It’s a strong statement. But since day one of joining the team of optimization experts at Brooks Bell, I have known it was a mission for our founder and CEO.
As a new employee, I smiled and nodded my head. As a marketer, I was a little shocked the first time I heard Brooks say those words. Eliminate the bullsh!t from marketing? What was she talking about? Was what I had been doing for all these years really full of crap? I had worked extremely hard during my career to make sound marketing decisions. I had spent hours delving into research, past experiences, talking to customers and employees, my marketing teams, industry experts, etc. I used every avenue available to me to ensure that the best marketing campaigns were created and implemented. There was no way the decisions I had been making were “bullsh!t.”
Then it hit me. She was right.
Looking back, I now realize that most of the decisions that marketers make—that I had made—were based too much on past experiences, intuition and gut instinct. Basically, marketing’s own form of bullsh!t. I’m not trying to discredit the many incredibly smart marketers out there. Frankly, I don’t want to discredit myself, either. We all work hard; we use our education, our knowledge, our experiences, teams and research to make the best marketing decisions we can for the companies and brands we work for. The problem lies with relying too much on our own experiences, and not on our users, customers and their experiences.
There is a better way.
Marketers cannot continue to solely rely on intuition and personal experiences to determine marketing practices for their company. The Harvard Business Review recently published an article stating that when asked, marketers said that “More than half the information they had used to make a recent decision had come from their previous experience or intuition about their customers.” The article continued, “On average, marketers depend on data for just 11% of their customer-related decisions.” The proverbial business playing field is constantly shifting and changing. The psychology and behaviors of our customers are drastically different than they were a year ago. Using what worked last time and gut instincts to build the foundation for marketing decisions isn’t always a valid—or affordable—option anymore. You have to also start building data and insights into your marketing arsenal.
Data can change you from a reactor to a predictor.
In general, marketing tends to be reactive. For example, say you discover that newsletter sign-ups on your website are falling steadily, so you have your creative team redesign the sign-up page. You launch it, then sit back and way to see what happens. The page doesn’t improve your newsletter sign-ups, so you start the process over. You become reactive to what your users are doing or not doing. Instead of taking this reactive approach; you can become a predictor. Data can give you insights into your users behavior. What page are users dropping off from? Are they bouncing immediately from the sign-up page? By evaluating the information, you can start to form educated hypotheses on what a user will do and create designs, messaging, user experiences and campaigns accordingly.
This isn’t an ‘either or’ situation. You don’t have to choose a side. Accepting the importance of data in marketing decisions doesn’t mean you have to abandon your experience, knowledge or intuition. The successful marketers of the future will be the ones that hone in on the data insights that can impact overall revenue goals and incorporate them into successful, comprehensive marketing strategies.
If you make data and testing a part of your every day decision-making process, win or lose, every experience and campaign will bring you closer to bullsh!t-free marketing decisions. And you, your marketing team and company will be the better for it.