Are you looking for inspiration to improve your organization’s marketing performance? Well, there’s plenty of inspiration if you keep your eyes and ears open. This may seem obvious, but sometimes I have to remind myself of this fact and of all the opportunities out there.
As marketing-oriented professionals, we’re all responsible for contributing ideas, regardless of where we sit on the organizational chart. Further, we are also targeted by our fellow martech practitioners. So, let’s learn from each other, even if we do so indirectly.
You, the consumer
We’re all in the market for a variety of items regardless if it’s in a B2B, B2C or D2C context. Thus, it doesn’t hurt to pay attention to all the various tactics and channels our counterparts employ to persuade us to purchase their goods or services.
For example, when I was involved with A/B testing years ago, I was visiting a website for my personal interests. One day I noticed a significant UX difference from when I was last on the site. For some odd reason, I decided to check the site on another device and it was what I last experienced. I caught that website conducting an A/B test.
Upon realizing this, I could examine what different design elements the organization was trying out. I could also consider my two different devices to surmise how the organization was potentially segmenting audiences, which could’ve involved factors like device type, anonymous/authenticated, referral source, etc. This situational awareness allowed me to develop new ideas for my job.
When looking for inspiration or conducting “secret shopper” research, consider more organizations than your employer’s obvious competitors.
For instance, while conducting a shopping cart SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis, my boss challenged me to broaden the definition of competitors. In that case, we explored possibilities for our lead forms and shopping cart journeys. My then-employer wasn’t an ecommerce organization, but she instructed me to consider large companies like Target, Amazon and Priceline. They have shopping carts as well, right?
Although there are apparent differences between sectors and contexts, most organizations have many similarities, especially with martech. Websites, email, social media, SMS texts, databases and lead forms are just a few elements and components of martech-enabled campaigns that a broad swath of organizations employ. Thus, don’t limit yourself to apparent competitors. There’s inspiration in all sorts of places.
Occasionally, we all find customers of our employer’s direct competitors. This can happen for a whole host of innocent reasons. When you find yourselves in such a situation, remember how your interaction with them proceeds. Look for opportunities to test things out. For instance, instead of directly speaking with a representative in person, why not test communicating via the mobile app, chat or other messaging channel?
Consider different types of UX decisions. What triggers an automated message? How is that message drafted and delivered? How do your inputs and actions affect your customer journey? It also doesn’t hurt to look to see what vendors they’re using, and sometimes that is easy as paying attention to fine print or looking at available source code (like in browsers).
There are plenty of safe and ethical ways to go about such research. You might also employ them, as any competent competitor is already checking you out.
We should act in good faith when conducting such research. It’s not fair to needlessly fill a database with bogus data. Nor is it fair to give bad ratings to see how an organization will respond or distract a customer-facing employee from their duties for mere research. As the Golden Rule states, do unto others as you would have done unto you.
Keep those eyes and ears open
Inspiration and ideas are out there for the taking. With some awareness, they’re easy to find. However, maintain some work-life boundaries. Not every transaction needs to relate to your day job.
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