If you've read some of my recent columns, you know I'm a big fan of pragmatic marketing decision-making and reducing wasted time and money. That's why one of the things I love best about being an online marketer is that you can so easily and quickly test, learn, tweak, and pivot your online marketing initiatives. In fact, I call the digital space the "Great Big Marketing Laboratory."
Not enough businesses take a testing approach to their online marketing. They either go all in with big commitments before they've had a chance to test; or if they do test, they don't really know how to go about it properly. Then they fail (or don't succeed as well as they could).
The testing mentality allows you to preserve budget, or with enough advance planning, budget more accurately. So this week, I want to share some methods and best practices.
What Analytics Reveal
Before starting any online marketing initiatives, review your Web analytics. Those analytics can not only establish baselines against which you'll measure success or failure, but can also reveal secrets about what attracts users to and on your website--and what repels them. To better understand how to decipher your Google Analytics, check out my piece: Google Analytics: 7 Tricks for Smarter Web Analysis.
What Search Reveals
I love search data. Search is still one of the most popular activities for adults online. Because of that, what happens on search engines can be very revealing. Keyword research can reveal all sorts of useful nuggets for developing testing ideas.
I also love using Google AdWords for quick and easy marketing testing. If you know how to set-up and run a proper AdWords campaign, with a minimal investment of time and money, you can test:
Even running a campaign for just a week or two can reveal enough information to help you make some first-line decisions about your next marketing steps.
Ad Message and Creative Testing
Beyond AdWords, the same kind of testing can be applied to other forms of online advertising.
Digital platforms and tools abound to help marketers conduct audience and product research online. From very simple polls and surveys (SurveyMonkey, PollDaddy, TwtPoll to complex and customizable platforms, these tools let you gather information about your market, your competitors and product interest and demand. Since so many people are online every single day, you probably can reach your target consumer to gather useful opinions and data.
I hope this article gave you some good food for thought as you plan your 2013 digital marketing initiatives. It's okay to walk before you run, especially when your business's time and money are on the line.