Scientific Marketing: Using Data to Drive Your Marketing Strategy
A/B Testing
Marketing Experiments
Data Driven Growth

Scientific Marketing: Using Data to Drive Your Marketing Strategy

Malaika NicholasMalaika Nicholas

July 19, 2021

“But I knew that already!”

If you’ve said this after reading yet another blog post on “the growth marketing hack guaranteed to improve your web traffic by 400% in two weeks”, you’re absolutely right. You do know this stuff already!

You know what the best practices are and, by now, you’ve tried nearly every marketing tactic in the book–you even see your peers apply the same methods with amazing results! So why aren’t you getting anywhere close to the “400% increase” that was promised?

It’s because you’re thinking more like a CEO with marketing experience when you should really be thinking like a scientist with a Ph.D.

In other words, stop throwing every marketing tactic at a wall and hope something will eventually stick.

Start using this systematic, scientific marketing process that will help you choose and execute a marketing strategy specifically tailored to your business needs.

What is scientific marketing?

Scientific marketing is a method of using small growth tests to obtain actionable data and results without burning through your resources.

Adopting a scientific marketing method helps you:

  • Focus on the biggest acquisition, conversion, and retention opportunities
  • Understand how valuable an opportunity is
  • Identify when and where a change is needed
  • Save yourself time and money
  • Find success again and again

This process will make your company’s growth scalable, predictable, and repeatable.

Here’s how the scientific marketing method works:

Step 1. Collect data and information through observation
Step 2. Create tentative descriptions of what is being observed
Step 3. Form hypotheses that predict different outcomes based on these observations
Step 4. Test your hypotheses
Step 5. Analyze the data, drawing conclusions and insights from the results
Step 6. Rinse and repeat

Let’s break it down.

Step 1. Collect data and information through observation

Start by looking at your data and performance, and asking yourself two questions:

  • What happened in my last experiment?
  • What has been happening this past month/quarter/year?

Pro Tip: if you’re unsure which metrics to track or how, use our Marketing Metrics Checklist as a guide!

At Ladder, some of our most valuable data is from the A/B tests we’re running. We check to see what tests have concluded, and which ones need to run longer to reach statistical significance.

Then, find something in the data that indicates unexpected weakness or strength. If something doesn’t fit with your mental model, keep digging until you know why. Ask yourself:

  • What did we change?
  • What changed around us?
  • What tactics are working and which ones are not?
  • How can we segment the data to show interesting or unexpected results?
  • What funnel stages are people dropping off at?
  • How is each marketing channel performing?

Once satisfied, curate the most useful and actionable insights and fill in a weekly report template.

Step 2. Create tentative descriptions of what is being observed

Now it’s time to look ahead. Ask:

  • What goals are we trying to hit?
  • How far away are we from hitting them?
  • What will it take?

When you’ve answered these questions, you can clearly define your objective, timeframe, and the key results you hope to achieve.

scientific marketing objectives

The objective doesn’t change often, but how far or close you are from the key results informs which tactics you need to choose to get things on track.

With objectives and key results in hand, now you can prioritize the marketing tactics you believe will help you achieve your key results.

This means you’ll need to find your weakest funnel stage and select 1-3 marketing tactics for that stage. Then consider how much each tactic will “cost”– this doesn’t just mean how much you’ll pay, but also how much time you’ll spend executing this tactic. Finally, determine how much impact this tactic will have on your objective.

scientific marketing tactics

You may have dozens of marketing tactics you’d like to try, but you can’t do them all at once. Keep them backlogged in a Google Sheet or an Excel document (or better yet, try the Ladder Planner so you don’t forget them.

Pro Tip: if you need help analyzing your marketing funnel, check out our Beginner’s Guide to Marketing Funnel Analysis for more information!

Step 3. Form hypotheses that predict different outcomes based on these observations

Next, you’ll need to form hypotheses to predict the outcome of your tactics.

Here’s what you need to keep in mind as you create a hypothesis:

  1. Start with a broad idea
  2. Generate assumptions
  3. Identify ways to test your assumptions
  4. Predict how those changes will impact a specific funnel metric

Just like any great scientist, you should format your hypothesis in an “If, Then” statement. Let’s say, for instance, one of my company objectives is to increase our email subscribers list and I believe changing the CTA on my landing page to increase the number of conversions.

In this case, I hypothesize that improving the clarity of the CTA will improve the overall number of email subscribers. Here’s how my hypothesis looks in the “If, Then” format:

“If I change the wording of this CTA to set expectations for users (from “submit” to “sign up for our newsletter”), then I will increase email subscription signups by 10% because I clearly explained what they are signing up for.

scientific marketing experiments

Step 4. Test your hypotheses

We’ve finally made it to the best part: testing! Remember, your goal is to systematically learn what works (or what doesn’t) to grow your company and why. After running thousands of A/B tests for our clients–and for ourselves–here’s some advice:

  • Don’t blow the whole budget on one ad campaign: start with a few hundred dollars a week and only scale up if it works.
  • Don’t roll out a new feature to every user: choose a small subsection of users and see if it even moves the needle before rolling it out.
  • Don’t redesign the homepage ‘just because’: run the numbers to see if it’s a worthwhile exercise vs. all the other actions you could take.
  • Don’t make 15 changes at once: systematically test one element at a time to truly learn its relative importance to performance.
  • Don’t argue about which ad looks the best: take all the different versions and test them in-market to let the data decide what’s best.
scientific marketing hypothesis

Step 5. Analyze the data, drawing conclusions and insights from the results

When your tests have concluded, you can finally analyze the results. Here are some you should ask yourself when you’re analyzing the results:

  • Impact: What were the results of the experiment?
  • Accuracy: How close to your hypothesis?
  • Why?: (The most important question you ask.) Why did you see the results you did?
  • Did you catch any obvious mistakes?
  • Did you ensure you’ve executed a valid test?

These questions will force you to revisit your assumptions and get better at predicting future outcomes.

But let’s be real. Not all of your results are going to turn out well. In fact, about 80% of tests fail, but the other 20% that do succeed will drive 80% of your company’s growth.

Step 6. Rinse and repeat

The final step in the scientific marketing process is to repeat the process again and again until you find a handful of strategies that have been proven to show impactful results for your business.

scientific marketing workflow

The “rinse and repeat” process, however, is subject to change. At Ladder, while our main focus is finding new tactics to test for our clients, we’ll often have a number of tests running at a time, some run a lot longer than others. For instance, some SEO or social media tests can take 3 months to conclude.

In a few cases, the platforms we use to execute said tactics are constantly changing, and we sometimes what we wanted to do isn’t possible anymore. Sometimes we notice something new that would work even better.

In other cases, we might need to change what we planned, but these are usually small changes. If there’s a major issue, we might put the tactic in our ‘Icebox’ for future consideration.

We certainly didn’t invent most of these concepts — we pieced things together based on what worked for us. We’re standing on the shoulders of giants such as Bryan Balfour, Andrew Chen, and Eric Ries.

It’s only fair that we put our version out there for you to benefit from. Feel free to adapt this scientific marketing approach to strategically find the tactics that will help grow your company.

Want to start applying the scientific marketing method at your company? Great! Here are some additional tools and materials that can help!

11 Essential SaaS Marketing Tactics for Growth & Retention

The Marketing Metrics Checklist: 8 Numbers You Need To Check Daily

10 Go-To B2B Marketing Tactics Guaranteed to Increase ROI

Beginner’s Guide to Marketing Funnel Analysis

Ladder Marketing Stack – The 50 Tools We Use to Grow Businesses

Ladder powers strategy and performance solutions for fast-growing brands

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