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Why testing is strategic experimentation for sustainable growth

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Why testing is strategic experimentation for sustainable growth


Are you running tests in your marketing?

If not, you should be. If you are, you’re probably not getting the full value from your testing.

Testing is the single most powerful tool in a marketer’s toolkit. For too long, testing has been misunderstood and underutilized by marketers. 

If you want to determine which approach works better, testing is the obvious approach. Through experimentation, we can statistically prove which messaging, creative or page generates a better response and increased sales.

The power of testing isn’t limited to the tactical level. Understanding and applying testing at a strategic level will transform how you approach your marketing and can unlock the ability to drive consistent and predictable growth.

Testing is misunderstood

There’s a testing gap in marketing. The reality is most marketers have zero experience with testing and experimentation. And the few who know something about testing have learned about it second-hand, from blogs and videos.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with educational content that’s freely available online, but there is, unfortunately, a plethora of misinformation about testing. A quick Google search about testing will lead you to advice suggesting that a “good test” could be as easy as comparing a red button versus a blue button. 

Don’t fall for the trap. Testing is much more complex.

There are two big challenges with testing: deciding what to test and interpreting the results correctly. Both are essential, and many experienced marketers still incorrectly do one (or both).

Every test you run takes effort, resources and time. That means every test has both a tangible cost and an opportunity cost. In short, testing is expensive. 

To maximize the impact of testing, you must prioritize your tests, focusing on the experiments that will produce the greatest result in the shortest time. This is where deciding what to test matters—a lot.

Red or blue won’t do

Which is why testing random things or minutiae (like a red or blue button) won’t get you very far. Many marketing teams spend months “doing testing,” but all they’ve really done is waste time and money with little to no demonstrable results or insights.

In addition, understanding whether or not your test results are valid isn’t always cut and dry. Many factors can influence or affect the performance of a test, including other campaigns, messaging, seasonality and so much more.

Running tests is best practice in marketing. However, success with testing requires a strategic and scalable approach. Embracing test-driven marketing is the future.


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Don’t judge a test by its results

If you’re judging the effectiveness of your testing program based on results, you’re missing the point of testing.

The goal of testing, contrary to popular belief, is not to get better results; that’s a byproduct of good execution. The true purpose is gaining new insights into what works (and what doesn’t). 

These insights are far more valuable than results. They can be applied across all of your marketing efforts—current and future—to drive improvements. And they can shape and direct your marketing strategy.

From this perspective, every test generates value in the form of insights, even if it fails to produce a performance improvement. This should be reassuring because it reduces the risk and increases the return on investment (or “return on testing”).

The insights you gain from testing are most valuable when they can be applied to the widest areas of your marketing. Therefore, you must be testing areas that will generate insights that have the most significant use case based on your marketing. 

In other words, you need to figure out the strategic assumptions and questions that your marketing is facing and build a testing plan that will find the answers you need.

Set your themes

This inherently prevents you from testing small details and allows you to have the biggest impact in the shortest amount of time. Instead of running many unrelated tests, you can choose a set of “themes” aligned to your marketing strategy. Then your tests can support one or more themes which will help you validate and direct your strategy and implementation.

This is what test-driven marketing is all about, and it’s the foundation for agility in marketing. Where marketing strategy and experimentation intersect, you can rapidly and efficiently discover the right path forward, much like electricity following the path of least resistance.

It sounds great in theory, but it requires the support of leadership and a culture that can embrace a “test-first” mentality. This is a deviation from the traditional approach to marketing, where you would normally plan, execute and test. Testing must be a focus from the very beginning.

Developing internal best practices

If testing is about insights instead of results, you must capture them.

Document every experiment, including your idea, hypothesis and results, in a central repository which I call the “Book of Knowledge.” This is a shared destination for the marketing organization to collect, document and learn from the successes and failures of our experimentation efforts.

As a starting point, it helps to provide visibility into the tests being done and the insights learned. Making this visible to everyone, even outside of marketing, is the easiest way to spawn new ideas for tests that have the highest chances of success. 

It also serves as a capture point for new ideas which will form your backlog for testing. For example, the customer service department can contribute excellent ideas for tests based on their experience of interacting with customers daily.

Most importantly, over time the Book of Knowledge becomes a source of truth and insights—your internal best practices. The next time you launch a campaign, produce creative assets or write a headline, you can refer to the Book of Knowledge to see what has worked and what hasn’t. And you’ll know exactly what to do to have the highest chance of success.

Accelerating learning to drive rapid growth

Testing isn’t just about optimizing; it’s also about accelerating learning to drive rapid growth.

The key to growth in marketing is testing at scale. The faster you test, the quicker you learn. The quicker you learn, the faster you can invest in the right things to drive growth.

Testing at scale has been difficult, slow and expensive in the past. But not anymore, with new platforms like TikTok providing massive organic reach, it can take minimal production time and effort to get unlimited chances to find what works.

TikTok brand safety and suitability

TikTok is a test-driven marketer’s dream come true. You can test rapidly and at scale to discover hooks, headlines, messaging, creative, campaign concepts, sounds, etc. There’s no cost, no penalty for uploading multiple times a day and no limit for seeing how a massive audience responds.

In 2021, TikTok surpassed Google for traffic. If you’re not producing content on TikTok, now is the time. 

Navigating the maze of marketing growth

Today, marketers are captivated by the promise that artificial intelligence and algorithms will be an easy route to success. Alas, they are not the utopia we want to believe they are. 

Let’s be honest. In marketing, no one knows what will work. 

Achieving growth in marketing is like navigating a maze wearing a blindfold. It takes a careful and methodical approach to stumble down many wrong paths to find your desired destination and escape the disorientating array of potential options.

