Using Test-Driven Development When Creating A Content Marketing Strategy

When deciding what direction to take our marketing, it’s easy to become distracted. The ideas start to roll in, they all sound great, and before you know it you have 3 promotions going, 4 different marketing mediums in place, and a handful of new ideas for future products.

If you’re really lucky they are all successful, but you might think about talking to your doctor about the possibility of you having ADD. I’m just kidding. The point is, we all get excited about our businesses, but it can be easy to overdo tasks like marketing.

Unfortunately, for most of us this level of activity only results in failure. Even our good ideas will fail because we were not able to put the right amount of time into them due to all of the madness we have created.

How do we keep the above scenario from playing out?

Well, part of the solution is something I talk about all the time: Analytics. And no, I’m not talking about Google Analytics (GA). No matter what your business is, you need to have some form of data capture in place. That way you can more easily identify when your plans have become a disaster waiting to happen.

That is how I operate for my clients here at Hat Rack Media. Almost everything I do can be quantitatively measured to show whether or not I made an impact on their bottom line. Did sales go up? Did more client leads come in? Did their customer-to-acquisition costs go down?

How low can you go?

The metrics don’t even have to be high-level stats; maybe we are looking at smaller productivity criteria. Did click thru rate (CTR) go up? Did organic (search) traffic increase? Did email signups increase? That is why goals are important. Without goals and data, we won’t know if what we are doing is working. But there is something else even more important we can do: We can build our marketing and sales processes in an optimal way, where we put in the least amount of work (input), and get the most results (output).

So how do we stay on track?

I’m going to use a software development process as an example (I promise it won’t be too technical).

This will help emphasize the importance of goals in the building process. When a developer builds a website or piece of software, one of the things he or she has to do before handing it over to users is run some tests.

There are a couple of ways to do this. A lot of people test modules as they go along. Some developers test at the end by creating small tests to evaluate their software’s functionality. But there is another way to test software, and it’s also the way I test my digital marketing strategies. It’s called Test Driven Development (TDD).

With TDD, a developer will build the test to prove a function before they write any code.  In order to define the product of the test, the Dev must first know what the goal is for that test.

The benefit of this method in the world of coding is that it usually produces the smallest amount of code, because you are only coding to make one small thing happen.

Once that piece of code is complete, the developer moves to the next item on his or her list, makes another test based on a new goal, and codes some more. And so forth and so on they go until they have a complete program.

Now, let’s put the concept to use in our business with an example.

First, we need a goal. So let’s say our goal is to increase traffic to 10,000 page views per month. Well, how can we test for that result? With analytics, of course! With our goal and test in mind, figuratively, we start “coding.”  In our example, we decided the best way to increase website traffic is to write more articles.

So for the next 2-3 months, we will post new articles to our website three times a week. At the end of those three months, we review our analytics. If we reach our goal of 10,000 page views, then we are done.

However, if we miss our goal, we need to add more to our processes. Maybe you integrate social media into the mix. How about blogging four times a week? We could start a Hangout on Air (HOA) or podcast weekly. There are a lot of possibilities. But the point is we keep working and testing our work against our goal until we return a positive test result.

Additionally, if we exceeded our goal by a wide margin, maybe we should dial our effort back a little to allow us to spend more time in another area.

But we are not done.

You see, the goal to get 10,000 page views was not the end result of our website; it was simply one test on the road to an ultimately profitable website.

Your next test could be any number of things:

  1. Decrease bounce rate
  2. Increase a particular traffic channel (social media, forums, Q&A sites)
  3. Increase your email sign-up rate
  4. Increase your contact us page
  5. Convert more leads to sales (While not marketing, it helps to see the potential for this process in other areas of your business)
  6. Decrease your Adwords usage while still maintaining a certain level of traffic

And on and on you go, testing and revising your methods to boost or decrease each task.

But what is the ultimate goal of all this work?

Well, a number of things. Primarily you want to create a website that has accomplished its mission with the least amount of money and time committed. It also gives us a systematic framework to build our website on. Remember, your website should not be an overpriced business card. It needs to be viewed as a tool; a tool that helps your business attain whatever missions it’s been assigned.

Test Driven Development can help you stay on track and achieve your goals with the least amount of effort possible.

So what are you trying to build? Let me know. I would love to help.