Marketing will always have threads of artistic creativity to be sure; however, smart marketers have evolved into scientists working daily with data analytics to assure that marketing dollars are spent in the most effective way possible. This shift in thinking couldn’t come too soon for small business owners who are ready for more than just pretty post cards sent in “spray and pray” fashion to everyone within a few miles. Simply put, the time has come for small business to meet big data.
Marketing goals can be measured for accuracy across virtually every channel of communication – social, email, mobile, display ads, TV, Radio and of course direct mail. However, it is the work and research that is invested pre-launch that ultimately drives the response and actionable metrics post-launch. Let’s take a look at how the application of the “Scientific Method” should be used to develop effective campaigns.
Where Art Meets Science
Asking the Question.
Before designing, crafting and testing a campaign it is vitally important for marketers to know what it is that they want to achieve. For example, we may be trying to determine what offers are most important to our customers, or we may want to know if the buyer who spends the most is male or female. This process starts by asking the question: How, What, When Who, Which, Why or Where? If it were only that easy…for the scientific method to answer your question, it must be about something that can be measured such as increased call volume or increased sales.
So are we ready now to design? Not yet, now we do some research.
Rather than starting from scratch in putting together a plan for answering your question, you want to be a savvy scientist using research to help you find the best way to approach your campaign without repeating mistakes from the past. Studies are conducted regularly on response rates, effective methods of delivery, design and even the types of technology being used. Learn from the mistakes of other business owners and marketers to help eliminate ideas that might interfere with an effective message.
Back to Junior High Science Class.
We have a question and we have done our homework, now is the time to develop our hypothesis. A hypothesis is “an educated guess about how things work.” For example, “If [I do this] then [this] will happen.” The key here is that you must state your hypothesis in a way that you can easily measure. Don’t forget that you goal here is to answer your original question.
Your experiment tests whether you hypothesis is supported or not. It is important for your experiment to be a fair test, so you must use a control model. Basically, the control model helps us understand what would have happened if we didn’t run the campaign. In other words, how would business have been if we decided to do nothing at all? Create a control group, for example, by omitting a percentage of recipients geographically from a direct mail campaign. Marketers can then monitor the difference in response across these areas.
Measure. (Use previous measuring tape)
Use the results to measure the success of the target group against the control group specifically looking for trends. But, be forewarned, you must have enough data to be statistically significant. If your test groups are too small and you don’t collect enough information you will not be able to make conclusions that are valid.
Don’t believe it until you repeat it.
A single instance can be a fluke. You need to be able to repeat the results multiple times in order to achieve believable statistics. Be sure to measure across seasons, weather patterns and holidays to get truer results.
Analyze your data and draw conclusions.
We live in a technology rich age and knowledgeable marketers will harness technology to gather, store and extract the information used to evaluate the success of a campaign. It is always difficult to support a campaign concept that doesn’t appeal to our own personal tastes. Employing the scientific method and using the right tools to gather the data will help you understand to which concepts your customers respond best.