Facebook vs YouTube: The Scientific Method Behind Digital Marketing

The Scientific Method Behind Digital Marketing

Earlier this week I had lunch with another digital marketer. She began to list off the platforms where their brand had a presence and the ones she hoped to tackle in the near future. The sheer number of social and digital channels available is overwhelming to digital marketers at times mush less CEOs and SMBs whose daily duties include tasks beyond social media.

All of these options are why we’re finding so many SMBs outsourcing their digital marketing or small companies hiring a digital marketing specialist onsite. Large corporations continue to deepen their marketing department by adding videographers and graphic designers to supplement the strategy of their social and digital marketing specialists. 

As video continues its reign as the preferred content medium the options for how to present that video soars. Earlier this year HubSpot released a report about how changing from Facebook Live video to YouTube static video increased engagement and new subscribers.

As they say at the report’s end, their experiment highlights “the importance of questioning marketing trends.” 

We spend a lot of time studying marketing trends, but if you live in a rural area you already know not all trends affect all businesses the same. HubSpot’s experiment is a great example to all of us of how the scientific method we learned in eighth grade can be applied to digital marketing. (And you can remind your kids you do use what you learn in school.)

Step 1: Observation

In order to know something’s not working in a digital marketing strategy, we have to pay attention to the details. Trends, analytics, leads, and sales numbers all play a part in letting us know something is going well or not so well. In the case of the HubSpot report, the department recognized people were dropping off after watching two minutes of their video. While Live Facebook video views should have a higher reach than other content, theirs did not.

Marketing is never a fix it and forget it solution. We have to constantly pay attention to our goals and the numbers that are important to us as we reach toward those goals.

Step 2: Question

For HubSpot, the question became would YouTube offer better results. As in any scientific experiment, we need a reason for our experiment other than “ooooo shiny!”. What’s not working the way you’d like when it comes to your digital marketing strategy? Is it your delivery or the content? What’s your question?

Step 3: Hypothesis

I love that word. So full of possibilities. Before we start any experiment with a new media our expectation is that it will succeed, otherwise, why would we invest the time and money. But specifically what do you expect to happen? This might also be the place to discuss goals for the campaign. Our expectation could be specific engagement or sales numbers.

We have several clients considering direct mail campaigns right now. Our hypothesis is these campaigns will produce a specific ROI. We set those numbers up front to make the rest of the experiment make more sense.

Step 4: Experiment

Finally! After all the research and discussions we can launch our new media or series or graphics. Whatever the content, this is the part of the experiment that gets our blood pumping. We get to deliver an actual product for our client by launching the campaign. And our clients should begin to reap the reward of our work. Measuring your expected results also happens during the stage. Don’t get so caught up in delivering the new ads that you forget to set up a way to measure the results.

Step 5: Analysis

Did it work or not? I tell our clients we’re playing the long game in advertising. Businesses who work with us see results, but it’s not immediate. We’re building a sturdy foundation and that takes time. Don’t call a campaign a success or failure after the first day. Even with live video, it takes more than one day to know whether an idea worked. 

In it’s report, HubSpot wrote, “Some of our recorded videos began performing better than our live video, while being significantly easier for my team to produce.” Notice they didn’t say, “Immediately our video views soared.” It took time to see whether or not the new videos on a different platform would perform better. Give your new campaign time to work before you scrap it. 

Step 6: Conclusion

The marketing department’s hard work shines in this final step. Nothing feels better than showing people why your great idea worked as you expected. On the flip side, sometimes our ideas don’t work as we expect and we must own up to those disappointments. We’ve run Facebook ads with really niche audiences that didn’t garner the attention we expected or that cost more than we anticipated. We had to be honest with our client, but we don’t stop at what didn’t work, we look for why it didn’t work. What could we have done differently? 

It’s possible you’ll have time in your campaign to course-correct and pull a win from what started as a dismal campaign. Don’t try to hide the difficult beginning. Be honest in your report and talk about why your second try was more successful than your first.

Are digital ads and social content questions plaguing your business? We can help you fill the gaps between your question and conclusion. As an outsourced marketing department, you can put our knowledge and experience to work for you. Call for your free 30-minute consultation today.

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