Dear marketers—it’s okay not to know the answer sometimes!
We believe that marketers need to hear that it’s totally fine for them not to have a recipe for guaranteed success when launching a marketing campaign.
Experimentation is a natural part of any marketing program. On the early growth of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg once famously said, “Move fast and break things. Unless you are breaking stuff, you are not moving fast enough.”
Move so fast that you break stuff is the kind of encouragement we want to share with you as you conceptualise and execute your next campaign. Give yourself some freedom to experiment, learn and improve on your creative ideas, strategies and tactics.
Finding a worthy solution for your audience means you’d have to iterate a number of times until you get it right.
In this article, we discuss the idea that marketers have to treat content like any entrepreneurial concept and take it to the market for testing. We’d also give you a handy guide on the best way to do it and what to measure.
The importance of iterating faster
High tempo testing is the idea that rapid testing and experimentation is the key to explosive growth. Sean Ellis, co-author of the book Hacking Growth, which first powerfully championed rapid testing, has this to say, “The more tests you run, the more you learn about how to grow your business. So, it’s only natural to want to run as many tests per period of time as possible”.
Rapid testing makes a lot of sense, but it is not always done as much as it should be. One study showed that many companies run fewer than 5 tests a month. 43% of surveyed companies only ran 1-2 tests per month. The real number should be much higher than that.
Between 2010 and 2012, Twitter exploded their monthly active users from under 50,000 to 200,000. This was achieved by scaling up their testing from less than one per week to 10 tests a week. At one point, Airbnb was using 700 marketing experiments per week to supersize their growth.
In a study from HubSpot, one marketer managed to double the amount of monthly leads from the blog by optimizing old posts. They found this out through testing a new approach with old content. Without experimentation, it wouldn’t have happened.
What do we mean by testing? It could be anything—re-publishing old content in a different way, trying A/B splits of the same page for performance, changing the layout, copy or design of a landing page to gain more conversions.
A how-to guide to setting up content experiments
By applying science to the art of marketing, you’d know that in order to make your wildly creative content effective, you need to apply a cold-eyed approach. Yes, science and marketing can co-exist! Here are some ways you can set up content experiments:
1: Figure out what you are trying to achieve
What are you hoping to learn? Take some time to understand the objective of your experiment. Without this step, you won’t be able to properly measure if it was successful.
2: Propose a Hypothesis
It sounds a bit like you’re in a science lab but there is a good reason to do this step. When conducting a marketing experiment, you’d want to have an idea of what will happen after a certain action. This is the step where you test if you can control the outcomes by doing what you think will work.
3: Use a control test
You can design different variations of a test to see what works. Be sure to keep a control test, which is an element of your campaign that does not change. Then you can use a variation to see which one works best.
Here is an example—create a primary landing page (this is your control test), then create a few different versions and try each one for a period of time to see what works best in generating your leads.
4: Analyse your results
Make sure you run the test long enough to have meaningful data. Remembering your objective, try to understand if you achieved what you set out to do. If your objective was to get higher engagement on a new marketing email, did you get the conversion rates you thought you could?
Where platform analytics come in
Remember that your metrics need to be based on what’s important to you and your company leaders. In another blog post we’ve mentioned 5 metrics we think your CEO could find useful. We’d give you a refresher below.
Remember to steer away from vanity metrics. Popular vanity metrics include statistics like numbers of social media followers, page views, and subscribers. They look great on paper, but they don’t move the needle in terms of your revenue goals. They are almost always impressive and positive numbers, but they offer no direction for future marketing decisions.
What to measure
- Conversation rates
Conversion rates are the percentage of visitors to a website that is converted, meaning that they act out what you want them to do. This conversion behaviour could be anything, such as converting customers to buy a product, sign up for a membership, or subscribe to a mailing list.
- Customer acquisition cost (CAC)
Customer acquisition cost, in short, is your best idea of the total cost of acquiring a new customer. This is a crucial metric to master because it helps you to understand the level of resources that you’d need to keep your company attracting new customers to continue its growth.
- Cost per lead (CPL) by source
A lead is a potential customer that has arrived through one of your marketing channels. You now know how to contact them by phone or email.
Qualified leads are the best leads because the individual has in some way expressed a requirement for your services.
Marketing attribution is the process of determining which marketing tactics had the greatest impact on sales or conversions. In our digital age, attribution becomes very difficult to measure because of the overabundance of information and customer contact points.
Marketers need to become familiar with advanced marketing attribution information that aggregates consumer data from different channels.
How to measure
In terms of reporting and analytics of high tempo testing, you could use any of the platforms we have mentioned in earlier analytics tools blog posts. An important part of failing and retrying rapidly is the process of documenting everything. With each experiment, you’d be creating vital institutional knowledge and you will need it as you iterate more and more.
High tempo testing is very much like creating a customer journey that has many twists and turns. For measuring and storing this information, you’d need a strong and diversified CRM tool. You could use Salesforce or Hubspot CRM. These class-leading tools allow you to make the most of every customer interaction by creating personalised, cross-channel customer journeys.
This means that you can measure all your desired metrics as you track content and responses across email, mobile, social, web, and more.
In the area of Media Monitoring and Listening, Meltwater and Brandwatch both offer some of the world’s largest source databases, ensuring you will never miss a mention.
When you need to present your findings to senior leadership in the form of Data-Visualisation, you could use Microsoft Power BI or Tableau. These are two strong market players whose tools can show meaningful insights drawn from hundreds of data visualisations.
Some marketing teams treat their content strategy as a template which remains stagnant and does not change. It has certainly worked in the past, as some marketers have been able to build a solid foundation.
But this stagnant approach is dated and will only take you so far in today’s fiercely competitive landscape where brands fight for every inch. This is why it’s so much better to make your marketing campaigns high tempo never-ending journeys of discovery that steadily increase your ROI.