Replace Marketing Best Practices with Testing

As marketers, we sometimes get pulled into the black hole of thinking that best practices are the answer. We dive into case studies, we research articles, and we have discussions with peers about how other companies have achieved their success. The problem with relying on building our marketing on case studies is we don’t really learn anything for ourselves. Every business is different and just as importantly every product inside of the same company is different. Each can target a different audience with a different buying cycle.

If a campaign or advertisement works for one product or company, labeling it a “best practice” does not ensure it will work for another. Even more dangerous, the marketing campaign could be led down a path in the wrong direction from the very beginning.

So what do we do about it?

We need the answers to these questions!

When do I send out my message? How long should my email subject line be? What color will grab the attention on this direct mail postcard? At how long into the commercial do I ask them to ‘like’ us on Facebook? What dimensions do I create that banner for?

We should be figuring these answers out for ourselves.

  1. Have a clear marketing goal. Go back to the very simple reason of what the marketing department is tasked with. Is it driving sales? Leads? Registrations? Clicks? Visits? Understanding what the goal is will affect how it’s measured and therefore the results. It will quickly be apparent that the discovered “best practice” on our desk is for a company with a different variable.
  2. Build a foundation of testing. Set up a campaign to measure the end goal as an experiment. Continuously benchmark against the progress of the campaign and adjust as necessary. Build testing into the DNA of every campaign. If the campaign can’t be measured then take a good look at the reason it’s being run.
  3. Look at the results of the experiment. People are busy. We all are. But without the results there is no measure of success. We need to take the time to present them in a reasonably easy to understand way. If our CMO or executive board spends more time on the format than the data, it’s been done wrong.

Marketing can be a fine-tuned and running machine in every company. No matter what the product or company, each has their own needs. Relying on best practices will not only take a marketing team down the wrong path but it will set them up for future failure.

Undoubtedly, we’ll run into a situation (especially with the way technology evolves) where there is no best practice to choose from. Would we rather have a system in place to figure it out ourselves or wait until someone else does, so we can read their “best practice”.

Get Started with Pay-Per-Click Advertising

In the world of online marketing, pay-per-click campaigns are an advertising medium that marketers use on a regular basis. This method of marketing can provide a number of benefits to webmasters that you can’t find elsewhere. If you haven’t considered getting involved with this strategy, there are two advantages for using pay-per-click advertising. Before we get into these two advantages of this medium, lets explore what PPC is.

What is Pay-Per-Click?

Pay-per-click is a marketing method that is primarily offered by search engines like Google. With this strategy, you sign-up for an account as an advertiser and then create an ad campaign. You come up with an ad, a link to your site and keywords that trigger the ad. You set the amount that you are willing to pay for each click on your ad. Then when someone types in a keyword that you have listed in your campaign, your ad will show up in the advertising section of the search engine results. If someone clicks on the ad, they are taken to your website. You then pay a fee for each person who clicks on one of the ads.

1) Pay-per-click works with your branding strategy by increasing traffic

One way that you could effectively use pay-per-click marketing is to increase the overall traffic to your website. Pay-per-click marketing can be a highly effective way to bring targeted traffic to your site. Depending on the niche that you are targeting, it may not be that expensive to get visitors to your site. The best part is that the people who come to your site from these ad campaigns are actively seeking what you have to offer. This means that you’re not just throwing money away to get people to your site who may or may not be interested in what you have to offer. This makes it more likely that you will be able to increase sales or conversions. However, the positive takeaway you can count on is the brand awareness associated with starting a pay per click campaign.

2) Pay-per-click is effective for conversion testing that increase sales

Another advantage when it comes to taking advantage of pay-per-click marketing is to use the traffic to test your regular site pages or sales pages. If you are building a new site, it probably doesn’t have much weight with the search engines yet. This makes it difficult to get any traffic to the site. Without traffic, it can be difficult to tell if what you are doing is actually working or even something that people will purchase. By purchasing some traffic for the site with pay-per-click marketing, you can get a lot of people there quickly, so you can see if your design actually works and whether your market is actively seeking to purchase your product or service.

Something Important To Consider

When it comes to using pay-per-click marketing, you can definitely get results quickly. However, you have to be careful that you don’t spend too much money with this technique. If you set your daily budget too high, you could end up paying a very big bill for all of the traffic that you get. Make sure and set a spending daily spending limit to your campaign. And remember, Google may go above that limit in any given day but it will offset the over spending less in another given day. Google does this in order to try and maximize your click through ratio.

Inbound Lead Generation Campaigns

If you’re executing a digital marketing campaign, there is a good chance you’re ROI (return on investment) is based on how many emails, prospects, or customers you can get inside of your database. If you’re using a CRM (customer relationship management system) such as SalesForce.com or Oracle, those contacts have some real measurable value. Even more so when you can match them up with your sales data and discover little nuggets like customer lifetime value or simple conversions.

One strategy for getting more of them into the system is to offer something of value in exchange for the low cost of getting their email address. It’s not completely free, but it’s close enough. By giving them value up front, you are establishing yourself can begin to start the relationship.

Many companies try to double-dip their lead generation tactics by putting up a pay wall or going straight for the sale in exchange for their content. In today’s new economy, customers expect you to try and build a relationship before they open their wallets. This is true for B2B companies where there are sometimes hours of research or complex models involved. It’s also true for small companies or individuals wanting to brand themselves. If a potential employer visits your online resume and learns something, you’ve just jumped ahead of the bland one-pagers on their desk.

Customers want, or even demand, that you showcase your value by providing services or information on your website. It shouldn’t be a lone sales pitch with a form saying “give us your phone and email so we can call you 20 times during dinner”. Your website should be a tool driving conversation.

At some point in the conversation you can ask them to take the next step. That’s the point during inbound marketing where you ask for their contact information. That’s the point where you begin to target and nurture them via email, social media, and customer relationship managers. That point is only after you’ve given them something for free.

5 offers that add value and drive lead generation:

  1. Live or video demonstrations. Walk the prospect or customer through some of the best features of your product or put a face on your unique services. Leverage video testimonials and executives to add the personal touch to your website. Answer questions, talk about interesting facts, or reveal data that your company has access to.
  2. Informational whitepapers. PDF whitepapers make a great resource for your customers, especially when they solve a unique problem. What partners or resources do you have that could help your customers understand or act on a particular issue they’re having? If you can document a guide on how to accomplish something or educate them in an interesting area, you’ll be able to get their information quickly.
  3. Digital tools or calculators. Small and large companies usually have access to data and processes that customers don’t. If you can provide a lite version of your product or demonstrate some value with a free online tool then you’ll be able to generate some buzz and inbound traffic. Even if your product/brand is something tangible, you could create an online component to interact with it.
  4. Webinars and podcasts. Digital media is a popular tool for sharing information. They’re a quick and easy way to disseminate important information to large audiences. It becomes even more valuable when you make them interactive with surveys and live questions. The results of the webinar can be spun off into even more educational content.
  5. Community forum. Bring people together with a common background or interest. If you establish a secure place where like-minded people can come together and discuss their issues, you’ll get their information and generate content at the same time. Leverage your customer’s knowledge into shareable information. Keep everyone involved and don’t miss the opportunity for your company to jump in and be heard.

How do you attract customers to provide their contact information?