Before the days of big data, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, decisions around most advertising campaigns were pretty much always made based on intuition or “gut instinct” alone. And while that might make for storied successes around iconic campaigns that hit just the right cultural sentiment at just the right time, it’s highly likely that those instincts missed more than they connected.
However, as our data has become more sophisticated in the digital age, so have our tools for quickly and accurately analyzing that widely available data. And with these tools, our potential for insight-driven, rather than instinct-led, marketing for both on and offline campaigns has never been better.
There’s no reason that any brand should still be relying on intuition when test and learn marketing can quickly and definitively say for certain what’s working within a campaign–as well as what’s not.
What is test and learn marketing?
The term “test and learn marketing” refers to a method by which brands can transform data into actionable insights by forming hypotheses around KPIs from campaigns or individual aspects of campaigns, then testing those hypotheses in order to both measure performance and make improvements.
As data around digital marketing campaigns becomes more readily available than ever before, and artificial intelligence (AI) as well as machine learning (ML) mean tests that used to take weeks now take minutes, test and learn strategies have become a critical part of any successful digital marketing strategy.
The key goal of a successful test and learn marketing strategy is to remove guesswork from advertising campaigns by making data-backed decisions in order to both measure the performance of campaigns. Test and learn marketing also means brands are better able to see which strategies were most effective within each of their campaigns across various platforms, making these insights a company’s most valuable resource for strengthening future efforts.
Some of the most common areas for a digital marketing testing strategy include (but aren’t limited to):
- Assigning value to leads
- Understanding which types of content are resonating across channels (for example, video versus long form)
- Measuring which pieces of copy generate the most engagement
- Calculating customer lifetime value
- Optimizing for repeat purchases
- Testing the success of different content based on a customer’s stage in the purchase funnel
- Rating the potential for success of a new platform (for example, measuring whether advertising with Instacart is an effective means of reaching new audiences)
Creating your digital marketing testing strategy
The Test and Learn Marketing process is very much like the scientific method we learned in school
Define KPIs: Understanding exactly which aspect of your campaign you’re looking to test will help filter out a lot of potentially meaningless data.
Create a hypothesis: It’s impossible to test if you don’t know what you’re testing for. For example, are customers in the midwest redeeming more coupons for hot cocoa when snowstorms are predicted?
Build testing criteria: Make strict parameters and remove the potential for variables that could confuse the results of your test
Test your most valuable ideas first: If it’s critical to know how many customers are visiting your website after engaging with your social media content, get those insights first.
Repeat the experiment: Things happen that are beyond our control. Test and then test again until you can be sure the results are reliable.
Let insights drive action: As your test and learn strategy begins to yield results, proving or disproving multiple hypotheses, make sure you’re not using insights individually, but holistically, as part of a unified, omnichannel digital marketing strategy
Glean real-world insights with your test and learn marketing technology
Skai’s Impact Navigator solution enables test and learn marketing by offering a platform to help your brand or agency measure the real-world effectiveness, or incrementality, of a marketing tactic in the only place that matters: the real world, with real people, as part of a real marketing test measuring business responses that matter like revenue impact, client acquisition, and brand engagement.
Leave the guesses and hunches to your competition, and speed ahead with your own growth strategy powered by real consumer insights.
Read more about Impact Navigator here.