Are You in Control?

This post is part of a series on control groups.  The first post is here, a list of all posts in the series here

Mike Moran recently wrote about how Search Marketing is Direct Marketing.  I myself commented “the Web is a direct marketing machine” back in 2001 when most people hated the idea of PPC marketing and thought it would never catch on.

Most of the critical breakthroughs in optimizing online marketing have been based on direct or database marketing principles that have been around for decades.  In my last post on Control Groups, I said “the insights you will get from using controls will be mind blowing.  You will begin to really understand customer behavior, and that’s the first step to creating truly game-changing customer marketing campaigns”.

I have some examples for you.

Check out this list detailing some of those insights.  Sure, they are in the form of “mistakes” but they are insights nonetheless.  See 41 Timeless Ways to Screw Up Direct Marketing by Nicholas J. Radcliffe.

The interesting thing about this list is most of these mistakes can only be identified if you are using control groups; that’s how important the concept is to customer-centric marketing.    For some mistakes on this list, you will think to yourself, “How could they ever measure that?”

The answer is one you are familiar with: repeated testing, in this case over many different industries and using many different data sets.  But you have to add controls to the test or you won’t see the effects.

Many of these mistakes are things you hear the CRM / customer-centric / CGM pundits talk about all the time, stuff like talking down to the customer, over-communicating, or being intrusive.  But these same folks never offer any conclusive proof of the financial damage these acts can cause; it’s all “gut feel”. 

How would you like to be able to prove what the damage caused by reckless marketing is really worth?

Online marketers are currently making many of these same 41 mistakes – they just don’t know it yet.  #17 and #19 are going to be very disruptive when they become widely understood.  If you want to understand more about these mistakes, a specific example is here or for a broader framework to work from, see here.

But the real question at hand is this: Will you be a driver of the next level of achievement in online customer marketing by suggesting (and eventually requiring) the use of Control Groups?

In the final post of this series, we’ll touch on two challenges with the implementation of control groups.

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