Why Experimentation Is Necessary In Marketing

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Smart Experiments And Analytics Can Reveal Your Best Marketing Strategy

What’s the best marketing strategy for you? Is it pay-per-click ads, ebook downloadables, social media, blog articles, or something else? The truth is, you won’t know until you actually try.

That’s the message behind Anum Hussain’s Four Principles for B2C2B Content Strategy. Hussain is a Senior Growth Marketer at HubSpot and one of the key minds driving the company’s Sidekick project and marketing outreach. In this article, she breaks down her Four Principles, and for the purposes of starting the direction of your marketing, we’ll take a closer look at the first one: Commit to a highly experimental process.

In her article, Hussain explains the principle as such:

“From where I see it, one-size-fits-all is to fashion what best practices are to content: a bunch of BS.

While best practices can inspire us, every decision we make should stem from an experiment. During my time as a one-woman content machine for Sidekick, all my research of the “must-have” content channels pointed to: business blog, LinkedIn Pulse, gated ebooks, SlideShare decks, SEO web pages”

In essence, Hussain is saying that it is impossible to assume one particular strategy will necessarily work better than another. Remember that Inbound Marketing is a malleable idea — for inbound campaigns, the goal is to bring customers to you rather than broadcasting outward, and how you achieve that can mean many different things to different companies.

Why Experimentation Is Necessary In MarketingLet’s consider the example of a local restaurant. Chances are, it won’t gain much customer traction by giving away a gated ebook. So what would work? Social proof, pay-per-click ads, search engine optimization, social media, videos, those are all logical ideas. Demographics such as location and target audience can help you whittle down choices, but you’ll still need to figure out which of your marketing options provides the best long-term investment for you. And don’t feel the need to just pick one or the other; if multiple channels are getting it done, stick with it.Thus, in order to have clear definition on what is working and what isn’t, your experiments need metrics. To get that, you’ll need comprehensive analytics, both on your site (especially on particular landing pages or conversion paths) and the actual channel (e.g. demographic breakdown for clicks on a PPC campaign). You’ll also need to define how long the experiments should run. Different businesses and industries move at different paces, but in general, a marketing initiative should be given breathing room — say, a few months — in order to see if it really gains traction. Some channels will require more patience than others. For example, PPC tends to be immediate while social media is a long-term investment, so adjust your expectations accordingly.

A good scientist always uses numbers to back up findings from experiments. Whether that’s done to test a new world-changing theory or to determine the best applicable marketing channels, the same model applies: plan the experiments, define the data points, collect data, and evaluate results. By experimenting with a number of marketing channels in a controlled fashion, you’ll quickly be able to see where your marketing budget should go — even if it is against the trends.

Forward Push: Experts At Marketing Experimentation

Do you need help figuring out which channels to include in your marketing experiments — or how to execute and track them? Contact me and let’s talk about it. Whether it’s practical answers to your questions or actual contracted services, I’m here to help.

Continue to part two: How Authentic Growth, Not Traffic, Drives Your Business


By Marc Apple

Marc Apple is recognized as a leader in the marketing industry and has 20+ years of experience helping businesses of all sizes improve their digital marketing. He specializes in website design, SEO, social media, and paid search programs. He is a frequent contributor to other marketing websites and speaks regularly about marketing to small business owners and startups. To learn about Marc and to contact him, visit his author bio page.


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