Marketing Is No Longer An Art, It’s Now A Science; Learn The Science Of Marketing To Drive Business Results
Since the beginning of time, advertising and therefore marketing has been considered art. Agencies put their best creative work out there and drove awareness, impressions and brand equity for their clients. People saw the ads and remembered them —in turn buying more products. That was all well and good when people watched TV, listened to the radio and read the newspaper. As you might imagine, today’s world is a little different. We skip past the commercials, get our information in bit sized chunks and listen to personalized music on our devices.
The way people buy has also changed dramatically. Today salespeople don’t control the sales process. Consumers are in charge and they control their own buying journey, collecting information on the web, interacting on social media, and only engaging with a sales person at the very end of the cycle.
These transitions have transformed marketing from the art that it was, to science.
We have access to every kind of data on every type of marketing interaction, and we can use these insights to turn our marketing into a repeatable, scalable and predictable lead generation machine.
If your company is missing its lead generation machine, then the rest of this article will introduce you to some concepts that should help you start your own evolution from interruptive, expensive and wasteful outbound marketing to efficient, focused and effective inbound marketing strategies.
The Science of Inbound Marketing
Marketing is about numbers, which means there is now a scientific approach to marketing. Creating a repeatable marketing process that gives consistent results requires testing, experimentation and documentation, which is the very essence of science. We know what to do, when to do it and how to do it to produce the desired results. It’s fantastic.
The days of focusing on impressions or awareness are over. If you know how many leads you need, I can tell you exactly what you need to do to get those leads and more. Tell me how much new business revenue you need to generate and I’ll tell you exactly what to do from the time your prospect initiates their first click to the time they sign your proposal.
Using Data To Make Decisions
How can anyone possibly do what I’m saying we can do?If you pose this question to any marketer, they might try and tell you that it’s not that straightforward, that it’s not
If you pose this question to any marketer, they might try and tell you that it’s not that straightforward, that it’s not exact science. But, I disagree. I believe it’s 100% exact science. I know that, because I’ve seen the data for hundreds of companies, and the marketing performance is the same every single time.
Now, some companies are still making marketing decisions based on gut, opinions, attitudes and assumptions. But there are others (like our team at Square 2 Marketing J), that have the experience to use inbound marketing strategies and experiments to help you be smart about your marketing.
If you come to me to help you set your inbound marketing engine, this is how I would approach the problem. I just look at the data at hand and leverage it to drive results. I don’t care about intuitions – yours or mine. Because, if I was to go by what you think, then I’ll probably end up giving you the same results you have received so far. And, neither of us would want that, would we?
We Should Test That
When you talk about a scientific approach to marketing, the first change you need to make is to add a testing strategy to everything. When you’re discussing your website, content you want to create, emails you want to send or anything else, you should be open to testing your strategy. The answer to almost every question should be “we should test that.”
Page headlines, test them.
Email subject lines, test them.
Offer position, test it.
CTA title and graphics, test them.
Almost everything should be tested.
This is primarily why we love agile marketing and specifically why we love the incremental development of clients’ websites. Instead of working with clients to plan, design, write and develop a complete website in a development sandbox and then make it live, we recommend creating single pages and adding pages incrementally to the site based on live site data. It always produces better results.
Application of Experiments
Using science to improve marketing results means you need a testing methodology. You must understand how to plan, execute and evaluate your tests or experiments.
You must be patient and only change one variable in each experiment. Yes, this might take longer to uncover the key insights, but the intelligence you derive is supremely valuable. If you change more than one aspect of your campaign at a time and it outperforms, you won’t know which variable contributed. Similarly, if the test underperforms, you won’t know which change pushed down your numbers.
The best scientists are fastidious about their methodology, and you should be too. It’s easy to want to change the headline, form, image and copy on your landing page in a desire to see the results spike up. But if you do that, you won’t learn anything from your experiment and you won’t be able to replicate the results on your next landing page.
The last aspect of experimentation that’s important is the size of your data set. In my opinion, there’s no need to start calculating statistical relevance or confidence. You don’t need thousands of clicks to know if a page is performing or not, you just need common sense, combined with your experiments. We’re not talking about rocket science, pharmaceuticals or financial derivatives. We’re talking about lead generation. If your data set is too small, no one is going to be harmed.
Use common sense. If you have two visitors to your page, you don’t have enough to make any sound decisions, but if you have 2,000 visitors you probably have too many and could have made a decision at 200 visitors. Make sure you’re sure that your present number is a true representative of your overall efforts. Then, make a decision and move on.
Focus on Business Outcomes
With all this data, it’s easy to be distracted by visitors, conversions, form fills, clicks, views and opens, but what you really want to be laser-focused on is business results. You must carry the results all the way through the entire process from the first click to final close.
The marketing scientists who get the best results are those who look beyond the marketing data and focus on the business data.
For example, what is the ultimate conversion rate for a website visitor to new client, and what is the average revenue from new customers who come from your website? Do visitors from a particular lead source have better closure rates over others?
If you know what data to focus on, you can project revenue directly from website visitor data. Drive up the website visitor numbers and you directly impact company revenue.
This changes your perspective, too. By focusing on the business results, you start looking at conversion rates up and down the marketing and sales funnel. When you improve close rates on proposals submitted and shorten the sales cycle by adjusting the sales process, marketing has a strategic seat at the table.
Look, I get it. This might sound dramatically different from what you’ve been doing so far. This might sound like more hard work than usual. It sounds like it might require new thinking and maybe even some new tools.
It’s all true. It’s also going to take time. Since you’re not buying more ads, attending more trade shows, making more calls or sending more catalogues, it’s going to feel uncomfortable thinking about sales and marketing in scientific terms.
But once you see results, you’ll go all-in. Knowing what levers to push or pull to produce the kind of results you need to grow your business is addicting. More importantly, being able to predict lead generation and new customer revenue is game-changing. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll wish you were doing it years ago.