Today marketing is as much science as it is art. Gone are the days where a B2B marketer’s role and success was tied to the quality of the graphic design or catchy campaigns they produced. The creative side of marketing is still very important, however, with the rise of technology, marketing has also become about data and analysis.
Knowledge economy marketers track dozens of key metrics at any given time. This may include page views, web hits (web metrics); downloads, clicks (advertising metrics); (friends, shares, followers) social media metrics. And that’s just at a high level. Sophisticated marketers can often point to new revenue and engagement with a high degree of confidence.
The power of having access to all of this information isn’t just that it enables marketers to report statistics, but rather that it allows them to make smarter decisions and to constantly improve/increase the effectiveness of their efforts. And that requires testing and measuring those efforts.
I recommend two particularly effective testing methodologies:
A/B testing involves using randomized experiments with two variants, A and B, in a controlled environment. This testing works well when determining the effectiveness of landing pages, subject lines, web pages, marketing copy. For example, I often use A/B testing to determine the optimal wording associated with LinkedIn ads. I create two identical ads and change one element (a visual or word) to determine impact on clicks and cost.
Multivariate testing involves changing elements of a particular ad, webpage etc. for a period of time to determine impact. This is simpler than A/B testing, however, it also takes longer because you’re not able to run different paths in parallel.
Unfortunately, many companies have not built testing into their marketing strategies. According to the 2013 State of Inbound Marketing Annual Report by Hubspot, 45% of marketers do not test their efforts and 21% do not know if they test or not, which means that more than two thirds of all inbound strategies are not effectively tested.
This may be the result of budgetary constraints or corporate culture, but as a CEO you should realize that marketing is a process and you need to invest in pilots. Good marketing is a process of constantly testing and improving and testing again–particularly in this fast-paced, global, knowledge economy.