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Posted by Karl Taylor on

What Do We Know What To Test?

Some of the more curious questions we get from marketers involve testing.

I’ve found this strange, in part, because I’m not sure I’ve ever once wondered why anyone would need help figuring out what experiment to run next.

A quick glance through Google shows me that there are quite a few resources like Gabriel Weinberg’s32 Fast And Cheap Marketing Tests You Should Consider Running.” There are even collections of results like the delightful “I Spent $30,000” (Justin Brooke) and this great classic on meaningful tests.

I’m not sure I’ve noticed too many places where anyone explores how you decide what marketing experimentation means for your organization. The truth is that at the end of the day, you’ve got to have those goals in place before you can effectively conduct any sort of marketing experimentation.

It may be a cliche, but if you’re letting those goals guide your work, they’re going to guide your research, too. Try and be cognizant of how this may affect what you’re looking at. Sometimes it might mean you need to look at a new technique or tool. In other situations, it may mean that you need to reevaluate your approach.

Next, you’ve got to find the big picture questions you need to have answers to. Perhaps you are testing a new design or experience and are looking to collect feedback. You may need to answer a question about product cyclicality. You might want to know who your customers are.

For example, if I really knew the customers of a client, I would have a list of customer profiles and email addresses. I could talk to each person individually, or I could make a list and buy TV ads and send postcards out until I heard from each one. I could also place ads on websites and in smartphone apps my customers frequented.

Regardless, without a list like that, I don’t have a real 100% answer to “who is your customer,” and that’s why it’s a great example of a big picture question.

Once you’ve got your questions written down, you should figure out how important each one is.

You should already have some idea of how important each question as you made this decision once before (when planning out your company’s purpose, priorities and values.)

This should be enough structure to fight even the most stubborn cases of mind-block. If not, this is a good time to explore the wilds of delightful ideas, hacks and tips that get added to the internet every day.

Pick the strategies and tactics that will lead you towards an answer to your question. If you need to prioritize further you have a few options. Two of the most straightforward: you can sort your list of tactics by resources required (time or money involved are two common methods) or you can try and figure out the most efficient way to finish the full set.

Once you’ve assembled a collection of tactics to help answer your questions sorted by priority, you should take a little time to make sure you finish your work.

This is particularly important as you are likely to discover new questions while you are conducting your research.

One of my favorite ideas was recently very well explored by Srinivas Rao who shares a tip for using a calendar to conduct research in “Why Calendars Are More Effective Than To-Do Lists.

You can use this approach to make sure you keep everything moving ahead on schedule.

This won’t always work, and there really are some problems out there that are going to take a lot more to solve than this sort of simple arrangement can allow for. That doesn’t mean it isn’t worthwhile.

I’ve found that over the last few weeks a similar approach has reduced interdepartmental friction.

One problem I’ve noticed on a lot of teams is that while the folks who work on the marketing may understand what is going on, it’s very difficult to communicate that information to individuals who haven’t had the chance to look at it.

There’s just something that gets better when you’ve put together an experimentation that everyone can understand.

Working from the foundation of shared principles means you don’t have to worry about buy-in. When the whole team knows what the experiment is at the outset, they know what sort of result to expect at the conclusion.

What Do We Know What To Test? was originally published in Observed Reflections.

Posted by Sonne Taylor on

I Wish Other People Could Find Your Articles, Too:

Something I Learned Today.

One of the rather enjoyable parts of my job (and I should know, I’ve written about it before) is that I get to spend a lot of time thinking about why people consume the media that they consume. Part of doing that in a way you can actually manage means building up systems that make it easier to sort through massive amounts of information.

One of the first tricks I learned when I started out working with smaller teams was that while every founder wants to run a brand with national reach, the truth is getting to that threshold is expensive. I think because it’s so great to celebrate the successes of others, there’s a lot more attention paid to the wins — makes them seem more common than they are.

It takes time. It takes an investment of resources. It takes persistence.

The truth is, it just doesn’t make a lot of sense for a lot of businesses to bother with it.

Tasty Medicine

So, I pulled a window of traffic recently, and I spent the better part of this afternoon updating our lists of media sources out of those offices.

That was a journey and a half.

I think the first thing that stood out was just how much great work gets produced by people who have no discernable internet presence. It’s really a shame, because articles like those are really bad candidates for aggregators. They’re like dead-ends for traffic.

The next big thing that stood out to me was just how cluttered some of these sites have gotten. Taking a walk through the landscape of traditional publishers and smaller regional outfits is like going on a tour of the last 20 years of ad tech.

If you’re really trying to load 20+ tracking widgets, the time has long come to look at tag managers. If I’m having trouble loading a site on a desktop with 16gb of RAM, I can’t help but wonder how bad it’d have been trying to get the news on my phone.

All told, I’m finding that it takes me about an hour to collect a state’s relevant sources. I’m averaging some things out. Smaller states and states with very consolidated media markets are much faster, intricate markets much slower, but the truth is that’s not unsustainable. That’s a good clip.

While I might like to think that everyone could take a day a month, I had one real advantage doing this I hadn’t thought about for today.

I spend most of my time maneuvering around media. I know where to look to find who wrote something and where to look to find out why. I know how to browse without a layer of adtech and how to zero in my search on what I’m looking for — but if I were just looking up a random thing, like say, what I needed to know about which infrastructure initiatives were getting prioritized or changes to a school board election process…I might not think to bring that context with me.

Nor would I think to go back and cite those events were I to conduct the search in reverse when I say, wanted to know why a certain candidate won and another lost…(to pick on that school board example.)

You can still spot places where someone is working hard (like say, C Jones Voiklis) and just hasn’t quite captured the attention it’s bound to. (I say ‘it,’ because I know exactly what % of each class at each grade school I went to across the country read “A Wrinkle In Time” and it’s a lot higher than this follower count would suggest.) But being truly “undiscovered,” really isn’t the problem for as many people as you’d think it might be.

If you’re producing great, local, relevant content you’ve got to think a little more broadly about how you put it out there. I picked a little on that school board race, but the truth is if you find yourself saying “no one cares about this,” you’re probably right about where you want to be and instead need to take a step back and look at how you’re distributing content.


I can find scores of readers online fired up about the race, and they’re just as frustrated that “no one is covering” the stories they care about.

It’s a shame really.

This really made me think a lot about something that happens with clients that ask for “SEO.” Many times, they’ve hacked together a collection of articles about a whole slew of keywords that they heard were important or related to their topic. Over time, the searches for those keywords have slowed down and traffic has suffered.

The trouble is, this happens with ‘real,’ words, too.

If you’ve ever called an “attorney” a ‘lawyer,’ or a “physician” a “doctor” (or even more tasteless or “ambulance chaser” or “sawbones”) just to watch the cringe you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.

The words people use in everyday speech are just different from the words they use in other contexts.

When you need information to cross those contexts, I think that means that somewhere, there’s a little bit of extra work for someone to figure out where a bit of information like an article might be most relevant.

I Wish Other People Could Find Your Articles, Too: was originally published in Fits About Prints.