Operating in Today’s Digital Marketing Laboratory
This week the world comes together to celebrate that grandest of all holidays – World Laboratory Day! While college campuses and research institutions across the globe will no doubt be at fever pitch, the rest of the world will trudge along this week, blithely unaware.
Not least among those folks, I suspect you will find many modern-day marketing professionals.
World Laboratory Day? What, me?
Yes – you! And all of us!
Fact is, marketing as a discipline has become more of a science than an art during the last five to ten years. Not only are we marketing in digital environments that inherently give us troves of data and intelligence, but we are also being tasked with understanding everything from predictive analytical models to artificial intelligence.
Marketing in the digital age begs us all to act a little more like those scientists in the labs. The internet is our grand petri dish as marketers today. We get feedback and results for every action we initiate in the digital realm. Are we collecting and contextualizing that feedback? Are we taking that data, and interpreting it to move it along from being mere data to become information and then even knowledge that we can rely upon to make future decisions and investments?
Are we using the Scientific Method in our work? Surely, we have all the ingredients we need to employ it. That said, how many of us really approach our work within the shape of hypotheses and structured experiments to measure whether those hypotheses were correct?
This is an enormous opportunity before us as marketers. On one hand, the good old scientific method allows us to get constantly smarter about what works and what doesn’t in an innately murky field of business. On the other, it helps us make the case for the value of marketing in a way that everyone can understand.
So often, marketers are subject to what we commonly refer to as the law of “last touch attribution”. Last touch attribution is the tendency of most people to attribute the “credit” for the revenue or profit that comes into a company to the last person to touch the account. And of course, that person is typically in sales.
This is why we see companies hire sales when they want growth, as opposed to hiring Marketers. This is also why marketing is typically the first organization affected by cuts when business isn’t good. We still see these behaviors in a world where it is common knowledge that 70% of the buying process is already complete by the time a prospective customer has engaged with a person in sales.
So again – there is that Scientific Method just waiting for the modern marketing to take advantage of it to deal with a world rooted in last touch attribution.
When a marketer designs a program, campaign, or media strategy within the context of a scientific experiment, it also helps to demonstrate the value that they are bringing to the business. Simply setting up a control group to compare to a target group can help a good marketer begin to explain their value more articulately to the rest of the organization.
If the experiments work – and you are driving incremental growth in your test groups versus the control – you can tell the story about the growth you are helping to drive with greater confidence than ever before. If your experiments fail, you are still capturing market and customer intelligence that is also enormously valuable to the whole organization.
In either case – the scientific marketer is doing their job better.
So – happy World Laboratory Day! And enjoy your next experiment!