In this guest post, Jamie Turner, CEO of 60SecondMarketer.com, explains why quality, strategy and execution are all just as important in the marketing world as they are in software development.
If you’ve been hanging around SmartBear long enough, you know we’re very focused on the issue of quality. After all, we’ve created an entire company around the concept, so you could say we’re a bit obsessed with it.
But if you read through our blog and analyze the content on our website, you’d think that our focus on quality is isolated to software development. The truth is – and this is true for all companies – if you relegate a focus on quality to only one department, you’re approaching the concept from the wrong angle. Instead, a focus on quality should permeate every department of your company, from sales, to development, to marketing.
How to Measure the Quality of Your Marketing
Most people think of the marketing department as being populated by touchy-feely folks who are more interested in building a well-liked brand than they are in creating a metrics-based marketing program. And, even though there’s something to be said for a well-liked brand, a top-notch marketing department is as focused on metrics as it is on emotions.
There are a lot of important formulas that can help you calculate the quality (or effectiveness) of your marketing program, but the starting point for any well-run marketing program begins with these four fundamentals, which run parallel to the software development process:
It is often said that a good marketing strategy will beat a good creative execution every time. High quality marketing programs have both, but the foundation for all good programs is a well-thought-out and well-executed strategy. All of the best strategies begin with a deep and thorough understanding of your customers and prospects. By understanding their wants and needs, you can begin developing a top-notch strategy, which ultimately leads to a top-notch campaign.
The best creative is built upon a solid strategic foundation. When a creative department is given the freedom of a tightly-defined strategy, they can focus their efforts on what’s truly meaningful to your customers and prospects. By eliminating the sideways energy associated with creative executions that aren’t on strategy, you allow your company to zero-in on high quality, top-notch executions. This is counter-intuitive because people who live in the creative world often ask for more freedom and flexibility, but a disciplined focus on a solid strategy can be liberating for both the creative team and the company itself.
High quality marketing programs focus as much energy on strategy and creative as they do on execution. In one study conducted by Briggs and Stuart, they found that marketers waste 37% of their marketing investment. Much of this waste can be linked back to poor execution – for example, campaigns that were run in the wrong medium, campaigns that were directed at the wrong target, and campaigns that contained an irrelevant message.
During much of the 20th century, marketing campaigns were difficult to test because they were simply branding campaigns designed to generate awareness and preference. But in the second half of the 20th century the direct response industry started measuring the effectiveness of campaigns on a statistical basis. The result was that the quality of the campaigns started improving - as measured by their impact on the bottom line.
How to Test the Effectiveness of Your Marketing Campaigns
When something is measured, it invariably improves. The question is, “What should I measure?” The answer, of course, is conversions. A conversion is the ratio of prospects to customers. For example, if you have 100 prospects and one of them converts to a customer, then your conversion ratio is 1%.
With the advent of digital marketing, measuring a conversion ratio is much easier than it was in the branding days of the 20th century. Today, when a prospect is driven to a landing page on your website, it’s very easy to track what percentage of them convert to paying customers. If your best landing page converts at 1%, then you can assign that landing page as your control. The control is the best-performing version of that piece of marketing communication.
Once you’ve established the control, you can conduct an A/B split test. An A/B split test splits your traffic between two versions (A being the control and B being the test version). Here are some of the elements you might want to examine if your conducting an A/B split test:
- The call to action’s wording, size, color and placement
- Headline or product description
- Form length and type of fields
- Layout and style of website
- Product pricing and promotional offers
- Images on landing and product pages
- Amount of text on the page
Quality in Marketing Begins with Testing
The best software developers test their way to success. The best marketers do the same. And it all begins by establishing a solid strategic, creative and executional foundation and then moving into a metrics-based approach to marketing. The starting point for any metrics-based marketing campaign is A/B split testing. When you conduct an A/B split test, you’re laying the foundation for calculating your marketing ROI, which involves customer lifetime value, customer profitability analysis and other topics that we can talk about in future blog posts.