Daniel Burstein

Marketing Strategy: How to find answers to the most common marketing questions

March 19th, 2013

At MarketingSherpa, we are often asked:

  • Are my open rates low?
  • What is the ideal conversion rate?
  • Why do I have a high unsubscribe rate and how can I improve it?

Unfortunately, these are the marketing equivalents of “What’s the meaning of life?” While some blogs might have a pithy response with the perfect solution usually involving the product they sell, much like the meaning of life question, the answer likely varies based on your unique situation.

But … I can help you answer these types of questions for yourself, by answering this question we received from Jim on a recent email marketing webinar

  • What is the biggest mistake people are making in today’s environment?

To me, every marketing campaign (and really, everything we do in life) can be improved by taking these three steps …

  1. Learn
  2. Test
  3. Iterate

In today’s MarketingSherpa blog post, I’m going to focus on the “learn” step, because I sometimes feel marketers don’t cast a wide enough net during this crucial step. And, that’s what we do here at MarketingSherpa – we help you learn.

Of course, once you have new ideas about what might work for your company, test them. In this way, you can try some really radical ideas to drastically improve results while mitigating risk. Our sister site, MarketingExperiments, can teach you more about testing.

And, of course, iterate. Or as the shampoo marketers like to say – repeat. What works now will not necessarily work in the future. The marketplace is not static. You must constantly learn new ideas, and try them out.



Here’s where MarketingSherpa can help. We can give you examples of what other marketers have learned through case studies and how-to articles, webinars, Benchmark Reports and blog posts such as this one.

When we look for case studies to write, we cast our net far and wide. This is where some marketers struggle. Unless the case study subject is from the same exact niche they serve, sometimes they struggle in finding the transferable principles.

On the flip side, when the case study is about a subject from the same exact niche, sometimes marketers overemphasize whether these lessons will work for them. Even if they are in the same niche, after all, they may have a very different value proposition.

So, as you try to address these challenges, ask yourself:

  • How are you learning from other marketers?
  • What biases are holding you back from learning from other marketers?
  • Are you overvaluing marketing tactics your competitors are doing simply because you’re in the same space?
  • On the flip side, do you undervalue tactics your competitor is doing because they “play for a different team?”
  • Do you look outside of your particular industry to bring new marketing ideas to your space?
  • What biases do you hold against tactics other marketers use outside your industry (B2B vs. B2C, for-profit vs. nonprofit vs. political)?
  • What biases do you hold against tactics other marketers use based on your personal opinion of their product, service or cause?

So, let me give you some examples …

In Thursday’s MarketingSherpa Inbound Marketing Newsletter, we distributed a case study called “Search Engine Marketing: E-commerce site turns an 82% bounce rate around for a 400% conversion increase.” I really like this case study because it covers one of those common, all-encompassing questions we often receive:

  • Why does my landing page have a high bounce rate?


Learn from marketers in any industry

This case study is about how Tops Products answered that question, and the resulting improvement in conversion rate. If a marketer saw the case study was about an office supply company, and they were perhaps a B2B service provider or a brick-and-mortar store, they might overlook the key transferable principles.

Tops Products was getting a huge bounce rate because the great inbound link it was sending people to the wrong page. After using a 301 redirect, Tops Products reduced bounce rate 39% and increased conversion 400%. That lesson is helpful to marketers in any industry.


To radically improve results, radically step outside of your comfort zone

Let’s go a step farther. Political marketing. I think every marketer can learn from politics because political marketers face an inherently huge challenge – they are selling an idea.

So while you may sell a physical product or actual service to your customers, political marketers must satiate their “customers” with a concept. Plus, they’re geniuses at segmenting audiences and understanding the different motivations of those segments.

At Optimization Summit 2012, Nathaniel Ward of The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, taught how a long, ugly landing page generated 274% more revenue. There is an excellent transferable principle in that case study for the question …

  • How long should my landing page be?

Politically, we may agree or disagree with The Heritage Foundation’s politics, but as a marketer, you must stay neutral about competitor’s products and learn from their tactics to sell what you are passionate about – your product. So, let’s take a look at the other side of the political aisle to get to another frequent question …

  • How long should my subject lines be?

Three letters. Well, a subject line that long – “Hey” – generated millions of dollars for the Obama campaign. It doesn’t mean that exact subject line will work for your company, but how the marketers at the Obama campaign learned about their audience through email testing and discovered some surprisingly effective tactics is an excellent transferable principle for marketers in any industry.

That’s why I’m looking forward to the principles Toby Fallsgraff, Email Director, Obama for America, and Amelia Showalter, Director of Digital Analytics, Obama for America, share during their session – “Email Optimization: How A/B testing generated $500 million in donations” – at Optimization Summit 2013 in Boston. This will be the first time Toby and Amelia have ever spoken together publicly about what they learned from this marketing campaign.

When you think about the biggest marketing campaign of 2012, it was, hands down, the presidential election. So, I’m excited to see what all marketers can learn from a (marketing) campaign right-leaning digital strategy firm Engage described as the most sophisticated political organization on the planet.


Increase your productivity, lower your costs with our scalable product

Sure, you could keep doing the same thing everyone else in your industry does, and try to attract new business by spending more than your competitors or sending more emails than them.

Or, you could step outside your comfort zone, learn from some radically different marketers and test some new approaches. You don’t have to like their product, but you can learn from their tactics.


Related Resources:

Email Marketing: 58% of marketers see mobile smartphones and tablets most impacting email

MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2013 Wrap-up: Top 5 takeaways for email marketers

Marketing Research Chart: Email marketing ROI

Mobile Marketing: 5 takeaways from MarketingSherpa case studies

Daniel Burstein

About Daniel Burstein

Daniel Burstein, Senior Director of Editorial Content, MECLABS. Daniel oversees all content and marketing coming from the MarketingExperiments and MarketingSherpa brands while helping to shape the editorial direction for MECLABS – digging for actionable information while serving as an advocate for the audience. Daniel is also a speaker and moderator at live events and on webinars. Previously, he was the main writer powering MarketingExperiments publishing engine – from Web clinics to Research Journals to the blog. Prior to joining the team, Daniel was Vice President of MindPulse Communications – a boutique communications consultancy specializing in IT clients such as IBM, VMware, and BEA Systems. Daniel has 18 years of experience in copywriting, editing, internal communications, sales enablement and field marketing communications.

Categories: Marketing Tags: , , , , ,

We no longer accept comments on the MarketingSherpa blog, but we'd love to hear what you've learned about customer-first marketing. Send us a Letter to the Editor to share your story.