Oops emails, TBD subject lines, sending messages to the wrong segment, sending notifications at the wrong time – even the most data-driven marketer is going to screw up sometimes.
Embrace the mistakes, said Spencer Burke, VP of growth at Braze, speaking at the MAU show in Las Vegas on Wednesday.
“It’s not something you need to sweep under the rug and pretend never happens – there’s actually a lot of opportunity that can come from it,” he said. “In a funny way, the more data we have, the more we can understand what the imperfections are and also the successful side of marketing.”
Take Ebates, a shopping rewards and rebates company, which used to run its app-exclusive promotions on Mondays as a matter of course. But then the marketing team decided to switch things up a bit and test sending out the promos on a Sunday.
Problem was, said Amol Sogal, senior director of mobile product at Ebates, it didn’t occur to anyone that the Sunday designated for the experiment was also Super Bowl Sunday. Hardly optimal conditions for a day-of-the-week comparison test.
“No one would think that you’re shopping on your device while eating nachos and watching the game,” Sogal said. “But we learned that is absolutely not true – a lot of shopping happens at halftime.”
Sogal and his team parlayed their flub into a fully-fledged marketing program – a successful Super Bowl flash sale that runs – on purpose – every year during the halftime break.
Despite the marketing industry’s received wisdom, missteps can be fortuitous, a chance to learn something new or question accepted beliefs.
“I’m really surprised by how much tribal knowledge or marketing best practices people are still abiding by when we have the technology to actually be testing these things in increments,” said Rebecca Nackson, director of growth services at mobile design and strategy agency Prolific Interactive.
Back at Ebates, the mobile marketing folks had noticed over the years that app users seemed to demonstrate fairly predictable shopping behavior, so push notifications were always sent in local time and within a specific window.
But one time, the team sent its message out way later than normal by mistake. Ebates didn’t expect people to respond – yet they did. The late-night push notification performed, and it was an aha! moment.
“It’s not something we would have intuitively thought,” Sogal said.
Armed with this nugget of data combined with its historical data, Ebates now thinks outside the box when it comes to timing its communications. Sending a diaper offer at 11 p.m. might actually make the most sense, for example, because that’s when parents finally have a few moments to themselves to check messages after a crazy day.
“It’s how do you make a mistake and turn it into something meaningful and more data driven?” Sogal said.
A big part of that is being open to testing new things that go against previously-held notions.
Alex Weinstein, SVP of growth at food delivery company Grubhub, for example, scoffed when his paid media team suggested testing ads on TikTok because TikTok users are generally young and don’t necessarily have disposable income … right? But Weinstein decided to try the ads in a small test and the results were unexpectedly great, he said.
“Keep changing those assumptions on things you think are very core to your marketing mix today,” Weinstein said. “Challenge yourself to run as many experiments as you can and measure every single one of them.”