True Confessions of a Digital Marketer #6: “I don’t want to make million-dollar bets on 6-8 people”

As a former CMO, I’ve seen and heard a lot of unique (and some downright crazy) marketing techniques along the way, and “True Confessions” is my way of sharing it with all of you. Like all good legends–marketing or otherwise– there’s always a mix of truth, exaggeration, outright fiction, and just plain wishful thinking. We’ll let you decide which is which below.

Question for you: Who makes the critical marketing decisions in your company?

A) The freshest-minted middle-management MBA there
B) The Marketing Director
C) The CMO
D) The one with the best title or paycheck in the room (we call them HPPOs)
E) Strangers who have no stake in the inner workings or politics of your company

Let’s just get A-D out of the way: clearly everyone there is coming from a tainted, self-interested viewpoint. Everyone (and marketers know I mean EVERYONE) thinks they know better about marketing. Sure, they mean well; but it’s likely that their viewpoints don’t represent those of the true visitor or customer. Even if they do have solid ideas based on knowledge of the market and customer (yes, often CEOs and Sales teams actually do), those are ideas, not proven methods.

Option E is so pure, so wholesome. They just want to help. Not to mention get that $100 gift card for their two hours in your focus or user testing group. Oh, and will you validate their parking?

We all know how it goes: marketers waste- uh, I mean spend- millions of dollars on either a hunch, or their agency’s belief, or even the highest-paid person in the room. Or, the same set of tried and true customers that we know will provide feedback. And more specifically, the sympathetic kind we want to hear. #echochamber

Some of us try focus groups or user testing, and they do have value, but they are generally based on a small number of participants. With eight or ten people, you can definitely unearth helpful usability issues, like when six out of eight of them couldn’t find the red button on the red background, or their over-40 eyes couldn’t read the text your 28-year-old coders made too small. But seriously, are you going to base your entire web page design (with all its attendant approval time, coding, and launch to live traffic) on a dinner party’s worth of people? Really?

This is “user research.” This is what we stake our next quarter, year, and yeah, ok, performance bonus on.

We can do better, people.

User testing and A/B testing are great when you’ve committed to a course of action and want confirmation from that handful of folks that you’re on the right track. But there are several limitations here:

· There’s a wide yawning chasm between research/user testing and A/B testing. And in both these cases, you’re paying for qualitative information, not quantitative proof that something is valid or successful. So you’ve basically gone to market with a lipsticked pig: a subpar page that doesn’t solve anything.

· Each foray is a capital-C Commitment that requires time and effort to do, from full coding to approvals. That means you can’t get too crazy, groundbreaking, or creative. You can’t switch things out on the fly. You can’t test sudden hunches. You can’t test multiple new pages, only elements of existing ones.

· It’s great for fine-tuning stuff that a visitor may trip on, or that are blatant off. But it won’t give marketers the validated insight about what is working and isn’t.

· Let’s not forget that most marketers will hedge their bets and redirect only the barest minimum of population to the challenger page. That lengthens the runway to higher conversion if that page is a hit.

Happily, all these things are issues that WEVO’s pre-live testing can solve for. It fills the yawning gap between A/B testing and user testing/focus groups. You can change things based on your target audience in days (not weeks)… and before you launch. You get the actual feedback and thoughts of 150+ people who match your target audience, which gives you a heck of a lot more confidence that what you do eventually launch has a high probability of success. It’s a safer, cheaper and safer bet. And it provides a pretty gosh-darn accurate prediction of how well your campaign or page will do.

So before you invest in facilitators, stale pastry, and sad fruit salad, or, start snoozing through hours of video or transcripts, get WEVO involved. WEVO not only exceeds expectations in pre-live testing, it also does the heavy lifting and generates synthesized analysis and recommendations, so you can get to better conversion, faster.

About Janet

Janet was the first CMO of Constant Contact, and part of the team that created much of what is known as inbound marketing today. She has also held leadership marketing roles at what is now 3M MicroTouch and HP. After creating HSG, a product and marketing consulting firm, alongside fellow entrepreneur Nitzan Shaer, they soon realized that market research is long, expensive, non-actionable, and does not work at the pace of digital marketers. As a result, they created WEVO – the first company to optimize website experiences before going live. WEVO uses target audience testing to diagnose web pages without the need for live traffic. With actionable, validated insights, WEVO enables you to pinpoint reasons why customers aren’t converting, empowering marketers with a low-risk way to uncover why people take action.

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