A key frustration of marketers is trying to stay on top of the ever-changing list of marketing trends, updates and buzzwords. It is stressful trying to find the time to understand how the latest Google algorithm will impact web traffic, how the new Facebook features will affect engagement, or how to harness the insights from the just-released business best-seller that is supposed to transform our marketing efforts.
How can we transform our department/life/world, if we can’t find time to read the book? The titles alone are exhausting. If you think I am exaggerating, just check out this example from Forbes 15 Best Business Books of 2015: The Compass and The Nail: How the Patagonia Model of Loyalty Can Save Your Business, and Might Just Save the Planet. See what I mean?
While staying up to date on the latest marketing trends is something we all aspire to do, we must be realistic. We are marketers, and there are not enough hours in the day to do everything that needs to be done, let alone stay ahead of the marketing curve. So, how do we choose? How do we make sense of which marketing trends to follow, and which ones can be ignored? More specifically, how do we know if Iterative Marketing is worth our time and effort? (Come on, where did you think I was going…after all, this is the Iterative Marketing blog!)
Let me start by saying that Iterative Marketing is different. It is not a trend or a buzzword, but rather a collection of existing ideas and concepts that, when pulled together into one methodology, become better than they were on their own. I, and the other Iterative Marketing champions, have been telling you that Iterative Marketing is the solution that addresses the inherent waste in marketing. And like any good marketer, you are skeptical. Well, like the vacuum salesman of yesteryear, I will show you. (Disclaimer: This will require some effort on your part.)
Try Before You ‘Buy’: Proving Iterative Marketing Works For You
Staying true to our fourth fundamental truth of a minimum viable marketing program (MVMP), we are going to start small with a list of 10 different ways you can start small with Iterative Marketing. By starting with the smallest possible implementation, we can prove the viability of Iterative Marketing before jumping in full-force. Below are 10 quick wins for testing that Iterative Marketing is worth your valuable, and limited, resources.
1. Start small.
When discussing your next program or campaign, ask yourself — what is the MVMP? By taking a step back and figuring out how you can run a small scale version of the program, you leave time and budget to adjust the program until you are able to get it right. By doing this, you manage potential risk and give the C-suite something they have always wanted — a guarantee that the marketing program will work.
2. Establish measurement goals prior to the launch of your next program.
While we include goals in our marketing plan, we often fail to tie them to specific marketing programs. And if we can’t measure it, we can’t manage it. So, when you are planning your next program, set aside a few minutes to discuss how you will measure the effectiveness of the program, and what it looks like when you get there. By taking accountability for the program, and setting measurement goals before the program starts, we can report on incremental value and identify opportunities to improve the program in the future.
3. Split test banner ads.
Select one variable and perform an A/B split test. But remember, you are not testing for the sake of testing. You want to select a variable that will provide insights that can be applied to future digital and traditional campaigns. Ideas for split tests could include modifying the headline, call to action or the visual element.
4. Perform a landing page experiment.
Landing page experiments are a great way to test the Iterative Marketing waters. Software like Convert and Optimizely make it easy to create and edit A/B tests that allow you to compare two versions of a landing page, with the only difference being the variable you are testing. A few examples of landing page experiments include testing the headline, length of a form, call to action, page layout or the inclusion of social proof. Remember, you are optimizing for conversions so focus on the components that will have the greatest influence on getting the prospect to take an action. And, if the insights gained can be applied to other programs, even better!
5. Build long-term assets.
Marketing isn’t just about what is happening now, it is setting the stage for the future. And the best way to do this is by building, and reporting on, long-term marketing assets like content, brand and data. Each is useful on their own, but when combined, their power is amplified. The use of this combined data strengthens future investments, making them more effective. By splitting your objectives into short-term revenue generation and long-term asset creation, you ensue the assets you create will contribute to better marketing performance in the future. If an objective doesn’t fit into one of these buckets, question whether it should be an objective.
6. Evaluate marketing channels and which personas they target.
While media buying has changed over the last decade, one thing has remained the same — marketers want the best content on the best channels to deliver the best ROI for their business. The key? Segmenting the audience to get the right message, to the right people, at the right time. Not only will this lead to more efficient advertising, targeted messaging on the right channels will lead to increased sales and higher customer retention rates.
7. Develop a persona.
Break down a subset of your target audience and develop a persona. The exercise alone is an eye-opening experience, providing insights that extend through the entire organization. In the short-term, it creates a shared language — almost like a shorthand for a mutual understanding that can be used in all decision-making moving forward. In the long-term, it leads to cohesive decision-making, business development opportunities, and a customer-centric culture.
8. Document a customer journey.
In a recent blog post, we outlined seven benefits of using the customer journey as part of a long-term strategy. While many of these take time to come to fruition, there are two immediate benefits that you will start to realize as soon as you start documenting the customer journey. The first is that you will gain immediate insights into the customer’s needs, emotional state and context along each point of the sales cycle. As you put yourself in their shoes, everyone involved in the process begins to see the products and touchpoints from the customer’s point of view. And this leads to the second immediate benefit — a shared vision, where everyone (sales, marketing and customer service) is working together towards creating the same customer experience.
9. Establish KPIs.
By identifying a KPI and defining its relationship to revenue, we can address one of the biggest challenges faced by marketers — proving the success of our program. Not only are we able to show an impact on top-line revenue, but also make optimization in real time, increasing the overall effectiveness of the program. The key is to identify the appropriate KPI, which will vary based on your industry.
10. Let your next campaign ride.
Don’t pick an arbitrary end date for your next program or campaign. Instead, identify key metrics, like cost per lead or cost per sale and continue running the program until you start seeing diminishing returns.
Take a look at your marketing calendar and identify where you have the opportunity to test out one (or all 10) of these quick wins. And then share your results in the Iterative Marketing community on LinkedIn — the good, the not so good and the “give me a promotion…because I just demonstrated how to continuously improve marketing ROI!”