For speed and cost savings, almost no other media can beat digital as a way to test and adjust your marketing. Learn why it’s the “great big marketing laboratory.”
If you’ve read some of my recent articles, you’ll know I’m a big fan of pragmatic marketing decision-making and the reduction of wasteful money and time spent. That’s why one of the things I love best about being an online marketer is the fact that you can so easily and quickly test, learn, tweak and pivot your online marketing initiatives. For this reason, I frequently call digital “The Great Big Marketing Laboratory.”
I find, however, that not enough businesses take a testing approach to their online marketing. They either go “all-in” with big commitments before they’ve had a chance to test; or if they do test, they don’t really know how to go about it properly and therefore still fail (or succeed less well).
Approaching your marketing with a testing mentality allows you to preserve budget, or, with enough advance planning, budget more accurately. So this week, I want to share some ways and best practices to go about testing your marketing online.
What Analytics Reveals
Before undertaking any online marketing initiatives, you must review your web analytics. Web analytics analysis can not only establish baselines against which you’ll measure success or failure of your activities, but it can also reveal secrets about what already attracts (or does not attract) users to and through your website. If you haven’t already read my “Google Analytics: 7 Tricks for Smarter Web Analysis” article, I highly recommend you do so now to help better understand what to look for and how to analyze it.
What Search Reveals
I love search data. Search is still consistently one of the most popular activities online adults do on a daily basis, and therefore, what happens on search engines can be very revealing. Keyword research can reveal all sorts of useful nuggets for you to use to develop testing ideas.
I also love using Google AdWords for quick and easy marketing testing. If you know how to set-up and run a proper AdWords campaign, for a minimal investment of time and money, you can test…
- interest in your new products or services
- eye-catching headlines
- action-generating ad copy and links
- how much it will cost to generate the per-action you desire
- if certain times of day or days of week will be more fruitful for you
- Web versus Mobile ad versions
- if your competitors are minding the ship (and if they are, how they might react)
I’m sure you’ll find other great testing benefits from AdWords. Running a campaign for only one or two weeks can reveal enough information to help you make some first-line decisions about your next marketing steps.
Keep in mind too that some of your AdWords results will be replicable in other online marketing activities, but your expectations for what those other outcomes may cost should be modified. Search is one of the least expensive online marketing tactics you can undertake because people who go to a search engine to find something are already closer to taking action.
Ad Message and Creative Testing
Above I just mentioned a bunch of great ways to test marketing concepts through AdWords, but the same kind of testing can be applied to other forms of online advertising.
- Display ads. These graphical image ads can be a simple as plain but colorful words and/or backgrounds all the way up to highly interactive “rich media” ads that show video, let you play games or allow you to complete forms, among other things. If you’re just using display ads for testing, try the Google Display Network (which helps you build your own ads) or any of the other “DIY” (do it yourself) ad networks for low-cost, low commitment testing. With larger display ad buys, to take a testing approach, you should always negotiate an “outclause,” which will allow you to terminate a campaign if it’s under-performing after a certain period of time.
- Email. Email marketing is another great place to test out your ad message and creative concepts, especially if it’s your own in-house email list. A well-written subject line that generates a higher-than-average open rate can translate well into headlines you use for other advertising. Offers you promote within email and how you word those offers can also be rolled out to other advertising formats, as can how you depict your ad message graphically and the responses different interpretations receive.
- Social. Many of the popular social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube) offer advertising options. Social media advertising has had mixed results, but wearing your testing hat, at the very least you can learn if it will work for you, and if it does, do more of the same.
- Mobile. Mobile advertising is still the new frontier…but sometimes that’s the best time to get in early before your competitors do. Test to see if and how it works for you.
Digital platforms and tools abound to help marketers conduct audience and product research online. From the very simple polls and surveys (SurveyMonkey, PollDaddy, TwtPoll) to complex and customizable platforms, these tools let you gather information about your market, your competitors, product interest and demand, and other aspects of market research. Since so many people are online every single day, there’s a strong chance you can reach your target consumer to gather useful opinions and data.
And, in the spirit of proving my point, I’d like to ask you to complete the below poll:
I hope this article gave you some good food for thought as you plan your 2013 digital marketing initiatives. It’s OK to walk before you run, especially when your business’s time and money are on the line.Comments(0)
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