To stay competitive, you must move at breakneck speed. Especially in saturated markets.
You need to be experimenting with new trends on social media. You need to defend your top SEO rankings. You need to hone your messaging.
Most importantly, you must test potential new features, channels, and mediums to ensure you’re spending your time on the right things.
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Many of us subconsciously discount our ability to do that. We feel we don’t have the time, energy, or ability to experiment and pivot quickly.
But the fact is, some of those roadblocks may not actually be real.
There are ways to move faster, and by the end of this post, you’ll gain tactical tips on:
- How to test more things faster in your marketing
- How to make sure you’re testing the right things
- 5 things you should be testing right now
Testing more stuff faster
The first thing you need to do is get a notepad and write down all the reasons why you feel you and your department can’t test new things.
There are three really common answers to this: time, budget, and expertise. But 85% of all the reasons you don’t test new stuff are made up (just like that 85% number).
And when we write down the things keeping us from testing, we get an opportunity to look at them individually and determine whether they are actually roadblocks.
If you’re stuck on time, you can make time by not doing something, or you can find a faster way to do what you think will take you forever. Maybe that’s delegation to another team member or buying a tool to help you.
The same options exist from a budget perspective. You can make budget by not doing something, or you can find a way to do it more inexpensively or for free. Perhaps you get a relatively cheap offshore assistant, simultaneously saving you money and time.
Lastly, there’s an explainer video for everything on YouTube, from cutting an onion to building an airplane. So there’s a chance you can find out how to do something if you really want to.
How this works in practice
Now, I’m very aware that it’s easy to say, “you can get more time by just doing fewer things,” and it’s different to actually do it. So let’s look at how this could work using a marketing example.
Say you’re trying to make a user-generated content (UGC) ad. If you’re unfamiliar, this is any influencer with a phone pointing it at themselves and talking about a product or a service. Thanks to TikTok, Instagram Reels, and YouTube shorts, these are big now, and we see great results from these ads.
You could turn creating and testing UGC ads into a big thing. You could say, “I don’t have a DSLR camera,” or “I can’t hire an actor,” or “I can’t film in a studio.”
But what if you were the subject of the ad and filmed yourself saying something for 30 seconds to a minute? You definitely have time to do that, and it requires basically no budget.
Some wonderful resources can inspire you if you don’t know how to make a UGC ad. For instance, TikTok publishes a library where you can sort the best-performing ads by conversion, reach, and click-through rate. You can even filter them down by industry to get more ideas.
If you make a UGC ad yourself, you’re not blowing up your budget. You’re not spending a ton of time testing different options. Instead, you’re just taking 10 minutes to make a video to see if spending more time and effort is worth your time.
This method can work for virtually everything — podcasting, blog writing, video production, ad format testing, and landing page copywriting. Take yourself through this series of questions for each potential initiative:
- Do I need as much time as I think to do this?
- Do I have to pay someone?
- Are there resources that can help me?
- Can I delegate it?
And don’t forget about C.A.S.E. — Copy And Steal Everything. Of course, you can’t plagiarize someone else’s content, but if you see an ad for a competitor or a similar product that makes a lot of sense to you, repurpose their format, timing, and intro language for your product. That will eliminate the whole creative cycle.
Test the right things
One of the biggest pieces of analysis paralysis is figuring out what to test. But don’t worry, I have a framework for that too.
When you’re trying to figure out what to test, consider these categories in this order:
- New features
- New channels
- New mediums
When thinking about new features, start with what you already know works. If Facebook is 80% of your media spend because it produces quality results, great. What else have you not yet taken advantage of? Maybe it’s UGC ads. Maybe it’s a new setting like Advantage Plus.
If you already trust the medium and the audience you’re targeting, you’re more likely to have success. Plus, implementation will be less effort. You probably have someone operating within that platform already. They don’t need to learn an entirely new workflow; they are just building one more campaign.
After you’ve made your features list, it’s time to dive into new channels. The best channels allow you to repurpose assets and content so that all you have to figure out is targeting and budgets.
The furthest thing away from the known into the unknown is entirely new mediums. If you’ve never done a podcast before, try it. If you’ve never done videos before, try it. Augmented and virtual reality are becoming popular, and direct mail (weirdly) is coming back.
Success on a new medium could give you the biggest splash because they are so different from what you’re actively doing. But they could also do nothing for you, which is why they’re the riskiest and at the bottom of the list.
What to do with your list
Now you need to prioritize stuff to test — starting with what you can do right now with what you already have. What you have could be your team, equipment, software, or assets.
