The True Value of A/B testing is “D”: Data-Driven Optimization

As marketers delve deeper into mobile marketing realm, one that’s filled with high expectations and equally high levels of uncertainty, the true value of A/B testing becomes clear with “D.”

D stands for "data," as in data-driven optimization.

Marketers armed with data that tells them what works and what does not in the mobile moment can also answer a lot of the non-mobile marketing questions that keep them up at night:

  • How do we optimize all of the channels within our broader marketing strategy?
  • Besides fine-tuning our open and click-thru rates, how can we increase the effectiveness of our already-powerful email marketing program?
  • How do we add some oomph to our social media campaigns?
  • How will we know when it's time to abandon some of our legacy marketing channels? Are catalogs and direct-mail campaigns still resonating?
  • How do we measure and prove the return on investment (ROI) from our marketing efforts?

And in response, we say: "Bring on the "D."

Measuring and proving ROI across all marketing channels requires data, mobile is no exception. In fact, if the mobile channel does one thing extremely well, it delivers data. Once it's captured and analyzed, mobile data can inform the entire marketing strategy in ways that have not yet been possible for other channels.

The ROI Expectation
All marketing initiatives, whether staging a one-time event or managing an email campaign, have some sort of ROI expectation, based on pre-determined key performance indicators (KPIs). How much foot traffic did an event create? Did an email campaign produce more website traffic, downloads, conversions and new sales?  

Unfortunately, some marketing channels do not create a lot of associated data, making ROI quite hard to measure and prove.

But the smartphone – even though it's the newcomer within the marketing strategy – is also the channel that generates the most data. Given its proliferation today, it also often acts as the first point of customer contact with brands, a critical component of the larger marketing strategy. The capture of mobile data begins as soon as consumers use their mobile devices to interact and engage with brands – each click, sign-up, download, purchase and more.

The subsequent data that flows into the mobile platform enables marketers to measure activities and results immediately: which types of content and offers consumers engage with, when they engage, how they engage, what they do when they engage – and what they ignore. That's the entire premise of A/B testing – comparing content to see which performs better, and tailoring content to optimize its effectiveness and maximize ROI.

According to Swrve’s CEO, Christopher Dean, "It's crazy to invest deeply in engagement and retention campaigns until you've done the basics around app experience optimization.  There is no amount of engagement and retention marketing that will overcome a poorly optimized app experience.  Brands need a platform and a company that anticipates and has solutions, processes, best practices and a customer success team around app optimization AND engagement, retention and monetization – it's the best practice."

Mobile Data: Use it, Infuse It
When rich mobile data is infused into other marketing channels, marketers can start to see the ROI magic happen.

They can begin to link specific marketing activities to business results: greater foot traffic, higher sales, increased basket size, rising revenues, more cost savings, more website visits, more downloads, fewer cart abandonments and other KPIs.

Take email campaigns as an example. In consumers' personal lives, email has taken a back seat to texting, social media and chat capabilities as a primary form of digital communication. But in the enterprise world, email remains a powerful tool. It doesn't require instant engagement, yet is always there waiting for a satisfying encounter when the customer is ready to engage. Some brands have spent the last decade optimizing their email marketing systems to the hilt.

Now, with mobile data, marketers can take email optimization to a whole new level. They can measure the impact of email campaigns kicked off in the mobile channel vs. those that launch only from the email platform.

They can measure and track in-app offers' ability to trigger a new customer journey, or monitor the results of an email drip campaign that's triggered by an in-app offer or social media solicitation. Mobile campaigns with geo-location capabilities can measure footfall - foot traffic and app engagements before, during, and after the point-of-sale.  

Almost all marketers today know they need a solid mobile strategy and metrics to prove what works. Mobile data can serve as a positive reinforcement to do more of what works, and to fine-tune what doesn't work to deliver better results. Data can be powerful, reassuring, and it can create the metrics that marketers need.

So next time the conversation turns to ROI and KPIs, don't forget the value of "D" in the equation.