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See better results and bigger wins with a test-driven digital marketing strategy.

Recent research from Smart Insights showed 49% of businesses don’t have a clearly defined digital marketing strategy. Gambling on hunches when deciding which tactics and digital channels will help you achieve your goals could land you on the wrong path. Marketers try a channel once, get a disappointing result, and decide the channel doesn’t meet their needs. Or after the channel fails to produce, they continue to plug away at it forever, assuming things will eventually work out.

Good channels don’t always reveal themselves right away, and bad channels don’t turn into good ones after meeting a nonexistent spending threshold. To avoid early abandonment and wasted budgets resulting from a prematurely folded hand, employ small marketing tests to evaluate social media channels across multiple audiences and creative approaches before the next round of betting.

The most successful marketers analyse new marketing channels according to not only their current performance but also their growth potential.

Sizing up opportunities

By looking at what a channel could become rather than what it is doing right now, you can base decisions on validated strategies instead of short-term numbers. The trick is to run small tests, analyse the results, and push forward with the most promising results.

Let’s say you’re in the middle of testing one creative asset on one audience and things are going well. Because that small test is indicating an opportunity for bigger gains, you want to increase investment in that channel and add new audiences and creative content.

On the other hand, if one channel continues to disappoint despite using multiple creative assets, targeting multiple audiences, and testing multiple combinations, drop the channel and move on. ROI will not eventually show up in a channel that exhibits no potential. Nonetheless, don’t look at your experiment as a failure — you’ve gained deeper insights about your audience.

Balancing out

Evaluate the success of each channel based on the opportunity it represents. Does this channel have growth potential for the next month or the next year? Did the test succeed because the content referenced a current event, or will evergreen appeal replicate the success across more tests?

Short-term wins matter less than long-term opportunities, so keep analysis periods long (at least one month) before deciding what to do next.

Many clients had tried Facebook ads in the past, for example, and gave up because they weren’t producing the desired ROI. When they turned to maxemus Digital Marketing to help develop their marketing strategy, they were shown new potential for use on the platform.

For one client we spread their media budget across five content and audience A/B tests to find a number of winning combinations. Today, our Facebook strategy for this client provides a dependable pillar of growth. We target a combination of lookalike and interest-based audiences, using Facebook lead ads over normal ads. A significant portion of the budget is focused on retargeting. This marketing strategy has reduced their lead acquisition costs by 80%.

How to decide whether you should go all in on a channel

Testing the success of a channel isn’t easy. Uncontrollable social factors can change short-term messaging success, but you don’t have to wait a year before rendering a verdict on whether to invest in a channel. Follow these four steps to weed out bad investments and identify channels that will provide the greatest ROI.

1. Know what you’re trying to change

Establish a measurable goal, and create a benchmark against which to measure your progress. Collect current data and measure regularly throughout the test to see whether your efforts are changing the numbers and, if so, which changes are the most impactful.

2. Build a hypothesis that centers your tests

Without a hypothesis, you risk measuring the performance of your test against the wrong metrics. Set your goal, and then develop a hypothesis of what you expect your test to achieve and how it will achieve it.

The best hypotheses start out broad and get narrower. Begin with a general idea, establish how the test will operate, and then make an educated guess about what will happen in the form of an if-then statement.

Say you want to try to improve conversions from ads on LinkedIn by using a blog post as the content. Your baseline conversions are at 1.2%, and you estimate that your improvement will push that number to 1.5%. With those facts, your hypothesis becomes, “If I use this blog post in my LinkedIn ads, my conversion rate will improve to 1.5% because the content in the blog encourages readers to buy our product.”

3. Report on everything all the time

Report on performance weekly to keep track of tests and to create data points to evaluate once the test ends. Don’t overreact to one good week or one awful one. Let the full test play out, and then evaluate the total results at the conclusion of the experiment.

At the end, ask questions about the impact of the tests, the accuracy of the hypothesis, and cause of the results. If you set out to increase Adwords conversions to 5.0% but conversions fell below 3%, don’t get frustrated. Learn from the experience and design a new test with a new hypothesis.

Many of our clients admit to relying on instinct when making important business decisions even when available data could help them because it’s too tedious to access. Don’t make such avoidable mistakes. Listen to your data, and let the results of your experiments guide your next move.

4. Compare against the industry

With the experiment complete and the results tabulated, look around the industry to see how other companies are doing. Even if you didn’t get the results you wanted, your data still provides valuable information on your position in the market.

To illustrate: If you set out to improve your cost per click on Facebook, how did you do against the Australian average of 1 dollar? If you planned to get more exit-intent email captures, are you above or below the average? Look for these numbers, as well as industry-specific figures, to see where you have room for improvement.

Don’t just execute! Tests turn hunches into data and data into viable strategies. Create a long-term integrated digital marketing strategy which aligns with broader business priorities. Book a Digital Springboard Session, today!

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