The Importance of Experimentation in Optimizing your Campaigns

Think with Google just published a Sprint case history showing the sales bump from the “digital halo.”
That’s a marketing term that loosely translates to “everything that happens because of digital engagement doesn’t necessarily happen in the digital world.”  In Sprint’s case, digital sales from an increase in digital spend went up 22%. That’s great. Even better was the “halo” effect in-store, where sales increased 32%.

Increases are great, but the most important point the article makes is at the end: “Today’s environment calls for experimentation, not just optimization. The results of this experiment are shaping how we measure our marketing efforts, leading us to move to omnichannel metrics instead of channel metrics. It’s not an easy transition to make. What’s important to remember is that testing is where it all starts.”

We all feel the pressure to optimize, but the real meaning of the word is “save me money.” Efficiency driven C-suites and the urge for CMOs to secure their place at the big table increasingly push companies away from the vital need to just see what happens.

Not that there’s anything wrong with optimization, but as a marketer, you need to keep in mind that optimizing requires not just drilling down but also broadening out. And that requires a little risk.  Otherwise we become like rats in a lab, pushing the same button over and over again.  You might get the same treat each time, but you won’t get more than that.

Sometimes the strangest experiments lead to something great. We tried Yahoo in-mail once for the Yale School of Management. It was Yahoo’s beta into placing ad banners in the inbox of its subscribers. As a beta, it was inexpensive at the time, but what blew our minds was how successful it was at bringing in qualified leads. Yahoo for an Executive MBA program?  Hardly intuitive.

You have to keep finding new channels because the halo effect means only some of your consumers are where you think they are, doing what you think they’re doing. And “some” leaves an awful lot on the table.

So look at Amazon’s ad network, Facebook Audience Network, and keep your eye out for emerging platforms for anyone with an aggregated audience. Then commit a percentage of your budget to the unknown. At the least, you’ll learn something. And if you get zero results, you can always attribute the “halo.”