How to Use Scientific Principles in Your Marketing Campaigns
Updated: Jul 22
As technology continues to become an integral part of modern marketing, businesses of all sizes are realizing the benefits of using scientific principles in their marketing campaigns.
Since the dawn of marketing there's always been an unending crescendo of instruments and vehicles for our marketing campaigns. Some as ubiquitous as email marketing, and some more critiqued like neuromarketing. Regardless of the tool or methodology, the goal has always been the same: to enhance, modernize, accelerate, or supplement one or many aspects of our marketing and advertising efforts.
Nobel prize winner, Richard Thaler, described customer purchase behavior as 'predictably irrational', researching the many idiosyncrasies of buying decisions across cultures and social levels. Thaler's research, his colleagues', and their collective contributions to behavioral economics have sparked a world of research and scientific study on how humans make purchase decisions and how marketing & advertisement affects these decisions. Simultaneously, we have the ever-advancing world of marketing technology (MarTech), and more computational power than we know what to do with.
But how can you harness the power of these research insights, and modern day technology for your business marketing? Follow along...
1. Restructure your marketing campaigns through the lens of the scientific method
Taking a scientific approach to marketing goes beyond simple A-B Testing. In fact, the scientific method is complex and rigorous, requiring scientists to adhere to strict standards for research purposes.
In the world of business, however, we may focus more on the creativity and art of out marketing campaigns, and focus more heavily on the qualitative than the quantitative. Yet, the variables that we are able to control should be controlled and measured with as much exactitude as possible.
Why? because without effective control and measuring you can't experiment with what works and what doesn't work. Worse, you can't make important business decisions based on statistical probability.
Putting it to practice
Make sure you understand which areas of your business drive the highest ROI. Then, take a look at your retention and growth marketing campaigns, both online and offline, and see if you can track your customer's interactions with them through their buying journey. Use your CRM, marketing tools, telephony provider, and even insights from your customer service staff to gather data related to your customer interactions, and analyze that data with data analysis tools, like R-studio, or Jamovi. These analysis will help you draw meaningful insights from your data.
Once you have a good sense for what works and what doesn't, start altering your strategy one meaningful piece at a time. This doesn't mean change a font, or a sentence on your website and wait to see what happens; it means to observe what area/service/product of your business has the highest potential to earn the most revenue, and what linked piece of your marketing strategy is underperforming. Then making a hypothesis (based on your data) on what can drive the greatest results.
2. Segment as if you were running a cancer research trial
If you were conducting an expensive experimental trial for a new, potentially life-saving treatment, you would have to choose an experimental population that fits within your research guidelines. Even if you wanted to include every possible patient in your trial, you wouldn't be able to unless they strictly met the qualification criteria.
The same applies to your marketing segmentation. When it comes to understanding your customer, your business will only thrive if you select the most qualified customer for your business plan. The alternative is spending marketing dollars on customer who may never buy, or at best try your service/product once and never come back.
If you're just starting out this may be harder (although you get to experiment more), but if your business has a strong idea of what your customer looks like, it's time to take it even further.
Putting it into practice
First, make sure you have an actual (preferably physical) customer persona card. If you haven't created your customer personas, check out these free user persona templates from Adobe. It's extremely important you move beyond simple demographics for your customer personas and think about your customer psychographics – what makes them tick? why do they buy? etc. – and use those psychographics in your marketing segmentation.
Today's marketing tools have great ways to segment based on likes and dislikes, but don't forget to put yourself in your customer's shoes and really think about their buying journey. This will help you select the right segmentation strategy, and the appropriate marketing channels for optimal success.
3. Detach yourself from the research
Many scientists over the years have found themselves in a predicament when their experiments fail: to play with the data enough to ignore the mistake, or to accept that their experiment failed and move on.
The answer seems pretty straightforward when you see it from a scientific perspective. But how many times does this happen in business and we simply hope it all works out? Well, hope is not a strategy, and definitely not a business plan, so make sure to approach each of your marketing campaigns with the same apathy as you'd hope a scientist would.
For many marketers and entrepreneurs it is difficult to turn off or let go of a campaign that seemed promising at first. But not doing so (or not fixing it on time) may lead to significantly underoptimized marketing spend, at best, or damage to the brand and business at worst.
Putting it into practice
Every time you run a campaign – and hopefully follow a strict scientific method as outlined above – treat each campaign as a prototype. Use version names and take extensive notes on what the data looks like, and insights you've discovered. Most importantly, don't be afraid to be critical; even if you created the campaign, and poured your heart out on every single detail. If it fails, think about it as tuition paid for learning, and you move on to the next experiment.
How do you know when it's time to pull the plug? It will vary depending on your business and situation, but as a rule of thumb, if your campaign underperforms for over a month based on your KPI's, you need to either make changes, consider if timing is a factor, or shut it down.
Ultimately the best way to use science in your marketing campaign is to emulate the scientific process in both everyday activities, and large strategic crossroads. By leveraging the technology that's at your disposal you'll be able to collect data effectively and drive insights that will make your next campaign a success!