What tech companies can learn from bakers about digital marketing.

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Spend any time on Pinterest and you'll probably come across 'the ultimate guide to chocolate chip cookies' (from blogger Handle the Heat), which shows how small variations to a recipe affect the end result.  While the magical deliciousness of chocolate is certainly partly responsible for the 200,000+ pins the post has received, it's also proof of the great marketing conundrum; we all like things just the way we like them - but as businesses we don't always know what that is.

 

When developing a digital marketing strategy, businesses should also taste test.

So imagine you've planned your digital marketing strategy for the year and are ready to press go - can you really be sure your assumptions about how your customers will react are correct?

Tech businesses can use the same taste test method when it comes to gaining a better understanding of their customers and improving conversion rates through a technique a digital marketing agency might use known as A/B testing.

A/B testing is used to assess the appeal of a wide range of communication forms including direct mail, digital activities like banner ads, eDMs, website design and more by changing one variable at a time and measuring the impact. 

By testing the performance of each variation simultaneously against a control, the most successful version can be selected and used to optimise the performance of your marketing activity, both online and offline.

For tech businesses this can be a very cost effective way of making the most of the marketing that you're already conducting - such as traffic that is hitting your site through search, a regular eNewsletter or trialling a small sample or pilot in a digital marketing campaign without risking the whole marketing budget on the farm.

Depending on what you'd like to test, services like MailChimp and Google Analytics offer A/B testing as a feature, or you could use a specialist provider like UnbounceCrazy Egg or Optimisely.

 

So what can tech businesses learn from the search for the ultimate chocolate chip cookie to improve their marketing strategy? 

  • Start with a 'classic' recipe. By following basic best practice you will start with a marketing communication which should already perform well. This acts as your control, which you aim to improve on.
  • Consider a range of variables to test. What ingredients, techniques, tools and timing could affect results? Depending on your communication, variables can include the visual (headlines, calls-to-action, images or page design), timing (particularly for eDMs), attitudinal (privacy concerns, effort to complete contact forms) or the promotional (pricing, benefits or special offers).
  • Ensure you test a large enough volume to ensure reliability of results. One of the reasons you'd never bake just a single biscuit is that you need to be sure your results aren't an anomoly (That, and biscuits are yummy...)
  • Make sure your tests are conducted under the same conditions and at the same time to minimise the risk that another factor influences the results.

In summary, different 'recipes' will appeal to your customer base. By altering each ingredient of your offer and comparing results, you can refine your communication based on popularity, and see improvements in conversion rate and ROI.