In business, what gets measured gets managed, and that’s especially true for marketing. It’s important to test your marketing strategy — you won’t know if you’re on the right track until you take the time to analyze the results of your efforts.
Your marketing is the link between your product and your customers, so don’t treat it as an afterthought. Instead of assuming what will appeal to them, test and test again. Fortunately, website analytics, social network data, and customer feedback allow you to make well-informed choices in your marketing campaigns.
To get the most out of testing, consider using these three approaches:
1. Fine-tune your online visibility with analytics.
Your company website is the centerpiece of your online presence, so be sure to test it thoroughly. Analytics can capture metrics that indicate engagement on your site, such as bounce rate and time spent on page. And by looking at the keywords your site currently ranks for, you can pinpoint content marketing opportunities based on what your brand is suited (and well positioned) to discuss. For example, create a long-form post for your company blog on an industry topic, and include keywords you want to be associated with. Then, examine your analytics to see what additional keywords brought people to that post; use those to shape your next piece of content. Over time, this approach will help your company become known for the things you want to be known for.
Your online presence also includes ads, and these, too, can be measured and optimized based on data. This is important when you consider how people routinely ignore ads in their everyday internet usage. Insurance company Progressive reacted to this market reality by employing sophisticated open-source software to provide analytics for its online ads. The result? “We can better understand what users are seeing our ads. Is it the same audience or a different audience? This project is allowing us to become better at being able to identify that overlap, which leads to more efficient media buys,” says Andrew Quigg, media business leader for the company.
Social media provides tools that marketing researchers in earlier decades simply couldn’t imagine: millions or billions of users and previously unimaginable quantities of data. It’s a powerful part of your testing toolbox — for example, consider using Facebook to test your ads. The social platform allows you to associate your ad with six images, after which Facebook will automatically find the image with the best response and then display it. You can also directly ask your users which image they prefer and compare that data to what you’re learning from Facebook’s automatic ad image optimization.
Don’t limit yourself to Facebook, either. You can also use YouTube as a testing ground for ideas before taking them to wider release on television. Or you can follow the lead of Arby’s, which posted a side-by-side comparison of its curly fries versus its potato cakes and asked which spud-based side dish its customers preferred. The photo got more than 1,300 comments, which provided rapid user feedback on the two products. Do the same for your own offerings, and the data you glean will help you better concentrate your marketing strategy on the products that need it the most.
3. Analyze customer feedback and experiences through segmentation.
In the end, the only thing that really matters with marketing is how potential customers perceive it. “Running tests on engagement with messaging, branding, or user experience design can be an efficient means for determining whether a campaign is on the right track,” explains Sarah Fruy, director of online marketing for Pantheon. “You can test the same message with different personas to see how different audience segments might perceive or respond to content.” There are many ways to go after this important information.
You should extend your efforts to all aspects of your marketing by testing the full customer journey. For example, you can test the user experience by making small changes — to aspects of your landing page, say, or the layout of your menu options — to see how different segments of users respond. Analyze users’ behavior to determine whether those changes contributed positively or negatively to their experience with your brand. Did visitors complete the journey you expected them to, or did they bounce from your site without taking any action?
Compile customer feedback received across channels, and break it down by segment to help your team see the full picture more clearly. All the data you collect from this experimentation will contribute to a growing understanding of how your marketing efforts best connect with your potential customer base.
Great new options in analytics, social network data, and segmented customer feedback can enable you to make well-informed choices in your marketing campaigns. Getting those right can make all the difference in terms of brand engagement and growth, so start testing today.