while there’s still construction dust on the floor. You live with a few missing trim boards or incomplete plumbing in the basement bathroom if it means getting back into your own home sooner. And let’s be real, even when the thing is totally done, you’re still gonna have a long list of projects.

Digital marketing is no different. Executing digital campaigns is like living with a little construction dust. You make due with the parts of the campaign that are working, and you find the flexibility to pound the last few nails while you’re in the thick of it.

At Craft 52, we’ve developed quite a few little sayings about our work. “Keep it simple. Do good work,” is number one. But “80% done and live is better than 100% done and locked on a hard drive,” is definitely in a close second.

Executing digital campaigns is like living with a little construction dust. You make due with the parts of the campaign that are working, and you find the flexibility to pound the last few nails while you’re in the thick of it.

Why is that you ask? It reflects a super common problem we come across in working with our partners. Ideas, especially creative ones, languish in conceptual and status meetings with the albatross of perfection.

Real digital marketing doesn’t start until something is live, and you start getting feedback. Once the data starts flowing, the job begins. What dials do you need to turn to make your campaign succeed? It’s impossible to know if an idea is stuck in planning or perfection purgatory.

I think it’s a common misconception that there are digital experts out there that know, with 100% certainty, what works. Brands think that if they find these people, they’ll find success. Digital is one endless experiment. The best people are the ones who build experiments that conserve resources and can scale once there are some positive results. Anyone that says “I have a idea that works 100% of the time,” is full of shit. The person you want is the person that says “I can make something happen for 80% of the expected cost that, with 100% certainty, will teach us something financially or technologically valuable.”  

Like we said, 80% done and live is better than 100% done stuck on a hard drive.

Things that are better when 80% done.

  1. Blog Posts.

    SEO continues to get more sophisticated as algorithms get better and better at identifying quality content. These algorithms can now detect if content becomes out of date and less relevant. This could be the result of a reference to a now non-existent company or technology that needs updating. Or it could be caused by better, more recent and relevant content posted by the competition. It’s enough to make new content to boost SEO, you have to consistently update and amend your old stuff. Follow the 80% rule. Take time to make quality content, but don’t let the quest for perfection get in the way of posting. You should be revisiting and updating the post in 4-12 weeks anyway. Editing to perfection after some time to reflect is a whole lot easier than doing it on the first pass.

  2. Organic Social Strategy.

    This is a big one for us, especially as an agency. It’s pretty common for clients to need strategic input and a deck that outlines how we’re going to approach organic social. That makes sense for big brands with huge followings. But for smaller guys, that planning time is almost always wasted when the content well dries up, a new administration steps in, or the algorithm changes. A better approach is to set some loose guardrails and just jump right in using the content you have to the best of your ability, see what sticks with your audience, and evolve from there. If you don’t have the content or bandwidth to support a social channel, then by all means, kill it until you do.

  3. Content Productions.

    The 80% rule of content productions is more about budget than anything. Don’t spend 100% of your budget on a final deliverable. Spend 80% then save the final 20% for additional post production that will help repurpose the content into new assets for new channels or new campaigns. When you fund a big video project for example, a lot of footage just gets left on a hard drive. It’s a lot cheaper to re-edit than it is to reshoot. Why not use that footage for a new instagram stories series, a new piece of funnel content, or a brand video down the road. Content has a much longer shelf life than people realize. So often people blow all the resources upfront. When there isn’t money or bandwidth to extend the life of a project, plenty of good and more affordable content just gets put out to pasture.

Editor’s Note: We want this blog to be completely transparent about Craft 52 and our thoughts on digital marketing. It’s gonna be written off the cuff, about stuff we find interesting, published irregularly. But if this stuff is interesting to you, by all means, we encourage you to subscribe. We’ll email tasty, and probably sometimes tasteless, nuggets about digital marketing, ecommerce, code, marketing software and the like anytime we spit them out of our brains. It’ll be fun, we promise.

Kevin Luby