Brevard Nelson, CEO of Caribbean Ideas Synapse
Apply more science to your Marketing to Improve your Results.
I have said it many times to our clients and shared in our blogs that the modern marketer needs to be part Einstein, part Picasso and in today’s world we need to apply more scientific rigour to our campaigns and executions to measure results and document return on investment. No matter the kind of business you run, marketing is its lifeblood. It involves everything that your business does to let a potential customer hear about and interact with your business.
Whether it’s paid ads, social media, content creation, or blogging, these strategies are meant to create awareness of your business and attract potential buyers. They fill up the top of your sales funnel with leads that can be nurtured through their buyer’s journey.
However, not all marketing strategies are equal. Depending on your business, some may do exceedingly well, while others may not be so successful. So how do you assess whether your marketing strategy is yielding results? And how do you maximise those results?
By applying scientific rigour through The Scientific Method.
What Is The Scientific Method In Relation To Marketing?
The scientific method is what researchers and scientists use to identify and solve some of science’s great mysteries through experimentation.
In simple terms, it involves
- Finding a problem,
- Hypothesising or creating a theory that aims to explain and solve the problem
- Creating an experiment to test your proposed theory
- Testing out your theory
- Analysing your results and refining your testing process and hypothesis.
This same method can be applied to marketing to improve your marketing campaign. Applying the scientific method to your marketing leads to data-driven marketing which can help you better determine your marketing ROI. Simply put, you’ll be able to really narrow down what works by testing relentlessly to find a winning formula for your business. I have seen too many marketers running from campaign to campaign without capturing and analysing the data and optimising in the next campaign. As a result, some of the mistakes in previous campaigns are doomed to be repeated and in an unforgiving world of the hyper-connected consumer that is unacceptable.
So how exactly do you apply the scientific method to your marketing strategy for maximum results?
1. Identify and Create Your Marketing Goal.
The scientific method is all about solving problems and questioning what seems to be working. Most marketing goals are created to solve specific problems like increasing a company’s revenue or customer base, creating brand awareness, or testing a new product idea.
Likewise, if you want measurable results from your marketing campaign to help determine your ROI, you’ll need to be as specific as possible.
In this case, it’s not enough to just say, I’m looking to increase revenue by 20% or perhaps cut down ad spend by 40%. The more specific a marketing goal is, the easier it is to analyse and improve existing strategies accurately. Creating Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time bound (S.M.A.R.T.) goals are critical.
A good example of a specific goal is to increase revenue from new clients by $100,000 a month using a quarterly subscription model, by end of Q3.
The more specific you get the better you are able to dissect your strategy and determine what went wrong if you don’t hit your goal. Remember the point of applying science here is to help you really analyse your data and measure your performance.
2. Develop A Marketing Strategy with a central Hypothesis.
A hypothesis is basically a guess or proposed solution to your marketing goal. In fact, any idea you have in relation to solving your problem or reaching your marketing goal can be considered a hypothesis.
Chances are whatever marketing challenge you are trying to solve, someone probably has dealt with the same issue successfully. This is where interacting in forums and groups comes in handy. Forums like Reddit, Quora, LinkedIn, and Facebook groups are great places to interact with other business owners and gain insights.
For example, you may find that some in similar industries may have tried Facebook or Pinterest ads targeting a particular demographic with abysmal results.
Taking such opinions into consideration will reduce how much testing you need to do to optimise your marketing strategy. Plus, you’ll cut time and costs on potentially flawed strategies based on others’ experience. Of course, there is no replacing capturing empirical evidence yourselves but using insights from research can help you refine your hypothesis and ultimately your strategy.
3. Execute or Test Your Marketing Strategy.
For most marketing executives or small-business owners, executing your marketing strategy is the fun part, especially when it’s working as expected.
Always keep in mind however that this is just part of a bigger process of using science to find what works best for your marketing and will help you better demonstrate your ROI on your marketing efforts.
Manage your expectations and be sure to set performance indicators along the way so you can tell early on if you need to adjust your method or not. This is especially important when money is involved e.g., with paid ad campaigns.
It is also important to allow enough time for your strategy to ’mature’, especially with non-paid, inbound marketing campaigns like social media and blogging. Marketing strategies that involve organic reach take time, so be patient and ensure your strategy is multi-pronged with a mix of short term and long term, organic and inorganic tactics.
Many marketing teams or business owners often give up on such strategies too soon or don’t even attempt them altogether because they require a lot of upfront time investment.
For example, most successful bloggers spend between six months to a year building their following and traffic to their destinations without making any money or before finally becoming profitable.
Point being, realistic timelines and tracking the right metrics matter. If you’re unsure which metrics will help you determine if your inbound marketing campaign, here are three inbound marketing metrics that should matter to every business.
Because non-paid campaigns rely on organic reach, your timeline for assessing and improving your results automatically won’t be fixed but rather it will be more of an ongoing process.
