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Posts Tagged ‘testing’

Marketing Management: 6 lessons from The Walking Dead for your team and marketing efforts

October 20th, 2015
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For decades, people have been pulling leadership and life lessons from film and television. From sports and war inspired movies to law dramas and comedies, we see characters make tough decisions, lead their teams to victory or support them through the losses.

For me, apocalypse stories often have some of the most dynamic and interesting characters to watch. To survive in such circumstances, they often learn important lessons that you just don’t think about or encounter as dramatically in a normal day-to-day life. Stripping them of their modern conveniences and the restraints of society and laws, you quickly get to see who they really are as a person.

Even though the office place doesn’t require the same life-or-death decisions, we can still draw out valuable lessons from the decisions these characters make.

The Walking Dead fans like me know that Season 6 has finally arrived. To celebrate, I’ve rounded up six lessons marketing leaders can take away from the drama and apply to their teams.

6 lessons from The Walking Dead for your team and marketing efforts

 

Lesson #1. Don’t let your guard down (and keep testing)

“You’re not safe. No matter how many people are around, or how clear the area looks, no matter what anyone says, no matter what you think. You are not safe. It only takes one second. One second and it’s over. Never let your guard down. Ever. I want you to promise me.”

—    Rick Grimes, Season 5 

You might be asking how this relates to marketing. Replace “you” with “your webpages” and switch “safe” to “bulletproof.” Your webpages are not bulletproof.

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Customer-Centric Marketing: Listen to your customers if you want to live

May 12th, 2015
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Listen to your customers. That must seem like an obvious statement to most marketers.

However, taking into account the variables under which your performance is judged, how much can you really listen? Time and time again, I have seen many marketers find that KPIs conflict with what their customers really want.

In this MarketingSherpa Blog post, we will explore a few key instances from companies in various stages of maturity where focus on customers predominantly contributed toward subsequent success.

terminator

 

The underlying truth of the above statement is profound whether implied in the business sense, the entrepreneurial sense or even the “Terminator” sense from which this phrase emanates. In this day and age, if you want your business to live, you must listen to your customers.

 

The Customer Voice at Launch: The case of Yelp

As is the story for many startups, (including Twitter, which was originally a podcasting platform called Odeo), the Yelp we know and value today was not what its founders initially intended for it to be.

yelp

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Marketing: Science versus art

November 25th, 2014
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The discoveries of science can never fully bridge the mystery of the human mind. We need art to discern the difference. The effective marketer converts experiments and metrics into elegant forms of communication. For the marketing organization to be truly successful, it must respect both the science and the art. Indeed, marketing translates science into art.

-Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director, MECLABS Institute

 

As the FlintsNotes.com curator, I often come across profound observations like this one.

I try to have Flint elaborate on them, or at least jot down some notes of other lectures or observations that pertain to it. Flint sometimes says jokingly that he has been “accused of being a scientist,” the scientific approach to marketing being sometimes seen as a means to an end.

In a perfect world, we would instinctively know what our customers want, and the best way to communicate our message.

 

The science of marketing

The science behind online marketing today is a fairly new tool in which we can use to learn a great deal about our prospects.

This tool, the Internet, enables us to track how prospects react to our various offers or messaging. One of the reasons why this method of testing is superior is because it is a record of how your customers have already performed. It is far more powerful than a focus group – for example, where a person may believe they will act one way, but in reality, behave a in a completely different manner.

The art of marketing has been around for arguably much longer.

Since the dawn of man, we have been convincing each other to purchase or accept food, weapons, goods or even religious beliefs. The ability to connect with another human being, to innately know what the other person is seeking, becomes one of the sharpest weapons in the marketer’s arsenal.

Metrics and data analytics can begin to paint the picture of what your prospects are truly interested in.

Even when prospects do not accept an offer or click the desired button, the choices they do not make tell a great deal about what they want.

By interpreting these results, the marketer can glean discoveries about their customers’ behavior that can be implemented across various other channels.

When the marketer can be sure an offer is being communicated effectively online through testing, that same messaging is likely to be just as effective in other channels like direct mail, or in-person at a store.

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How a Single Source of Data Truth Can Improve Business Decisions

September 12th, 2014
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One of the great things about writing MarketingSherpa case studies is having the opportunity to interview your marketing peers who are doing, well, just cool stuff. Also, being able to highlight challenges that can help readers improve their marketing efforts is a big perk as well.

A frustrating part of the process is that during our interviews, we get a lot of incredible insights that end up on the cutting room floor in order to craft our case studies. Luckily for us, some days we can share those insights that didn’t survive the case study edit right here in the MarketingSherpa Blog.

Today is one of those times.

