Software development is influencing marketing a lot these days with the emergence of Agile Marketing and Test-Driven Marketing- Agile and Test-Driven concepts being two concepts that have dominated software development for the last 5 years.
The reason is not a fad crossing over, but rather a more fascinating and powerful phenomena. As the Internet has become pervasive in our lives Marketing has become testable, much like software, as well as more impactful due to the amount of reading buyers now do during the buying cycle.
Agile software development embraces change and measurement, allowing responses to “market” signals that are leading indicators of failure. Signals include early customer feedback, early robustness feedback from automated tests, and ongoing feedback from regression testing, which captures failures due to the landscape changing.
But so what, you might ask? Marketing has become testable. Whoop-de-do. I’ve been marketing for twenty years, and we’ve done just fine without testing.
My answer? Marketing mostly sucked from a customer perspective. And this was effective and professional because there wasn’t much other option. Marketing wasn’t sales, and sales was the group responsible for strongly targeting messages to buyers. Marketing was background support. Marketing didn’t have access to the customer mind, by message or by volume of content (diversity in customers makes available volume of content critical for targeted messaging), and as a result marketing was largely product focused.
That’s no longer the case. Where sales was once needed to deliver targeted content, buyers now look for the content themselves online. And if they don’t find yours, they’ll find someone else’s. Last generation marketing that was background to the targeted sales message is now leading in the foreground, and landing with a awkward thunk.
In the new marketing environment, we need marketing to work well or we’ll fail. The Internet has changed how we sell, and marketing does a lot more of the selling because that’s where the customers are- at their computers researching their own needs. Selling has become buying facilitation, and if marketing doesn’t step up and do more of this type of selling with relevant targeted messaging, failure is almost unavoidable.
The other massive influence in the new marketing environment is that we can now measure if marketing is working. Considering that we now need marketing to work, that is very good thing.
Inbound marketing, Internet lead generation and Pay-Per-Click advertising (PPC) all test marketing through conversion rates on multiple website goals such as newsletter signup, RSS subscription, Facebook fans, white-paper downloads, requests for a demo, successful multiple touches, purchases, and so on. There are literally hundreds of amazing measurements and tests that can be applied- either on existing data or on data created from intentional tests.
This is enabling marketing to be test-driven, and in complex markets, it’s providing the tools for marketing to become agile. This is exactly what happened in software- the focus on feedback from customers and tests enabled software development to become agile. Indeed, the concept of Agile Software Development was somewhat meaningless until the feedback mechanisms were there.
Marketing has become like software. You run it, test it, and it either works or it doesn’t.
The bottom line is that today we must sell with marketing, and we can now measure our marketing. These two incredibly strong influences have combined in a way that will fundamentally change the entire business world.
And that means we can start applying some of the same processes- agile responses to market signals, testing for user adoption, testing for relevance, and actually building our marketing collateral so that it is in fact testable.
If you think marketing automation and automated lead nurturing are a fad, you better have lots of brand equity to ride on. Because if you don’t, you are not going to be able to build it in this brave new world.
For more on this topic, I recommend checking out some of the new wave of marketing automation vendors- Marketo, Manitcore, Eloqua , MarketBright or Hubspot, as well as the Analytics vendors such as Google Analytics, Yahoo Analytics, and Omniture and see what they are saying.
And if you are convinced and want more details, or unconvinced but open to the possibility, subscribe to this blog via the Test-Driven Marketing RSS Feed or subscribe with the simple email subscription form over there on the right sidebar. Our next post, Is Sales Becoming Marketing Technical Support?, goes deeper into the changing roles of Sales and Marketing.