A phenomenon is occurring across the marketing landscape, best described in a four-letter word: FOMO. This “fear of missing out” has sent many a marketer to the ends of the earth, chasing one channel after the next in search of those coveted customers.
The truth is, jumping on every new network, every new platform, and every new site is nothing more than wagering on a hunch. Unless, of course, you take the time to understand whether that network, platform, or site will work for your business or brand.
Don’t get me wrong. Most companies explore their options when trying to get their message out. You’ll find an average of eight marketing channels used for any given campaign, according to a 2016 study. The most successful ones, though, leverage those channels that are proven to work while testing uncharted paths.
Testing, Not Hedging
When making changes to your marketing efforts, it isn’t enough to just do what everyone else is doing — that’s why nine out of 10 marketing experiments hit the skids. You need to test and then leverage those insights before taking a calculated risk — “calculated” being the operative word here.
How you go about testing a channel or message is entirely up to you, but the goal should always be repeatable and predictable growth for your brand. And this calls for a system of finding the right combination of marketing tactics, analysis, and return on investment-driven strategies.
You need to establish a set of rules — or a series of checks and balances — for how you gather data, what questions you need answered, and when to make changes to your marketing. As you learn more about your target audience, you’ll inevitably need to adapt the channel and message to achieve the anticipated results.
This brings us to the question of the hour: How do you get the most value from your budget with test-driven marketing? The following tips will help.
1. Apply science to the art of branding. You never know whether a message will resonate with your target audience until you test it.
See which way the wind blows by trying out different combinations of messaging, creative, and audience across multiple customer touchpoints and channels. Look for new ways to identify and reach your ideal customer.
Our company, for example, scraped Yelp for bar and restaurant owners who might be interested in a new program we were helping to set up in New York City. We ran a cold email campaign off our findings, and after just two months, 50 venues had signed with us. We also saw thousands of prelaunch customer signups, and those metrics led to an angel investment of $100,000.
2. Test the limits of your data. There’s no shortage of ways to splice and dice data.
Still, no matter how you cut it, make sure you gather enough information to reach statistically significant results. A larger sample will better reflect a target audience. If you cut testing too soon, there’s no assurance that your predictions are accurate.
When we spent more than two months testing whether a retargeting campaign would work for one of our clients, the answer was a resounding no. So, we recommended that they reprioritize their marketing efforts. If you don’t take your time, you’ll never feel confident with the results.
3. Place aggressive bets. Marketing is like high-stakes game of poker: You’ll go broke just playing the cards you’re dealt; you need to play the table.
In other words, customize your approach to the channel and audience, adapt to what’s working (and what’s not), and determine how much you’re willing to bet to gain the advantage.
Let’s say you make a bold decision. It had better be based on complete data, or someone else at the table will win the pot. Sure, you’ll find yourself losing in the process of playing enough hands. But what you’ll learn will eventually give you an edge — just make sure you work those bets into your budget.
Don’t give into the fear of missing out. You’re not missing anything if a channel, platform, or network doesn’t make sense for your brand. Take time to get the lay of the land, use all information at your disposal, and then — and only then — ante up.