How to Conduct the Perfect Marketing Experiment [+ Examples]
After months of hard work, multiple coffee runs, and navigation of the latest industry changes, you’ve finally finished the next big marketing campaign.
Complete with social media posts, PPC ads, and a sparkly new logo, it’s the campaign of a lifetime.
But how do you know it will be effective?
While there’s no sure way to know if your campaign will turn heads, there is a way to gauge whether those new aspects of your strategy will be effective.
If you want to know if certain components of your campaign — like that sparkly new logo or the new employee takeover series — is worth the effort, consider conducting a marketing experiment.
Marketing experiments give you a projection of how well marketing methods will perform before you implement them. If you want to know the different types and how you can use them within your organization, keep reading.
What’s a Marketing Experiment?
A marketing experiment is a form of market research. It’s a test organizations run to discover possible marketing avenues that will improve a campaign.
For instance, a marketing team might create and send emails to a small segment of their overall readership to gauge engagement rates, before adding them into a campaign. Additionally, they might A/B test the design of these emails. In this example, the team is creating a hypothesis (that a certain email design will help promote their campaign) and testing the hypothesis in a marketing experiment.
It’s important to note that a marketing experiment isn’t synonymous with a marketing test. Marketing experiments are done for the purpose of discovery, while a test confirms theories.
Ultimately, a marketing experiment can help you ensure your campaign or strategy will be effective. Next, let’s dive into how to conduct a marketing experiment.
How to Conduct a Marketing Experiment
Performing a marketing experiment lets you try out different methods of running a campaign to see which one will perform the best. It involves doing background research, structuring the experiment, and analyzing the results.
Now, let’s go through the five steps necessary to conduct a marketing experiment.
1. Make a hypothesis.
Hypotheses aren’t just related to science projects. When conducting a marketing experiment, the first step is to make a hypothesis you’re curious to test.
Let’s say you want to make a marketing email that will improve engagement rates. A good hypothesis for this might be, “Making an email with emojis in both the subject line and copy will increase our engagement rates by at least 25%.” This is a good hypothesis because you can prove or disprove it, it isn’t subjective, and it has a clear measurement of achievement.
2. Collect research.
After creating your hypothesis, begin to gather research. Doing this will give you background knowledge about experiments that have already been conducted and get an idea of possible outcomes.
Researching your experiment can help you modify your hypothesis if needed. If your hypothesis is, “Making an email with an emojis in the subject line and copy will increase our engagement rates by at least 25%,” and research on trends in your audience on email subject lines show that to be true, you know you have a solid hypothesis. However, if other companies in your industry haven’t seen success from emojis in emails, you might want to reconsider.
3. Choose measurement metrics.
Once you’ve collected the research, you can choose which avenue you will take and what metrics to measure.
For instance, maybe you will run an A/B test. This method will allow you to measure the results of two different emails, and figure out which email performs better with your target audience..
For a marketing email test, consider measuring impressions, reach, conversion rate, or clickthrough rate (CTR). These email metrics can let you know how many people are receiving, opening, and reading your emails, and will help you analyze the results of your hypothesis.
4. Create and execute the experiment.
Now it’s time to create and perform the experiment. If you’re creating an A/B test to prove your hypothesis about emojis in emails, then you’ll want to create two emails — one with a plain text subject line, and an identical email with 1-2 emojis added to the subject line. Try to only make slight variations between emails A and B to ensure accuracy.
When you’re finished designing the experiment, come up with a timeline, and decide how you’ll monitor the results. That way, when conducting the A/B test, you’ll be prepared to swiftly figure out which email performed better.
Finally, choose your recipients and conduct the experiment. Next, you’ll analyze your results.
5. Analyze the results.
Once you’ve run the experiment, collect and analyze the results. Use the metrics you’ve decided upon in the second step and conclude if your hypothesis was correct or not.
The prime indicators for success will be the metrics you chose to focus on.
For instance, for the marketing email example, did engagement numbers appear higher? If the CTR, impressions, and click-to-open rates are at or higher than the 25% goal, the experiment would be considered one where the hypothesis was accepted.
Now that you know how to conduct a marketing experiment, let’s go over a few different ways to run them.
Types of Marketing Experiments
There are many types of marketing experiments you can conduct with your team. These tests will help you determine how aspects of your campaign will perform before you roll out the campaign as a whole.
1. A/B Testing
A/B testing is a popular marketing experiment in which two versions of a webpage, email, or social post are presented to an audience (randomly divided in half). This test determines which version performs better with your audience.
HubSpot’s email tool offers an A/B test feature for Professional and Enterprise users. Alternatively, check out 8 of the Best A/B Testing Tools for 2019 for options of other tools to help you perform A/B tests.
This method is useful because you can better understand the preferences of users who will be using your product.
2. Different CTAs
Experimenting with different CTAs can improve the number of people who engage with your content. For instance, instead of using “Buy now!” to pull customers in, why not try, “Learn more?”
You can also test different colors of CTAs as opposed to copy. Another CTA factor that I’ve been seeing around are ones that are animated.
To learn more about different types of CTAs, check out 8 Types of CTAs You Should Absolutely Try on Your Blog.
For a CTA-related marketing experiment, you’ll want to either use PPC ads or landing pages to insert your CTA . From there, measure relevant metrics based on your hypothesis and design of the button.
3. Animated Ads
As a big purveyor of GIFs in the workplace, animating ads are a great way to catch the attention of potential customers. Animating ads don’t necessarily mean using GIFs — you might also try small videos or ads with multiple cards, which can catch the attention of web browsers.
This Instagram ad from Buffer, above, uses multimedia to make their post pop. If you’re testing out PPC advertising, try diversifying those ads to capture the interest of more audiences. Additionally, you might run different types of copy with your ads to see which language compels your audience to click.
4. Social Media Platforms
Is there a social media site you’re not using? For instance, lifestyle brands might prioritize Twitter and Instagram, but implementing Pinterest opens the door for an untapped audience.
You might consider testing which hashtags or visuals you use on certain social media sites to see how well they perform. The more you use certain social platforms, the more you can iterate based on what your audience is engaging with the most.
5. Experiment Globally
If you post on an Eastern Time Zone (ET) schedule, run an experiment that involves Pacific or Central Time Zones.
You might even use your social media analytics to determine which countries or regions you should focus on — for instance, my Twitter Analytics, below, demonstrates where most of my audience resides. If, alternatively, I saw most of my audience came from India, I might need to alter my social strategy to ensure I catered to India’s Time Zone, as well.
When experimenting with different time zones, consider making content specific to the audience you’re trying to reach. If you’re trying to reach global audiences, why not post something in a few different languages? Alternatively, if you have international offices, you might spotlight different employees from your offices all over the globe.
Ultimately, marketing experiments are a cost-effective way to get a picture of how new content ideas will work in your next campaign, which is critical for ensuring you continue to delight your audience. For more new content ideas, check out our ultimate round-up here.