Biz Tips: The Key to Marketing Success: Fail Fast and Fail Constantly

Biz Tips: The Key to Marketing Success: Fail Fast and Fail Constantly


The Key to Marketing Success: Fail Fast and Fail Constantly

Understanding Failure for what it is: Part of the learning process

Falling it’s not fun. Most of the times it hurts, leaving some scrapes and bruises. But falling is a necessary evil in any learning process. Whether you are learning to walk, bike, or simply trying to grow your business — you will fall. Nothing will ever be perfect from the moment it is launched. Even if you had all the data available to you, there are things you can’t know until you’ve tried them.

Marketing is no exception. We don’t have all the answers, we simply have frameworks that help us come up with the best possible solutions based on what knowledge we have. This means combining our marketing expertise and best practices available, with the understanding of the consumer and the business/product we are trying to help. With that, we make assumptions to create marketing strategies. Educated assumptions on who the customers are, what they are like, what they want, even on what the value they see in the product is. Some will be right, but some won’t — the only way to find out and improve is through testing and reiteration.

I would hope that we can all agree that a small failure is much preferable than a huge one. So, why is it that we always leave failing to fate? No one plans to fail — it sounds counterintuitive, but what if you could plan small-scale tests that will help you prove your assumptions and prevent real failure.

Failing Faster, Not Harder

It is surprising to see businesses launch digital campaigns the same way they would have launched a campaign in the 1960s on billboards or magazines. Campaigns then, would have to be planned and booked months in advance, the creative and messaging was set in stone and couldn’t be changed. All of the different executions and mediums were launched at the same time to reach people more frequently and be as efficient with every dollar spent. These were hit or miss campaigns, and you wouldn’t know if any of it worked until the next earnings report. Even if it worked you really didn’t know what specifically had worked, put in the words of John Wanamaker: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half”.

Now think about how a digital campaign or website launch can be much different. Starting with how easy it is to gather performance data and the ability that we have to pretty much immediately analyze it to understand and measure its performance. Or the flexibility that we have when it comes to making changes and customizations — in minutes we can change the messaging or image on an ad or website. So why do many campaigns get launched full strength sending thousands of people to a landing page without knowing if it works or not?

Testing and Optimization

Unlike traditional market research, this process is rooted in feedback on what is working right now, instead of trying to anticipate what might work in the future. Instead of assuming that something is going to work, put it through a test.

You get the concept. Now your brain is probably going through multiple ideas of what you could be testing. From the colour of a button to your entire home page on your website. Before you go down a rabbit hole you need to understand that what can be tested and what should be tested is completely different.

You need to identify and prioritize which test can lead to the most impactful results for your business. If you have a measurement plan already, this should be very easy to do (You can follow this 5 step framework that will help you define what you need to measure). Or you can go into your website analytics platform to find opportunities like what pages or channels with significant amount of traffic are underperforming.

Now that you have an idea of where improvements can be made, you have to dig deeper. Find opportunities and insights into what specifically could be changed to lead to the ideal improvement. You can use tools like HotJar or FullStory to see how people are using a specific page on your website. These session recordings can give you great insight on how people are really using a page and give you great ideas on how it can be improved.

When you are coming up with the ideas on what to change and test, you have to be very precise about what the result should be. Defining the hypothesis to test is very important as it is the only way to know if your change worked or not.

Once you have a list of tests you could be running, with their respective hypothesis, you need to rank them. This ranking will define what experiment you run first. These are three dimensions I recommend you use to qualify and rank testing ideas:

  1. What the potential impact it can have on the business.
  2. How confident you are on the change leading to an improvement.
  3. How easy it is to set up and test.

With this framework in mind, you can start improving your current efforts, and make sure your future planning is not left to fate. Running this test will give you pretty much immediate results, but at the same time, you will also be learning much more about your customers and their preferences. Knowing your customers better than your competitor gives you and your business a huge advantage — letting you have better relationships, messaging, and innovation.

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