Experience is a double-edged sword.
On the one hand, you’ve been here before, so you know what do to.
But wait a minute, can you ever really “be here before?” As Heraclitus said, “You cannot step into the same river twice.”
Testing can help you overcome the rigid mindset experience can bring while leveraging your vast accumulated knowledge to craft well-informed hypotheses.
To inspire your next marketing experiment, read on for examples from a game streaming platform, software company, and auto tag company.
This article was originally published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.
“The more experience you have as a marketer, the less likely you can tune in to what it means to be a consumer,” said Flint McGlaughlin, CEO, MarketingSherpa and MECLABS Institute, in the below podcast excerpt.
One way to overcome this challenge is by engaging in marketing experimentation. So, in this article we bring you three examples of companies that ran marketing tests.
First, a game streaming platform that tested which channel would work best for its influencer marketing. Then, a software company that ran a homepage headline test. And finally, an auto tag company that discovered which Facebook campaign could produce the highest ROI.
Antstream Arcade is the world's first and largest game streaming platform for the iconic retro games of the past. The streaming service makes classic games available on-demand on any device. Players get access to over 1,000 video games from arcade hits and classic consoles, playable directly from the cloud with no downloads or installs needed.
Antstream’s focus is to reach a broad spectrum of the gaming population, from the existing niche retro gaming community, all the way to the casual mobile gaming market which accounts for the majority of the 2.8 billion gamers worldwide. To maximize its reach, while simultaneously growing its user base, it opted to focus on influencer marketing.
Gamers are an often hard-to-reach demographic and have proven to be largely resistant to corporate messaging. The scale and impact of TV and other traditional media no longer hold as much sway, with generations of digital natives consuming most of their media content through streaming. Antstream opted to go all-in on influencer marketing to meet with its audience on their own terms and engage with them in their own spaces – the only lingering question was over the best channel to invest in.
The company needed to find out which channel – YouTube or Twitch – offered the best influencer bang-for-buck for its specific niche. This was crucial given the decision to focus almost entirely on influencer marketing as a starting point.
“At Antstream, we see influencers as hugely important to our growth within the community. As a specialist marketer, performance attribution and data have always been at the core of our philosophy and crucial to our success. Developing a way to measure and track influencers and their impact on our business has been an obsession, which is in contrast to the way we should be using the channel,” said Brandon Keenen, CMO, Antstream.
Antstream tested YouTube against Twitch to determine which would be the best platform to focus on in the initial phase of its influencer strategy. While both platforms had their fair share of retro video game influencers of all sizes, it was assumed that YouTube would prove the best option – with lower cost CPMs (cost per thousand) and higher referral rates through key giveaways owing to its VoD (video on demand) focus.
For those unfamiliar with the gaming space, key giveaways are a commonly used tool to bring new users to a game, platform or subscription service that allows them to experience everything for free for a limited time.
The test was conducted over a controlled time frame of two weeks, with the same number of keys mailed to an equal number of streamers of comparable size across both platforms.
Creative Sample #1: Influencer live stream on Twitch
The result surprised the team, with a 500% increase in live streams and VoD views on Twitch compared to YouTube. While factors like Twitch’s core audience being more gaming focused undoubtedly contribute to this, the team was surprised to see such a deep divide between the two major video platforms.
The team thinks other reasons for this result may be obscured by the nature of YouTube’s algorithm. For example, Google may feel threatened by TikTok and has made adjustments to downgrade live views, which limited the reach of influencers’ streams in this test. There is also the fact that many streamers are happy to do live streams on Twitch, then uploading to YouTube later to maximize their own visibility. In these instances, greater visibility and engagement was available through Twitch, at the original source – which may be why it emerged as the clear winner for user engagement and video views.
With conclusive evidence, Twitch was selected as the perfect platform to begin influencer marketing in the gaming space. The audiences are highly engaged, and content creators are hugely enthusiastic about the platform as a medium which operates in a way that most traditional entities can’t. Ultimately it is designed for games and connects on a level that is different from YouTube.
From the starting point of finding a handful of small streamers (having thousands of subscribers) that are influential in retro gaming, Antstream identified potential brand ambassadors who believed in what they were doing as a business, and with a true passion for gaming. Diversity, inclusivity and passion are core tenets of the business, and connecting with influencers to represent Antstream in this way was of paramount importance to the team.
A new brand trying to create traction in a hugely established market is always going to be a struggle. But by focusing almost entirely on strategic partnerships with relevant streamers and testing to find the most impactful channel, Antstream has recorded 1,300% growth in 2021 since the start of its influencer program. From its most recent quarter of activity, over 250,000 new users were attributed to influencer marketing, store presence and direct response.
“Everything that we are looking to do as a brand comes through in our influencer program. We are always on the lookout for more ambassadors that live and breathe gaming. Ambassadors that love what we are doing and that are good decent people with a passion for life are always on our radar. We believe that with the right type of partner, the audience will get involved and the product will thrive. The numbers we are seeing are only the tip of the iceberg as we look to grow into the influencer space,” Keenan said.
When SpinupWP launched, its homepage’s headline was: “A modern cloud-based server control panel designed for WordPress.”
The team had a hypothesis that the website copy was too focused on the features of the product and in so doing failed to address customers’ needs.
“I wanted to test my hypothesis by changing our copy to describe what benefits our product offered our customers, in their own words,” said Brad Touesnard, Founder & CEO, SpinupWP.
To learn about what customers had to say about the product, the team interviewed existing customers and asked what they liked most about using it. One of the favorite responses was that the server was extremely fast and could be “spun up in minutes.”
“Based on this response, we came up with a new homepage headline: ‘Your Own Extremely Fast WordPress Server, Spun Up in Minutes,’” Touesnard said.
They ran an A/B test of the new copy versus the old. Everything else on the website was kept the same and only the copy changed. The team used an A/B testing tool to run both variations simultaneously. The test was allowed to run for one week.
At the end of the week, they saw that the new copy produced 14.6 percent more conversions than the old copy. “Our hypothesis had been proved correct and we adopted the new copy for our home page,” he said.
Absolute Reg is a personalized number plate supplier in the United Kingdom. “We did a lot of testing when figuring out what worked best for our Facebook ad campaigns,” said Jake Smith, Owner and Managing Director, Absolute Reg.
The team wanted to compare two strategies: to use a single photo for its ads or feature a short video. The testing took place over a period of one month. They used the single-photo campaign for two weeks.
Creative Sample #2: Photo ad on Facebook
They then ran the video campaign for the next two weeks.
Creative Sample #3: Video ad on Facebook
Everything else about the ads was identical. They wanted to see which one was more effective, and they found that the single-photo campaign brought in better results. It was straight to the point, giving viewers an immediate idea of what they offer.
In the end, the single-photo campaign resulted in a 200% ROI, bringing in triple the amount of revenue they spent on it. The video campaign had a much lower ROI at 53%. It cost significantly more to produce and made only half the sales compared to the photo campaign.
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