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When it comes to marketing, I’ve heard many people say they “tried [blank], and it didn’t work.” But most of the time, it seems a marketing channel went untested. Spending $150 on Google ads driving haphazardly chosen searchers to a website’s home page isn’t a fair test. So what constitutes a fair test in marketing?

To test anything, you must first define what is being tested. For a new marketing channel, this means framing what it is supposed to accomplish over a given time and budget. The components (time, budget, and accomplishment) must be reasonable. You cannot say make a million dollars in a week with a budget of $0.38.

For a new (to you) marketing channel, consider just looking directionally, to see if it will drive ANY sales. But even with that early goal, you’ll have to have a reasonable budget. Starting with a number of minimum impressions is a good way to frame tests for paid media.

For example, estimating the cost to reach 10-20k impressions on Facebook will give an idea of the needed budget. If you have no experience making ad creative or setting targeting, keep the accomplishment limited to a direction; did the ad create forward movement.

Working with someone who knows what they are doing regarding a given marketing channel may save on the learning curve, but experimenting and optimizing are part of marketing.

Organic marketing channels will take longer to test, and expediting those tests may ironically require an advertising and promotional budget. Let’s look at Instagram as an example; nothing will happen if you upload one image promoting a sale to a new account. That is not a fair test of Instagram.

Like paid channels, organic efforts have to be tested with a goal, time, and budget in mind. In my experience, branded Instagram’s are not great direct conversion drivers for most businesses. But Instagram is a place to remind customers that a brand exists.

Push ROI doesn’t offer organic Instagram management, only some limited influencer marketing and paid advertising. I’m not an expert at building out Instagram accounts on the content side. However, ideas like paying influencers for shoutouts, running ads, and if you have physical locations, promoting social media in that space are tried and true.

I’m better qualified to explain the process for organic YouTube, so I’ll use that in an attempt to give some guidelines for testing organic marketing. You’ll likely need to regularly upload non-commercial content if you want organic success. So the rules of thumb here are:

  1. Produce at least five videos that are engaging and/or informative
  2. Release those videos weekly
  3. Promote them using every other channel that you have (Twitter, Email, Facebook, website)
  4. Consider using an ad budget to promote each video

After that test, will you be sure if YouTube doesn’t or could not work for a brand? No, but a test like this should provide learning and insights that can help you decide if you want to keep pushing the channel.

I’ll note for the record that the Push ROI YouTube channel breaks all of our own rules. Our videos are uploaded randomly, and the only tests of paid or social media we’ve used have been tactical tests to see if something would work for our clients.

This article is adapted from the below video.

Photo by Roman Mager on Unsplash

Mason Pelt