Digital Marketers: It’s Time to Say Goodbye to Best Practices

Meet IMGE'S New Testing Program

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For too long, digital marketers have been content to let “best practices” guide their strategy.

2022 saw unprecedented frustration around political fundraising. At IMGE, we see that industry-wide slump as a challenge. It’s why we’re throwing “best practices” out the window in favor of embracing a massive new testing program.

It’s time to abandon the idea of a best practice that isn’t backed up by data. We’re rejecting “what’s worked before” in favor of finding what works for our clients, right now—and here’s how we’re doing it.

Let’s break down why.

“Best Practices” Are Old Approaches. Testing Allows Us to Explore Something New.

Let’s be clear about one thing: following best practices, overall, isn’t bad.

It’s just not the best strategy for an experienced digital marketer.

Best practices are good for establishing a baseline digital program. For those starting out in the field, learning the conventions of digital marketing is the fastest way to build basic competencies.

But simply executing against these same strategies won’t fix our industry-wide problems, because those are the old ideas that got us here.

For those marketers who want to take it to the next level, it’s time to stop imitating, and start innovating. Testing shifts our approach from “what are others like us doing” to “what engages our audience best.”

“Best Practices” Are One-Size-Fits-All. Testing Allows Us to Tailor Our Approach to Specific Audiences.

The digital landscape is more fragmented than ever. Your audience isn’t everybody: It’s a specific group of people with certain interests, behaviors, and motivations.

For political marketers, the coalition of supporters changes from candidate to candidate, and even from cycle to cycle.

It’s your job to find out what captivates your specific audience, not the entire Internet. While you can gain some insights from seeing what similar brands are doing, you can never really learn what drives your audience to engage without testing.

Here’s How We’re Approaching Testing at IMGE

We aren’t just testing to check a box. Our approach begins with identifying an issue or area needing improvement, hypothesizing a solution, and executing a test to support or contradict that hypothesis.

This approach threads the sweet spot between the two traps one must to avoid when setting up a testing program:

  • Testing too narrowly: Don’t get caught up testing tiny elements that don’t have much impact on conversions. Your 15th test of button color or subject line length is rigorously conducted, but won’t meaningfully drive your strategy.
  • Testing too broadly: Don’t just send two totally different pieces of content to see what does better. “Let’s test this” is not synonymous with “let’s try this.” You must define a hypothesis so you can understand what your results mean.

And our approach to testing is to think bigger than “what juices our KPIs in the short term.” We’re not here to test how high we can make our fake matching initiative before our supporters unsubscribe in frustration.

Instead, we’re leveraging our testing program to innovate new strategies for our clients that break out of the current trend of political fundraising treating donors like personal piggy banks.

Our tests delve deeper into why our clients’ audiences engage and convert. Are they driven more by positive or negative language? Does a stripped-down, personal appeal perform better than a slick, graphic-heavy send?

And Don’t Forget the Best Part about a Testing Program…

The best part about testing? There’s no such thing as failure.

Getting different or inconclusive results on a test doesn’t mean you failed.

You can gain just as much insight from results that differ from your initial expectation—in fact, those are often the most interesting results.

The only way to lose is by never testing any new ideas at all.

Join IMGE on Our Testing Journey

Since launching our internal testing project in October, we’ve conducted 268 separate experiments. Here are just a few of the results we’ve found:

  • For one client, we tested a new homepage pop-up modal from an embedded video clip to a value-add ask, and it drove a 189% boost in signups.
  • For another client, we tested adding an on-image CTA to their Meta acquisition ads and saw it drive a $0.10 lower CPA in a head-to-head matchup.
  • For yet another client, we tested an aggressive segmentation strategy that drove a 36% increase in revenue per mille for their newsletter content…while sending only 20% of the previous volume.

While we emphasize that all results are specific to each audience we’ve tested, we want to invite you to join us on our testing journey. We want to share what we’ve learned, and lead the way on building a robust testing culture not just at IMGE, but across our entire industry.

Want to join us? Let us know what you think we should test next here.

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