 

Setting the stage

A recent MarketingSherpa Email Marketing Newsletter article — Marketing Analytics: How a drip email campaign transformed National Instruments’ data management — detailed a marketing analytics challenge at National Instruments, a global B2B company with a customer base of 30,000 companies in 91 countries.

The data challenge was developed out of a drip email campaign, which centered around National Instruments’ signature product, after conversion dropped at each stage from the beta test, to the global rollout, and finally, to results calculated by a new analyst.

The drip email campaign tested several of National Instruments’ key markets, and after the beta test was completed, the program was rolled out globally.

The data issues that came up when the team looked into the conversion metrics were:

  • The beta test converted at 8%
  • The global rollout was at 5%
  • The new analyst determined the conversion rate to be at 2%, which she determined after parsing the data set without any documentation as to how the 5% figure was calculated

Read the entire case study to find out how the team reacted to that marketing challenge to improve its entire data management process.

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Testing and Optimization: Implementing insights from Email Summit at accounts payable company

September 27th, 2013
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At Email Summit, marketers gather from around the world to hear success stories and case studies from fellow marketers and return to the office with fresh, new ideas. At Email Summit 2013, Rachel Hoppe, Marketing Manager, AvidXchange, shared how she did just that and presented the results from her takeaways from Email Summit 2012.

In this excerpt from her full presentation, “Email Measurement: How a former Email Summit attendee achieved a 270% increase in conversion,” Rachel discusses step six out of her seven-step plan for success she developed after she returned from Summit.

 

In this video, hear how Rachel and the team at AvidXchange performed tests on their websites using insights learned at Summit.

Learn why Rachel and her team choose to optimize content first, and how they continuously run A/B testing on AvidXchange’s websites.

“I would advocate to test everything. Test even the color of the button, or the format. I always tend to lead with content optimization first, making sure that I can get the eye-path down where it needs to be. Once I can get the content optimized, and then I can focus on graphics,” Rachel said.

This is just a brief look into how Rachel applied what she learned at Summit, and saw positive results. View the entire session  to see how her efforts translated to an increase of sales-qualified leads volume by 105%, and 68% of new revenue sourced through Marketing.

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Competitive Analysis: Stepping outside the industry and ahead of the competition

May 14th, 2013
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Far too often, marketers become so ingrained within their own industry they fail to look elsewhere for valuable insights. My goal for this post is to challenge you to broaden your horizons and escape the confines of your industry.

I’m willing to bet you’ll find something worthwhile.

 

First, a definition …

Cross-industry competitive analysis is a study of company behavior and performance, outside of one specific industry, comparing several significant competitors. Using appropriate tools and tactics, researchers use analytic data to determine paradigm shifts within similar industries, and make predictions about possible cross-industry trends.

(MECLABS has a series of free competitive analysis templates for you to download, in case you need a little help getting started.)

 

Where to begin?

Now, one of the most difficult aspects of cross-industry competitive analysis is trying to figure out where to begin. Are you supposed to arbitrarily select a different industry from which to begin pulling valuable insights? The answer is found in one key aspect of every company – from the brand-new startup, to corporate giants like Apple, every company has one thing in common that they cannot survive without …

The customer.

It doesn’t matter if you have the greatest product in the world – without an interested customer, it really has no more value than the old shoe on the side of the road. I cannot stress this enough: the key to finding valuable insights in other industries is putting yourself in the shoes of your customer.

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Marketing Analytics: Now that marketers can collect data, interpretation is the top challenge

May 3rd, 2013
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Technology is fantastic. But, it’s not magic.

Marketing analytics can be extremely powerful. However, just like any other tool or technology, it takes hard (and smart) work to turn data into knowledge.

So, in the MarketingSherpa 2013 Marketing Analytics Benchmark Report (sponsored by Paramore), we asked marketers …

Q: What were your organization’s most frustrating challenges with marketing analytics in 2012?

Then, we asked your peers what they thought about this marketing research. Here’s what they had to say …

 

Interpretation of data

What is interesting is that the top two challenges are related to the interpretation of data, not the collection of data.

We have finally turned the corner on the basic blocking and tackling of data consolidation through technology and processes, and now the most important challenges are focused on how to effectively use the analytics for improved decision making.

It has taken a long time to get to this point, but it is encouraging to see that 42% of respondents stated that acting on data to improve marketing performance was their #1 challenge, followed by combining data from multiple sources to draw correlations and make predictions (41%).

Integrating systems and siloed data finally has fallen to the bottom as most marketers have the technology and tools to do this process. Now we have to do the hard part and make the data talk to us, guide us, and give us insights.

