Always Be Testing: a 905-Word Guide to Better Marketing

Blog-Post-Graphic_TestingAs marketing continues to evolve, marketers who continually test new, creative ideas and technologies will prevail over those who don’t. This is also true of the organizations that foster such creativity among their marketing practitioners.

It’s true – marketing is becoming more scientific every day, but anyone who believes that this in any way indicates a shift away from creativity is blatantly wrong. Great scientists are creative, and marketers should always keep this in mind.

Continuously testing new ideas in creative ways doesn’t just unveil winning marketing tactics, it also keeps us and our teams from gradually falling into the “we’ve done it this way forever” mentality. And any marketer who’s spent enough time in the industry understands how devastating this way of thinking can be.

So here are a few things I constantly remind myself so as to not to fall into a pit of self-satisfied complacency.  …I actually have them written and hung on my office wall under the heading “Always Be Testing (ABT)”:

Never Stop Asking Questions  

People who always ask questions irritate me. They irritate everybody. Think of your four-year-old nephew that never shuts up…ridiculously irritating, right? Yeah…he’ll probably wind up being a senator.

Inquisitive people may be annoying, but more often than not, they’re usually incredibly successful. …and they usually make those around them more successful as well. So, don’t be afraid to irritate – ask questions:

  • Ask sales what feedback they’re receiving from the prospects they’re following up with.
  • Ask customers if they feel the messaging they received before product purchase aligns with the value they see now that they own and use it.
  • If you’re a demand gen marketer, ask your marketing operations colleagues how you can help improve the ease of analytics or increase lead velocity.
  • Ask marketers at other companies which new marketing technology they’re using, why they’re using it and how it’s working out.
  • Ask your marketing tech vendors what’s on the product roadmap so you can prepare new initiatives and tests.
  • Also ask them if their other customers are using the tech in innovative ways.

And always, always ask: Can we be doing what we’re doing better?

Just be inquisitive. Not only does this help you do your job better, it keeps the job interesting and fun. And when you enjoy your work, it shows all the way through to the customer and affects their desire to build a relationship with your company.

Are You Going to Measure That?

You probably should.

Testing often won’t do much if you don’t measure results. So test a lot, but measure even more. …unless it’s something like Facebook likes. Then you’re just being vain and stupid.

Our marketing team at Integrate has a scorecard that we track on a monthly basis. It includes everything from the usual lead conversion rates and velocity to social traffic and channel partner contacts to published byline articles and media mentions to the results of new martech investments against its objectives…and a whole lot more.

We also have individual quarterly objectives. They’re always ambitious and they always work. And not because we fear disappointing the expectations of our embarrassingly successful CEO; measuring progress is simply a good motivator for good marketers.

Bets are another great way to motivate testing and measuring new initiatives. Integrate CMO Scott Vaughan and I have a running bet based on content creation and promotion tactics. I won the last one.  

There’s a Fine Line between Value and Wasted Time

You need to test. And you need to test a lot. But try not to be an idiot about what you’re testing. I struggle with this a lot due to my proclivity for idiocy.

In many ways, this goes back to asking questions, but it’s important enough to call out on its own. Ask yourself (and maybe others):

  • What do I expect to learn or achieve from this test?
  • Do the expected learnings or results outweigh the costs or effort in testing?

If the answer to the second question is no, then it’s not worth testing. For example, if you’re a start-up and have relatively few customers, it’s probably not worth investing in a tech that promotes social influence among your customer base.

Likewise, if your sales team isn’t overwhelmed by lead volume and scrambling to identify the best prospects to follow up with, you probably don’t need to test a predictive analytics solution.

If you’re a B2B company and still growing your social presence on LinkedIn, you probably don’t need to put a lot of effort into testing Facebook.

…or maybe you do. That’s for you to decide. It’s just not the best idea for us marketers to jump headfirst into an empty pool while the marketing industry is benefitting from a flood of opportunities.

Find the Time

Finally, it’s imperative to find time to test new ideas. If you’re reading this and saying to yourself, “I don’t have the time to test new ideas,” then you’re the perfect candidate to test an idea or tech that’ll create the efficiency required to test new ideas.  …I understand that that’s a circular argument, but sometimes we have to throw things on the backburner in order to advance our main priorities.

Continually testing new ideas is the only way we can keep pace with how quickly marketing is evolving. If you find the time, test wisely and measure your results, you’ll outpace the competition and help your company do the same.

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