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How to Plan and Execute the Perfect Marketing Experiment

Do your marketing campaigns feel like you’re throwing darts in the dark with nothing to show for all your work? We’ve all been there. 

There’s no fixed recipe for success in marketing. What works for one brand might not work for another. That explains why most marketers wonder if their next big idea will be a hit or a miss. 

But what if there was a more strategic approach to marketing success? Good news, there is

Marketing experiments can work wonders to help you plan, execute, and test the impact of an idea. Planned experimentation builds a roadmap for smarter marketing campaigns and stronger ROI. 

Ready to take the guesswork out of your marketing strategy? Read this detailed guide on executing the perfect marketing experiment for your next golden idea. 

Why you need marketing experiments

Marketers rely heavily on data and hard facts to create a results-driven strategy. Research shows that marketers spend more time reporting on the effectiveness of their campaigns rather than creating new ones. 

A well-planned marketing experiment can turn all this data into successful campaigns. Let’s look at four critical reasons why marketers can benefit from experimentation:

1. Test creative ideas for optimum results

Running marketing experiments builds the groundwork for optimising any campaign. The test-and-learn culture can help the team:

  • Identify opportunities for improvement. 
  • Discover what’s not working and eliminate errors.

Equipped with these insights, your marketing team can launch the campaign only once it’s fully optimised for the expected results. 

Besides, testing ideas also helps in pursuing only those campaigns that can drive ROI and prevent wasting resources on basic ideas.

2. Understand customer behaviour and market

Great marketing shows a strong understanding of your customers and competitors. You have to appeal to buyers’ cognitive biases and persuade them emotionally. 

But how do you ensure that your marketing efforts are targeting the right emotions? With experimentation. 

For example, experimenting with different aspects of your email campaigns - the heading, the CTA button, the colour palette, etc. - can reveal what would resonate more with your customers. 

On top of that, marketing experiments can also reveal how you’ll fare against competing brands in the market. Survey potential buyers and collect their insights to get a realistic understanding of your brand reputation.

3. Practice data-driven decision-making

One of the biggest benefits of marketing experiments is sourcing first-hand data to make informed decisions. Running experiments at a smaller scale can reveal the impact you can create with a full-fledged campaign launch. 

Besides estimating the overall performance, it can also signal the gaps to cover during launch and where to focus your efforts. 

The bottom line: the more data you collect through experiments, the better decisions you’ll make for your strategy.

4. Get buy-in from stakeholders

Getting budget approvals for a massive project can be a challenge, especially when you’re expected to do less with more. Plus, if the boardroom doesn’t show confidence in your ideas, they might scrap the project mid-way. 

With a small-scale experiment, you can prove the value of your ideas and present the ROI. Use the data from this experiment to create a projected estimate for a bigger launch and win buy-in from all stakeholders.

How to plan and execute a marketing experiment in 7 steps

Let’s break down the process of planning and executing a marketing experiment into seven steps.

1. Audit current marketing setup and past performance

Instead of relying on intuition to create a list of marketing ideas, assess your current marketing setup to realistically determine what you can achieve. Analyse your existing priorities and strategy to create a targeted list of experimental ideas.

You should also consider past performance to create new hypotheses based on this data. It’ll highlight your most effective campaigns and help identify your marketing strengths. 

You can audit your marketing setup with the following:

  • Analytics tools: Measure your performance across different channels like websites, social media, email, PPC, etc., with the right analytics tools. For example, use Google Analytics for assessing website performance and Hootsuite for social media analytics.
  • Customer journey: Besides analysing channel-wise performance, consider your marketing funnel and take a closer look at your customer journey. Find out where customers discover your brand, interact with your brand, and drop off. Note down these key points in the customer journey to create your problem statement.

You can also perform competitor research to see where you’re lacking against your top competitors. All this research will help with step #2: building your hypotheses.

2. Collect hypotheses based on your business goals

The first step will prepare a solid foundation for your experiments. With all the insights and data gathered in Step 1, you can start thinking of the problems/challenges to tackle and come up with campaign ideas.

Think of your entire sales funnel; visualise and create it using mind-mapping or flowchart tools to identify key opportunities. 

Whether you’re working as a solo marketing lead, in a freelance capacity, or with an in-house team, it’s best to start by consolidating all your ideas in a single place.

Once you’re ready with all the possible ideas to pursue, develop each idea into a hypothesis statement. 

A good hypothesis includes concrete actions and results. For example, you can hypothesise that launching a gated resource will generate 1,200 leads in a month. This hypothesis specifies the action (launching a gated resource) and the result (generating 1,200 leads). 

So, spend some time turning all your ideas into detailed and realistic hypothesis statements. The goal of your experiment will be to prove this statement right. That’s why you have to set realistic ROI expectations based on past performance. 

3. Use a growth and prioritisation framework

Of the many ideas in your list of the next big thing, how will you decide which one to pursue first? 