– Cyndi Greenglass, Senior Vice President, Strategic Solutions, Diamond Marketing Solutions

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Test Planning: Create a universal test planner in 3 simple steps

May 2nd, 2013
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One of my responsibilities as a Research Analyst is to manage ongoing test planning with our Research Partners and at times, keeping tests running smoothly can be a challenge.

This is especially true when you consider testing is not a static event – it’s more like a living, breathing continuous cycle of motion.

But even with so many moving parts, effectively managing test plans can be made a little easier with two proven key factors for success – planning and preparation.

Today’s MarketingSherpa blog post is three tips for test planning management. Our goal is to give marketers a few simple best practices to help keep their testing queue in good order.

 

Step #1. Create

Creating a universal test planner everyone on your team can access is a great place to start.

For our research team, we created a universal test planner including:

  • Results from prior testing with our Research Partner
  • Current active tests
  • Any future testing planned
  • A list of test statuses definitions that everyone on the team understands – (test active, test complete, inconclusive, etc.)
  • A brief description of what is being tested (call-to-action button test, value copy test, etc.)
  • A list of who is responsible for each task in the test plan

 

Step#2. Organize

As I mentioned in the previous step, the status of a test can change and, based on the results, so will the ideas and priorities for future testing.

Some tests will move forward in the queue, and others will be pushed back to a later time.

So, to help keep our team informed of changes in the testing environment, we update the planner throughout the day and in real time during brainstorming sessions based on results and Partner feedback.

This allows us to focus our research and testing strategy efforts on expanding on discoveries versus chasing our tails to keep up-to-date.

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Testing: Go big, or go home?

April 25th, 2013
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One of the most common questions and debates we have here at MECLABS is, “How radical do we go?”

Let me explain – for every test, we have an objective we’re trying to accomplish and a set of metrics we’ll use to judge the performance and success of the test. If we “go radical” and change lots of different elements on the page, we might hit it big, or we might tank. But, either way, we wouldn’t know the true impact of any specific change.

If we “go conservative,” we’ll be able to directly tell what the impact of changing a specific element was, ensuring we learn something, but might never be able to hit that lofty conversion goal our team has set.

So, which approach is right? Well, the short answer is they both are. The long answer is the rest of this post.

 

The right blend between radical and conservative tests

That may sound like a cop out, but a successful test strategy needs to find the right blend between radical and conservative tests. Let’s try an analogy …

Let’s say you just started playing baseball. You’ve had batting practice with your coach and just can’t seem to connect on any pitches. So, your coach starts tweaking. Widen your stance. Lift your elbow. Tilt your head. Tweak, tweak, tweak. But you’re still not hitting anything.

Then, you try something radical. You walk to the other side of the plate and take the first pitch into the outfield. Turns out you bat lefty. That would have been good to know an hour ago. Chances are, you were never going to succeed with small tweaks, because there was something fundamentally wrong with your approach.

The same goes for testing. If you’re making progress with small tweaks, a headline here, button color there, you may never reach your true potential.

We always want to get a solid learning from every test we perform, but looking back through the archives, a lot of the largest wins we’ve ever achieved don’t come from single factorial tests, or variable clusters where we try to focus in on specific elements of the MECLABS Conversion Sequence heuristic like friction or value.

Instead, they come from radical redesigns, where we test a totally new approach or simultaneously improve numerous elements we identified as issues with the page.

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Who’s Running Your Marketing Department, You or Legal?

April 23rd, 2013
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I’ve recently been involved in projects for some big-name companies. We carry on through the project path and set up our testing strategy to optimize its landing page. Everyone’s all excited, and then BAM, roadblock. The party fizzles momentarily because these words are muttered:

“We have to get it approved by Legal …”
“Legal needs to approve this …”
“We’ll need to run it by Legal …”

As a research manager, those words translate into:

  • Nine more meetings added to the calendar
  • A three-week extension to launch the test
  • Wondering what the results would have been if our ceiling hadn’t been capped by Legal

Now let me be clear, in no way am I suggesting you subvert or choose not to follow the proper legal procedures within your company. I simply wrote this blog post to inspire you to push the legal department a little harder, so you can push the boundaries with your marketing.

The beautiful part about testing is we can shut down a test immediately if a treatment is failing miserably, or if legal issues arise. At MECLABS, we stress that at minimum, we will come out of any test with a learning – regardless if it produced an increase in revenue. Our creative teams are eagerly waiting to improve website design and copy.

But, we know your website and copy may prove to be better than ours. All we want is the chance to test the waters and learn from the results.

I worked with a Research Partner and we were pretty limited to testing these elements on the landing page:

I can’t even imagine the results we would have produced if Legal would have approved additional testing.

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