Apply the scientific method to e-commerce marketing

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By using a process derived from the scientific method, online marketers may be able to make their ads and other promotions more effective, thereby increasing the return on ad spend and encouraging growth.

The scientific method is a process to help researchers learn the truth. It is based on observation, asking questions, creating hypotheses, experimenting, analyzing and refining. Adopting certain steps of the scientific method can help improve e-commerce marketing.

A marketing process similar to the scientific method should help online marketers increase the effectiveness of advertisements and promotions.

Start with problems and questions

In a sense, ecommerce marketing is really about solving problems or overcoming challenges.

You’re opening a new online store, but you don’t have a lot of customers. It is a problem. Or you have an established ecommerce store but your average order value is low. It is a problem.

The scientific method begins by observing a phenomenon and asking questions about it. So try this with your ecommerce marketing problems. If you don’t have a lot of customers, ask, “How do I get buyers to my store? “

Then try to narrow down your question. How do I get shoppers to my store without buying ads? How do I get shoppers to my store this month? How do I attract male buyers to my store?

Develop a hypothesis

Once you have a question, try to answer it.

You can start with what scientists call a working hypothesis, which is actually a guess to help get you started with research. You read certain articles, ask questions on forums, or connect with a marketer on Twitter.

You learn how others have answered similar questions, and you ultimately develop a highly probable solution.

If your question is, “How do I get buyers to my store without buying advertising?” You can hypothesize that content marketing will attract potential customers over time.

Likewise, if your question is “How do I get buyers to my store this month?” You may have decided that Facebook Ads are the answer.

Find what you think is the best answer to your question.

Test your hypothesis

Once a scientist has developed a hypothesis, he will design a series of experiments intended to test that hypothesis. Think of it this way: an experiment is a process that you specifically design to find out whether you are right or wrong.

So if your question was “How do I get shoppers to my store this month?” And your assumption is that Facebook Ads are the best solution, develop an experiment, or possibly a series of experiments, to put Facebook Ads to the test.

You may want to (a) create ads for specific products or brands, (b) test different types of product and lifestyle photographs, or, perhaps, (c) test your ad copy.

Analyze your test results

Scientists carefully examine the results of their experiments. Ultimately, the point is to accept or reject your hypothesis. Were you right about the Facebook ads?

Your analysis may lead to additional questions. That too is part of the process. The important thing is to really examine how your marketing experiences went, draw conclusions from those results, and bring what you learned with you to the next step in the process.

Refine your hypothesis or question

Maybe your Facebook ad or your content or social media marketing campaign didn’t go exactly as your guess predicted. Nonetheless, you might have learned something that you can use to make your marketing more effective.

For example, you might have learned that a Facebook ad generates a lot of traffic, but not a lot of conversions. It didn’t make you very happy. So go back and adjust your question. Instead of asking how you can attract more buyers this month, ask, “How can I make more sales this month?” “Or better yet” how can I increase my profits by 20% this month? “

The idea is just to take what you’ve learned and come back to your guess or question. Improve it, refine it, and start developing new eCommerce marketing experiences. You will have completed the process when you have effective marketing tactics that can answer your question over and over.

Don’t mess with your results

Your campaigns will be more effective if you start each of your marketing plans with a question and then develop a hypothesis. From there, experiment, analyze, and refine.

There is a small caveat. Be careful not to play with your results.

Scientists who know what to expect from an experiment can sometimes see a result that doesn’t really exist, or only report data that supports their hypothesis while ignoring evidence to the contrary. In fact, in 2010 the New Yorker published an interesting article on scientific findings titled “The Truth Fades: Is There Something Wrong With The Scientific Method?” He discusses some of the problems with communicating scientific results.

The same can happen with your marketing experiences. Let the result speak for itself, if you will.


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