All marketers can claim to be data-driven.
We know we need a strong, well-researched strategy, we know we need to A/B test, we know we need more than a passing glance at our social media analytics to know if we’re on the right track.
But do we actually do these things? Can we all, hand-on-heart, claim that our marketing processes are purely backed by data science and empirical findings?
As marketers, most of us are confident in our creative skills. If we are to believe that there is a spectrum from scientifically to artistically-minded, the majority of us will fall on the creative side. But we know that, particularly in marketing, art and science are not mutually exclusive. In order to be successful in this pursuit, we must straddle the line between the two.
Why we need science in marketing
In scientific experiments, particularly on humans, there is usually a placebo or a control group. These groups are monitored in the same way as the groups involved in the experiment and ensure that behaviour or results exhibited are not naturally occurring, and also act as a comparison.
The marketing equivalent of this is A/B testing, where two groups receive the same data or information with one slight change (to be measured). With all other variables identical, it’s easier to see the results of the change, and to see that other elements have not influenced the results.
But even in a situation with such isolated variables, the marketer needs to be wary of jumping to conclusions regarding cause and effect. You need to use scientific integrity to identify which results are causal and which are simply correlation or coincidence.
Theoretical physicist Richard Feynmann said of experimentation: “You should report everything that you think might make [your experiment] invalid – not only what you think is right about it.”
Often we are so keen to demonstrate the scientific success of our experiment that we ignore significant flaws in our methodology.
As Feynmann states: “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself – and you are the easiest person to fool.”
A marketing experiment is really no different to a scientific experiment – in both instances experimentation is about isolating the smallest set of variables, testing a hypothesis and repeating the process to see if the results can be replicated under the same conditions.
How to employ more science in your marketing
Marketing is not theoretical physics or molecular biology, but that doesn’t mean it can’t apply the same scientific integrity, attention to detail and analytical methods.
Perhaps you were expecting your A/B test to show a spike in web traffic, but instead it increased the ratio of men coming to your site over women.
This might not be the result you were expecting, but it’s still a result worth noting, studying and understanding.
Here are some of the practical measures you can put in place to take a more scientific approach to your marketing and data analysis:
- Examine the data your analytics present to you and look at potential cause and effect, eliminating anything coincidental.
- Check your marketing analytics daily and compare to previous days, months or even years if you have that data available.
- Look for trends.
- Try new analytical tools.
- Test every possible variable.
- Don’t be afraid of failure. Failing shows you are trying and testing every possible outcome, and it isn’t a waste of time if you learn from it.
- Be honest with your results.
If you’re interested in taking a new, more scientific approach to your marketing, talk to Axonn to see how we can help.