Experimental Marketing: Research & Strategy

Instructor: Lucinda Stanley

Lucinda has taught business and information technology and has a PhD in Education.

In this lesson, we will discuss the value of experimental marketing in the digital marketing environment. We will also look at a number of marketing strategies that can be used for marketing experiments.

Why Experiment?

'Joan, we need to increase our presence on the internet; get me a marketing campaign we can use!' This is what Joan's boss says to her first thing on a Monday morning.

Joan has been in marketing since she graduated from college in the 1970's. She helped create marketing campaigns for use in newspapers, magazines, radio, billboards, and even television, but she is a little anxious about creating marketing campaigns for use on the internet. She doesn't know where to start and she wants to do a good job. She's done a little research and has found something called experimental marketing research. She's learned that experimental marketing research is a fairly simple process of trying out marketing strategies to see which one works best. If she thinks about it in experimental terms, she will be creating a hypothesis (a strategy that may work to meet her objective) and collecting data. Once she has the data, she can analyze it to see if her hypothesis was correct. If it was and she meets her objective, that's great; if the hypothesis was not correct, she can move on to another hypothesis and try again. Joan realizes that she couldn't really experiment like that when she was developing campaigns for TV because each TV advertisement was so expensive and took time to create. If it didn't work, the company was out of a lot of money. In developing marketing campaigns using the internet for email, web site, and social media, the cost isn't as high so Joan can afford to try out a few different strategies. Let's take a look at some of the strategies she can employ.


Joan knows, from her experience with other types of marketing, that the most important part of marketing is to know what the objective is. Are they looking to retain customers, find new customers, or increase revenue? Once she knows the objective, she can think about strategies. Here are a few she is considering:

  • Humanize: Instead of showing images of the product, show images of people using or endorsing the product.
  • Design: Change one design element such as using a more vibrant color or an unusual typography.
  • Act: Change how the customer interacts with the content. For example, instead of clicking through to another page by selecting a link, they can play a game that takes them to another page when they win.
  • Animation: Capture their attention by using movement like an animated GIF of a cat licking its paw.
  • Message: Change how or what is said using a lighter tone or verbiage that makes the reader think. For example, use questions to get the viewer to consider how the topic is important to them.
  • Demographics: See if another age group or demographic might be interested in the product by marketing directly to them.
  • Time: Instead of always posting new copy at 10 am EST, try posting new copy at 10 am PST. There might be a different audience that responds.
  • Shareable: Create something that might help customers in their everyday life and therefore keep the company name in their mind such as a list of methods for cleaning stains off a sofa.
  • Hashtags: Use catchy hashtags; ones that are humorous or self-explanatory are best.
  • Mosaics: Assemble a variety of pictures as one can so that more than one element of the product can be viewed.

The key to any of these strategies is to focus on one objective, to be consistent with the message across all strategies, and to collect and analyze data to either prove or disprove the hypothesis. Let's see how Joan can experiment with one of these strategies.

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