4. Collate and Analyse Your Campaign Results.
So, you finally implemented your marketing strategy and got some results. Congratulations! Now it’s time to crunch the numbers and ask yourself some key questions:
- What story are the numbers telling?
- How many conversions did you get?
- What was the conversion rate?
- What is the quality of the leads? Do you need them to be better qualified?
- How many new customers or clients have you gotten?
- What is the value of your new acquisitions?
- Do you know your average customer lifetime value? What is the projected value of the new leads?
- How did your permission asset or database look?
- Were there material changes to the stats on your digital destinations?
This list isn’t exhaustive, but it’s just to give you an idea of how to quantitatively assess your campaign’s success. But apart from just knowing what works and what doesn’t, why does this data matter?
Marketing data like this is important when it’s time to review budgets and determine productivity. You want to be able to explain using the numbers to either management or your business partner why you need to continue with one campaign or quit another.
Apart from paid campaigns, the numbers also help decide how successful some tactics like website copy optimisation, lead nurturing campaigns, website conversions and even SEO are performing and hence justify the need to continue spending.
Basically, the data helps decide where more time and money should go and where it shouldn’t. Double or triple down on where you are getting the best ROI!
Depending on what marketing software you are using, your dashboard most likely will display enough analytics so you can get a better sense of how your campaign performed.
Google analytics’ backend dashboard for example tells you about traffic stats, ad spend and what your CPC looks like. Take full advantage of dashboards and the analytics they provide.
It also helps not to think of marketing strategy success as absolute. With marketing strategies, it’s never an absolute win or absolute fail but rather a scale of success or failure. Some strategies are simply more productive than others.
Another critical aspect of evaluating your marketing strategy for best results is to do data comparisons. Scientists often use graphs or statistical analysis to get a better picture of what the data is saying.
While some platforms may give you conversion rates and percentages, the best way to truly appreciate that data is to analyse it either using tables, graphs or any analytical tool that puts the numbers in perspective. Some marketers also use platforms like Data Studio or PowerBI to build custom dashboards to pull together data from disparate sources and visualise them for easier analysis.
5. Fine-tune and Re-test Your New Strategy.
Now you have a better picture of how effective your last marketing strategy was, it’s time to go back to the drawing board. Are you scraping the original plan altogether or you’re only replacing parts of it?
The effectiveness of your fine-tuning strategy is determined by how well you evaluated your results in the previous step.
Most marketers do some kind of analysis but usually, there isn’t enough data to draw a definitive conclusion. Thus, it’s imperative that you get enough numbers to actually analyse. Scientists will call this the sample space.
It is also important to note that some strategies may need to be executed on a smaller scale before being rolled out on a large scale. These are similar to feasibility tests or qualitative tests that determine whether a strategy is worth implementing on a larger scale or good for long-term use.
A good example is A/B testing email landing pages or headlines. One of the benefits of digital campaigns is that you can do A/B testing in a cost-effective manner. Because we are close to a campaign we may have our own biases, e.g. preference for colour, copy, etc but it is always important to let the market inform your strategy and A/B testing helps to do that.
6. Now IMPROVE your Marketing Results!
If you made it this far in your marketing strategy process, great job! Now it’s time to step on the gas and really supercharge your results.
By this point, you already know what works better or have a good idea of what doesn’t. You also know the most effective approach to employ for optimal results. Now it’s time to scale your efforts.
Scaling can be tricky especially if there are many different variables beyond your control like other hired professionals and algorithms (Facebook and Google). So, it helps to employ other inbound marketing strategies like creating SEO rich content for better visibility.
Generally, inbound marketing-driven organisations have a 61% lower cost per lead than those who mainly employ outbound marketing, according to this Hubspot study. Thus, it’s worth investing in your inbound marketing strategy for long-term brand visibility.
You can start a blog, social media account or even a podcast to build brand awareness and hence improve your visibility on search engines. As a marketer, you should know who your target audience is and where they spend the most time so you can reach them.
With most things, to improve results over time, you’ll need to increase the effort in the short term. The same rule applies to marketing campaigns and strategies. To get the most results, you’ll need to either double the time or money needed to run a campaign.
No matter what kind of marketing approach you employ, you’ll want to optimise your efforts, so you get the most return on time investment. Like most other aspects of business, you’ll need to evaluate your marketing efforts.
By applying the scientific method throughout your marketing efforts, you’ll have a much better idea of what works and what doesn’t work. This will eventually help you narrow down the most effective marketing strategies for your business that will guarantee long-term success.
Brevard Nelson is the Co-Founder and CEO of Caribbean Ideas Synapse. He has over 20 years of experience in the world of Marketing and Communications. He is impassioned by our Caribbean region utilising technology to drive development. When he’s not working with Team Synapse on integrated marketing client strategies, he’s actively involved in various ways to give back to and create the next generation of leaders through multiple non-profit organisations.