Success in marketing requires a consistent, thoughtful, and systematic approach to testing. We must experiment to find the path that works for us instead of trying to follow in the footsteps of competitors. And it’s imperative that we focus on insights—not results—that are documented, disseminated, and applied universally.

Growth will always be elusive until you embrace testing at a strategic level and use it to discover what works for your brand, solutions and audience.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

Tim Parkin is a consultant, advisor, and coach to marketing executives globally. He specializes in helping marketing teams optimize performance, accelerate growth, and maximize their results.
By applying more than 20 years of experience merging behavioral psychology and technology, Tim has unlocked rapid and dramatic growth for global brands and award-winning agencies alike.
He is a speaker, author, and thought leader who has been featured in AdAge, AdWeek, Inc, TechCrunch, Forbes, and many other major industry publications. Tim is also a member of the American Marketing Association, Society for the Advancement of Consulting, and an inductee to the Million Dollar Consulting Hall of Fame.



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MARKETING

How to Use UX Research to Help Your Company Grow: 3 Proven Tips

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How to Use UX Research to Help Your Company Grow: 3 Proven Tips

Who knows your target audience better than your team? Your clients themselves. Users with their demands, likings, and desires are mostly the voices that go unnoticed as companies seek to have a smooth user experience.

Having a good team’s commitment, enthusiasm, and hard work will not compensate for the gap in knowledge between what your customers need and what your team believes they will require.

User experience (UX) research overpasses this imbalance throughout the UX design process, making sure that your company ends up saving resources, expanding loyalty, and providing the best UX for each and every user. Discover more about UX research, its solid business importance, and what to test first.

How can organizations employ UX research?

User experience research focuses on ensuring that your customers have a pleasurable interaction while using your service or product. It is critical to consider UX research from the start of any project, as making changes later can be costly and time-consuming.

Here are some ideas for how businesses can perform UX research:

  • Ensure that you know who your intended audience is and what they require from your service or product.
  • Spend some time learning about the user journey — what actions do they take to accomplish a task? Where do they become perplexed or disappointed?
  • Data and feedback should be used to continuously enhance the user experience. Check your product or service with actual users on a regular basis and take note of their feedback.
  • Don’t start from the beginning. To get started, there are various off-the-shelf methods and digital options for UX research.
  • Ensure that your project has adequate resources.

Three useful practices in UX research

The UX research method plays an important role in your analysis. You need to consider the pros and cons of different techniques. For example, there are methods that are cheap and easy but can take a lot of time when it comes to analysis.  Another limitation is your available resources, which will dictate when, how much and what type of UX research you can do. We selected  a couple of methods for you that combine affordability and quality at the same time. Let’s take a closer look at each of them.

Usability testing

The process of evaluating a product or service by checking it with actual users is referred to as usability testing. Throughout a test, respondents will typically attempt to finish basic tasks while observers witness, listen, and take down notes. The goal is to pinpoint any design flaws, gather qualitative and quantitative data, and assess the person involved in overall product satisfaction.

Usability testing allows both design and development teams to discover issues prior to them being programmed. The sooner problems are discovered and resolved, the less pricey the modifications will be in aspects of both staff time and potential schedule impact.

UX survey

Among the most widespread UX research methods for gathering both qualitative and quantitative feedback from your customers is the UX survey. It assists you in better comprehending customer habits and determining what appears to work and what does not, allowing you to prioritize adjustments to your product’s UX.

UX surveys provide a cost-effective way for a SaaS business offering long-term growth to gather customer feedback and make data-driven judgments. UX surveys can help you identify conflicting points in your product’s UX design and provide you with the information you need to improve the user experience.

Session Recording

Session recording is a descriptive research tool that records website visitor surfing sessions in real-time, allowing you to observe the recordings afterward to gain a deeper visitor behavior perspective. It allows marketers to comprehend a user’s entire route on their website, which includes clicks, scrolls, and mouse movements, among other things.

Session recording enables detailed evaluation and study of visitors’ browsing activity, the realization of experience breakage, and the identification of friction sectors, which then aids in the repair of what is damaged and the optimization of UX, resulting in higher conversion rates.

Session recording records your users’ actual life cycle on your webpage so you can find out which parts of it lure them the most, pushes them deeper into the sales funnel or causes them to fall out, diverts attention from a page’s primary CTA, resulting in low sales, and so on. Such information allows you to make confident, data-driven strategic decisions.

What are the consequences of skipping UX research?

Companies recognize the consequences of bad decisions: lost money, time, brand image, and occasionally even the entire organization.

Trying to skip user research will frequently result in poor corporate strategy based on anything other than factual customer feedback, such as:

  • Preoccupation with fashion and design trends. Designers are frequently enamored with the newest trends and believe that if they do not implement them, they really aren’t in tune with the times.
  • Emotional commitment. Creators and product owners frequently allow their own emotions to affect their capacity to recognize where enhancements could be made.
  • Personal views. Many executives generate decisions based on deeply held values and allow their egos to take precedence over acknowledging user needs.

In the end, it is clear that implementing UX design can benefit companies in a variety of ways. In addition to increasing customer satisfaction and conversions, it can also contribute to lowering support and product production costs.

Moreover, satisfied clients are more likely to participate in favorable word-for-word marketing, which can support attracting additional business. As a result, companies that invest in UX design can anticipate seeing remarkable long-term growth.

No time to underestimate UX

In this blog we have considered a simple but important part of UX research. There are many other methods of conducting this analysis, but you can start with the basics. There is no need to doubt the importance and usefulness of UX research, so we advise you to start implementing it today!

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