Don’t fear the algorithm: Embracing experimentation in digital marketing

For many business leaders, the ever-evolving landscape of digital marketing can be daunting.

Don’t fear the algorithm: Embracing experimentation in digital marketing

New platforms seem to emerge daily, and algorithms shift way faster than we can keep up. I’m convinced even Google, YouTube, Facebook, and the other behemoths of digital marketing, don’t fully understand their own algorithms. But that’s beside the point! The key to being successful in digital marketing lies in embracing experimentation while mitigating risk through data-driven analysis.

Think of digital marketing as a scientific exploration. You have a hypothesis (your marketing campaign) and something largely unknown (algorithms). To be successful, you need courage and a compass but not one or the other. Courage fuels your willingness to try new things and the compass, in this case, is your data. By meticulously recording and measuring the performance of your campaigns, you gain valuable insights that guide future exploration.

Here’s how to go about improving your digital marketing efforts as a business leader:

Define success

Every experiment needs a goal. Are you aiming for brand awareness, lead generation, website traffic, or phone calls. Clearly define your success metrics upfront and align them with your overall business objectives. Put something in place to be able to track your goals. If it’s website traffic, use Google Analytics, if it’s phone calls, get specific phone number you can tie to your campaigns, and if it’s lead generation, ask everyone who gets in touch where they found you (if this can’t be done automatically). 

Start small

Don’t be tempted to blow your budget on an unproven platform. Test the waters, sure, but spread your budget across multiple channels. For example, you might want to run some Google Ads alongside an organic social strategy and some aggregator lead generation. 

Remember, if you’ve never run a Google Ads campaign before, put a small amount of your budget into a couple of different campaigns and measure their success against one another. Spend a bit of money on some aggregators relevant to your sector too. For example, in home care, there multiple options for businesses such as Compare Caring,, Autumna, and Lottie.

Track everything

Data is your best friend. Monitor where every lead comes from so that you can budget better. Look at your Cost Per Acquisition (CPA), which is the amount of money it costs you to generate a sale. You’ll probably have a different CPA for every lead source, so record this because it’ll help you understand where to spend your budget next time out.

However, don’t rule out qualitative data like audience sentiment and reviews. This plays a vital role in making sure your digital marketing strategy succeeds, or doesn’t. 

Embrace A/B testing

A/B testing is or multivariate testing is where you run 2 or more campaigns side by side and change small elements of each one to see what’s working best. If you’re running email marketing campaigns, for example, send every lead the same email but change the subject line to see which one gets the most opens. You can also test different videos and buttons for example to see which content gets the most engagements. If you’re running Google Ads campaigns, testing landing pages alongside each other is key to understand which converts better.

Measure ROI, not just activity

Don’t get lost in vanity metrics. While likes and shares are good, they shouldn’t be the sole focus. Tie your digital marketing efforts to quantifiable business outcomes like increased sales to really understand if something is working or not.

Be patient and adaptable: Don’t expect overnight success. Building a successful digital marketing strategy takes time and consistent effort. Stay up-to-date with industry trends, be flexible to adapt your approach, and celebrate small wins along the way. A Good newsletter to follow for anything digital marketing related is Neil Patel’s which you can find here. Google called Neil Patel the best digital marketer in the world recently!

By embracing experimentation with a data-driven approach, you can unlock the true potential of digital marketing. Remember, the greatest discoveries often lie beyond the familiar. So, take a deep breath, and give something a go. The road to success is often a winding one and while you might kiss a few frogs, don’t let that put you off!

James Boyes
James Boyes