Move on to the tougher stuff after you’ve exhausted that list. Typically, you’ll run into a roadblock here, but there are always ways to resolve it.
For these, I recommend doing a “minimum viable test.” So if you are interested in podcasting, try being a guest on someone else’s podcast first. You might not even like it, and it’s worth knowing that before you invest time and money into making your own.
How to run your tests
The exact process for testing is simple:
- Write down what you think will happen
- In terms of principle (goal) and volume (a metric)
- Find a way to measure it
- Report on the outcome
First, form a hypothesis about the thing you’re testing and record the outcome of that test — just like you would in third-grade science class. When forming your hypothesis, ask yourself questions like:
- Who do you expect to target?
- What response do you expect to hear?
- What do you think will happen in terms of engagement?
- How will results compare to similar metrics from other channels or platforms?
Next, measure your results. They can be qualitative or quantitative but should clearly show whether or not a test worked. Track things like:
- Lead volume
- Conversion rate
- Market response
- Lead to close rate
- eNPS score improvement
- Target audience coverage
A little bit of discipline goes a long way here. Most people think they know what will happen and don’t take the time to analyze the outcomes. I suggest making a simple spreadsheet to indicate what you tested, what you expected, and the results you saw. Your test results should give you an indication of the new things you should continue pursuing.
5 things to test right now
There are five popular things that we are testing right now — for ourselves and our clients.
1. UGC-style ads
We already discussed UGC earlier — these ads are lo-fi, 9:16 ads that ooze authenticity, vary heavily in style and subject, and follow the latest trends. Facebook and Instagram favor UGC ads. They’ve gone out of their way to promote UGC at performance marketing summits and in documentation to compete with TikTok.
Most are easy to film with an iPhone or an Android camera. They’re low-budget and not held to a strict brand standard. You can display them like any other ad.
2. Branded content
Branded content is a latch onto UGC-style ads. Instead of just sharing the ad like you usually would, you display it through an influencer’s profile.
You see this a lot with influencer marketing companies like Athletic Greens. It’s their entire marketing strategy.
Creators seem like they’re talking to fans about a product they like. But at the bottom of their story or post, they have the words “in paid partnership with Athletic Greens.” This type of influencer marketing can be super powerful — we’ve found it generates 20% more leads at a lower cost per lead.
3. LinkedIn Document Ads
We all know the eBook playbook: You put a landing page up, you put a form on it, you tell people about the eBook, and then only 2% of them download it. But LinkedIn is flipping that paradigm on its head with Document Ads.
Instead of keeping the eBook’s contents vague or secret, you can upload a PDF and let users see your eBook’s most valuable, engaging pages. You’ll leave them with a CTA like, “Fill out this form to unlock the rest of this eBook.” They fill out the form, and the download starts right then and there — no need to take them to a different landing page.
Document Ads get you more eyeballs on the content you worked so hard to create and allows you to collect lead information.
4. Try 1 new platform
Putting your content on different platforms can be a great way to expose your product or service to new audiences. And luckily, a lot of things are transferable.
If you’re doing Instagram Reels, you could transfer that content to YouTube Shorts or TikTok.
Think about other avenues, too. For example, TV ads used to be hard to break into, but platforms like tvScientific have dramatically lowered the barrier. Today, you can get ad content onto streaming services like Paramount Plus and even retarget people on other streaming apps.
5. Try 1 new medium
If you want to try podcasting, listen to and be a guest on a bunch of podcasts before you make your own.
One thing we’re trying is video sales letters. We’ve made some fantastic 20 to 40-minute videos, and they’re working better than any short-form landing page we’ve ever had.
Direct mail seems way old school, but it’s strangely coming back. Today, you can use vendors that will automatically send one-off direct mail if someone fills out a form with their address on it. That way, you don’t have to store a huge inventory of pamphlets or postcards but benefit from extra brand recognition.
Test, test, and test again
If you take away one thing from this post, it’s that where there’s a will, there’s a way.
You have time, budget, and skills to try new things — especially on a small scale. Staying focused on doing the most informative tests in the least amount of time with the least budget will help you boost your performance and efficiency. I’ve seen it work in our organization and know you can do it too.
If you want more digital marketing advice on anything from budgeting to lead quality, to Google Analytics, to TikTok, watch some of our previous Growth Clinics on YouTube. While you’re at it, sign up for our next Growth Clinic. We host them every Wednesday at noon ET.
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