Marketing is hard. Many times the results are subjective, and it's not clear on what marketing strategy will generate the best results. Because there are so many marketing channels to choose from to market your company's products or services, it becomes difficult to choose just one, so many end up choosing multiple which dilutes the results.
Marketers can choose from email marketing, social media marketing, Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Influencers, billboards and partnerships, and I'm sure that's only 10 percent of the available channels. The list goes on and on.
Invest a little in all of them and you'll see no results because you're not focused and invest too much in a single channel that isn't performing, then you're going to run out of money quickly.
For startups, this decision can make or break your company. I've heard plenty of stories where a well-funded startup will put a lot of money into Google Ads, but then never get the traction they needed from the channel, and end up shutting down because they don't have money to try out other marketing approaches.
The question that I always get from other marketers is: Which marketing channel is the best? I used to give out answers right away based on my knowledge of the industry, or sometimes say that it depends on many factors, but both of those answers are insufficient.
The real answer is that successful marketing relies on running multiple experiments on multiple marketing channels to figure out the best performing marketing channel for the business. It's an experimentation and learning framework that I've grown to love.
Here is how it works:
Start with three guesses and three months.
Every time I take over marketing for a company, I start with the mindset that I know nothing. It's very tempting to start implementing tactics to grow the company's core metrics, but it never ends well. What worked for one company, will not always work for another company, even if the services are identical.
So, instead of jumping in to create a strategy and present the team, I do something else: I introduce an experimentation model where I pick three marketing channels that could meet our core metrics, and I give it three months to run a campaign for each marketing channel to see which one will perform the best.
Who knows what's going to work, but if the team is diligent with testing these ideas, we will have a data-driven approach to marketing instead of just putting all of our eggs into a single basket that we don't even know if it's going to work or not.
I set the expectation that I really don't have an idea of what marketing channel is going to generate us the most revenue. It could be one marketing channel or it could be a combination of three. But, rarely do more than three channels work for generating revenue, leads, etc, and many times its one channel that brings in the dough.
Let's go through an example.
Pretend you're selling pet rocks, and you are now their Director of Marketing. Each pet rock is $2.99 and the rocks have been selling at a good pace but could be improved with more focus. The three channels I think would work the best for selling pet rocks are Influencer Marketing, Google Ads (PPC), and creating organic LinkedIn content.
We would run a three-month marketing campaign with enough budget and time for each, to give them a chance for success. We then track the results closely.
To track these campaigns are fairly simple -- Create a simple spreadsheet that has the name of the experiment, how much money going to invest in the experiment, expected results and actual results. For expected and actual results, my recommendation is to pick a single metric: Examples are revenue, acquired users or traffic to the website. Whichever metric is going to help you grow your business, that's the one you should focus on. You shouldn't identify more than two core metrics for these experiments.
When the campaigns are finished, you should fill out the spreadsheet with the results.
Let's say after running the pet rock campaign experiments, Influencer Marketing brought in 40 sales of pet rocks, while LinkedIn generated 5 and paid ads only generated 1 sale. Influencer marketing worked really well, while the others didn't.
The next step in this process is to stop working on the other two channels and put more energy, and budget into Influencer Marketing. That's the experimentation model in a nutshell.
The key to making this work is that you should always be experimenting. The influencers marketing channel could peak at 100 sales and would require you to explore other channels.
So, the next time you're going to run marketing for your business, try the experimentation model.