This is where you need a prioritisation framework to create a priority order for running marketing experiments. 

While many prioritisation frameworks exist - such as PIE, BRASS, HiPPO, etc.- the ICE framework is the most commonly used method.

The ICE prioritisation framework considers three key aspects of any idea:

  • Impact: the projected impact of your campaign and the results it can produce.
  • Confidence: the probability of your project hypotheses proving correct.
  • Ease: the resources and effort required to implement this idea.

Evaluate all your hypothesis statements and rate them against these three factors to calculate the ICE score. You can rate each factor between 1 and 10 points, then calculate a final score out of 30 points. 

This list of scores will help you prioritise your ideas from the highest rated to the lowest rated.

ICE Framework
Source

4. Identify key metrics to measure success

Now that you’ve done the legwork to finalise one idea you want to pursue, you need to define what success looks like next. 

Outlining your success metrics at the start is critical to track progress consistently and ensure you’re in the right direction - or shift gears in case you need to pivot. 

Here’s a handy list of metrics to consider when planning a marketing experiment:

  • Awareness: Regardless of your campaign goals, you have to track your brand’s reach to determine the effectiveness of your project. Measure the impressions, brand searches, and mentions on relevant channels to track awareness. 
  • Engagement: Besides improving brand discovery, you can also tie success to user engagement. Set estimated benchmarks for engagement and click-through rates; they will show you if your campaign is a hit or flop. 
  • Channel-specific: Channel-specific metrics calculate your performance on individual channels, like social media, email, website, SMS, Facebook lead ads, offline activation, etc. Attribute specific metrics to each channel for defining success. 
  • Behavioural: What’s the consequence of your campaign on buyer behaviour? Track user’s online behaviour metrics, like exit rate, bounce rate, cart abandonment rate, etc., to analyse how the campaign has impacted the path to purchase. 
  • Conversion: Conversion metrics come into play when you want to assess the long-term ROI of your campaign. Consider metrics like customer acquisition costs, lifetime value, and net promoter score (use net promoter score survey software) to measure customers’ responses. 

Metrics give you an unbiased yardstick to measure your performance. When you know what you want to achieve, you can actively optimise your experiment for success.  

5. Set up your tools and platforms

The effectiveness of your marketing experiments boils down to how well you can execute and monitor your campaign. 

That’s why it’s essential to spend enough time building workflows, creating sales funnels with tools like Clickfunnels or alternatives and establishing systems to make your campaigns a success. 

This step primarily involves creating processes and allocating responsibilities to relevant members for different aspects of your campaign. For example, if you want to tap into LinkedIn to promote your campaign, use tools to automate LinkedIn messaging and make your team more efficient. 

Remember to set up tracking platforms to collect data. Also, design your documentation templates to quickly analyse this data. 

6. Execute the experiment and track the results

Once you’ve done all the prep, it’s time to put all of it into action and execute your campaign. This is where marketers can drop the ball and make mistakes, poorly impacting the results. 

Don’t worry, with a powerful solution like Cognism, you can implement any marketing experiment from start to finish and track its ROI seamlessly. 

Cognism is a trusted platform for businesses to generate net-new leads, book more meetings, and boost their bottom line. For marketers, Cognism promises broader reach and more distribution opportunities to meet buyers where they are.

You can dig deeper into your TAM and learn more about your ideal customers to create an airtight campaign. The platform will also guide you to markets and personas you weren’t targeting but can benefit from. Overall, Cognism widens your reach to get maximum insights for any experiment.  

What’s more, you can leverage contextual data points about your potential customers to create laser-focused campaigns. This can significantly maximise the chances of success and produce the expected ROI.

7. Analyse the results and optimise the campaign 

The final step is the moment of truth when you find out if your campaign is a success or not. This is where you should analyse all the data from the entire campaign duration and interpret it. The analysis will tell you what worked, what didn’t and where you could’ve improved. 

You should also compare these results to the benchmarks you defined in the initial steps; you’ll see how far off you were from your expected ROI. 

If you’re working on an important project, use these results to optimise your campaign and re-run the experiment. Here are a few steps for optimisation:

  • Pinpoint exactly what should be changed or improved.
  • Run A/B tests to pick high-performing elements for the campaign.
  • Identify successful aspects of the campaign and scale them.
  • Implement the final round of changes based on the above steps.

Now, you can re-run the experiment. Remember that marketing experimentation is an iterative process where you have to constantly execute, analyse, and optimise different parts of the campaign - until you hit perfection!

Marketing experiments: the last word

Marketing is a long game. You need consistency and creativity to beat the competition and do something extraordinary. But not every innovative idea will lead to a great result. That’s why you need marketing experiments to create and launch campaigns that resonate with your audience.

Bookmark this playbook on running the perfect marketing experiment from start to finish. Prepare for your next experiment strategically!

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