B2B Marketing Blog

Actionable Information: How To Apply The Scientific Method To Marketing Operations [pt. 3 of 4]

By Lauren Frye
May 23, 2016
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Welcome back to our four-part series on marketing operations leadership

Whether you want to improve a campaign, get more budget, or implement a new marketing technology, you'll need to justify it with objective information.

By generating objective and persuasive information you'll be able to drive transformation at your organization. 

This post helps you do that by providing a framework for using the scientific method in marketing operations.

The Need For A Good Approach To Marketing Data Analysis

Since early 2005, the marketing operations manager has become a vital source of knowledge and skill.

Whether it's improving the marketing and sales funnel or working with teams to implement a campaign, operations comes down to optimization.

Using the time-tested scientific method to conduct analyses of marketing data is one way to confidently make optimizations. These analyses help you find ways to generate more qualified leads, speed up pipeline velocity, and generate more deals -- results that every Director, Manager, or CEO cares about.

Before you can implement major changes it's important to present proof of concept or findings that suggest your changes will result in benefits like improved ROI. 

This is where objective information gained through using the scientific method becomes necessary. In order to get more budget, re-organize teams, or implement new technology you need to have persuasive information. Doing research based on the scientific method can get you that. 

Here's what the process looks like for marketing operations professionals:

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(Click image to enlarge)

Step 1: Track Everything And Build A Taxonomy

Part 1 of this series was building a core marketing technology stack. If you've done this then you are tracking everything from online to offline channels. The core martech stack allows you to build the perfect martech stack and run data analysese when needed. Thus, tracking all touchpoints and engagements is the pre-requisite to doing research and running tests in marketing operations.

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Included in this step is developing a taxonomy of your marketing channels. This is an organized chart that outlines all your channels and their relationships to one another. 

Next, decide on the area you want to improve throught testing using the scientific method. This can be the management of the sales and marketing funnel, digital projects or the analytics process. 

Step 2: Choose A Good Research Question

A good research question is one that stakeholders want and need answering. This is the WHY of the question. Here are some traits of a good research question:

  • The answer to your research question should have actionable implications for your marketing team. 

  • The research question should include measurable variables. 

  • It should be easy to comprehend and not overly complex.

  • The research question should have clarity and precision.

Aside from a good research question, you'll want to choose the types of research problem to pursue. For example:

  • Relational Research: What's the relationship between two different variables? Are they postively or inversely related? For example, revenue and spending on online marketing channels.

  • Descriptive Research: What's the underlying reason something works the way it does? E.g. Why do campaigns perform at their current level? 

  • Differences Research: What are the differences between two items of interest? Think A/B testing here, what are the performance differences of two different ads? You can apply this approach to exploring the performance differences between teams or campaigns.

  • Casuist: This type of research relates to determining what's right and wrong. For marketing operations, it helps you determine the right process. 

Here are more example research questions for marketing operations to answer:

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Next, you'll want to choose the most appropriate research methodology. 

Step 3: Choosing The Right Research Method And Running Your Analysis 

Now that you have a good research question, it's time to choose a relevant research method. 

Will you be interviewing people, running data into Excel, or using an A/B testing platform? 

This part is dependent on your research question and some questions lend themselves to quantitative methods while other questions require a qualitative approach. 

For instance you may be concerned with objective knowledge, yes or no answers, and measurable variables. Or you may be concerned with how something works or why processes are in place, lending itself to a more qualitative approach. 

Whichever you choose, make sure it answers your research question in a practical way.

Next, run the analysis. 

Step 4: Presenting Your Findings And Leading Change

It's time to lead change with the knowledge you've obtained through running your analysis. 

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When presenting your findings it's important to include a few ingredients:

  • A clear path to greater ROI: What improvements should be made in light of the new information? 

  • The alternative options: What are other viable options the leadership team can consider? They may have contextual information and can see where your findings fit into the bigger picture.

  • A comparison of short-costs and long-term benefits: What are the trade offs and opportunity costs associated with your proposed changes? Are there short term sacrifices/costs for long term gains? You should explain why your proposed action is the best way forward. 

Step 5: Revising Your Research Question or Implementing Improvements

You've done it. You've completed your research and you've presented your findings. 

In academia, research leads to more research. Your work in studying performance and operations may not always yield immediate changes to processes or spending. In this case it's important to continue revising and revisiting the questions you care about, or at least continuing to ask big questions. 

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The last step of our framework includes the options to revise your research question, choose a new to area to investigate, or own the implementation of changes when your recommendations get accepted. 

Conclusion

Through this post you've learned how to approach the side of marketing operations that doesn't get much attention: influencing change. While marketing operations is usually concerned with backend work, it's a source of essential information for decision-making. 

By using the scientific method in marketing operations you can present a business case that is both sound in reasoning and meticulous in execution. This will help you define and lead improvements at your organization. 

More and more senior level executives are coming from marketing operations. Their knowledge of marketing and sales data, and their ability to lead transformation makes marketing operations managers ideal candidates for leadership roles. 

The scientific method is the ladder that helps marketers climb the org chart. 

This has been an excerpt from our 4 Competencies Of The Marketing Operations Leader e-book. To learn about the other 3 competencies areas for marketing operations, download the e-book below, and consider joining our webinar where you'll learn how to transform your career in operations.

Special thank you to Andy Turman, Co-Founder and Head of Success at Bizible, and Saad Hameed, Marketing Operations, Demand, and Growth Expert, and overall cool guys, for inspiration and guidance for this post.

 

Core Competencies of the Marketing Operations Leader  The frameworks every marketing operations leader needs  Download Now

 

Topics: marketing operations

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