Everything I Know about Marketing I learned from Google

Chapter 8: Test Everything

Executive Summary:

How did Google choose the design for its now-famous logo?

The same way it approaches every aspect of user experience — very carefully. Accordingly, it tested nearly every possible variation before picking a winner.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is all about testing various combinations of elements — keywords, copy, landing pages, etc. — and continuously optimizing.

In Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell describes how “little things can make a big difference.” He describes how “Sesame Street” and “Blues Clues” went to great lengths to test variables like on-screen placement and show repetition to determine what would increase viewership.

Because they’re so used to testing, SEM professionals are positioned well to climb the ranks within marketing departments. They’re comfortable with change. They know how to create a culture of testing. And they never rest until they’ve reached the optimal outcome.

Select Quotes:

“The end user experience always comes first.”

– Tom Simon, Senior Account Executive, Google, @ThomasWSimon

“Launch and iterate. See what works. Get it out there. Get feedback.”

– Jon Kaplan, Industry Director, Financial Services, Google, @Jon_Kaplan

“It is sometimes our assumptions about how we think consumers feel or why they do the things that they do that end up being the pitfalls to uncovering the realities of the situation.”

– Linda Tuncay Zayer, Assistant Professor of Marketing, Loyola University Chicago, @Dr_Tea

“Don’t look back. Ask what else you could be doing to improve.”

– Mark Scholz, Senior Manager SEM & SEO, Hewlett-Packard

“Move fast, iterate fast, make mistakes fast.”

– Rishad Tobaccowala, Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer, VivaKi, @RishadT

“Getting out of the polemic is as simple as setting up a test and getting real data.”

– Olivier Lemaignen, Director of Marketing, Kodak Gallery@Olivier_US

“To be successful in marketing you have to be curious about everything.”

– Steven Hall, Professor, College Of Media, University of Illinois

“I remember doing direct mail in the early 1990s and it was ok to wait three weeks to get all the responses.”

- Dr. Debra Zahay, Associate Professor of Interactive Marketing, Northern Illinois University, @Zahay

“Anyone, anywhere in the world, that has something to say, sell, or buy can use Google AdWords.”

– Penry Price, VP, Global Agency and Industry Development, Google, @PenryPrice

“SEM pros are positioned well. They are used to rapid innovation, constant testing and finding ways to take new features from folks like Google to increase value.”

– David Szetela, CEO, Clix Marketing, @Szetela

“Being in search brings your attention to how to understand what people want and how to give it to them.”

– Stephen Governale, Executive Director of Interactive and Innovation, AT&T, @S_Gov

“Be serious about constantly learning since things change so fast [but] not serious about [your] own position or knowledge since you will make a fool of yourself in learning.”

– Rishad Tobaccowala, Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer, VivaKi, @RishadT

“Never assume you’ve reached the optimal outcome. Develop new experiments and always try and beat the control.”

– David Szetela, CEO, Clix Marketing, @Szetela

Final Thought:

The next time you have the option to do a test, don’t pass.


June 1, 2010: In this chapter, Bill Wise is featured as an example of an SEM-pro who done good in the broader marketing world. Well, he done gooder. Bill is now the CEO of MediaBank, a “leading provider of integrated procurement technology and advanced analytics to the advertising industry.” For more details, read the press release.

June 13, 2010: Like Bill Wise, Olivier Lemaignen is another SEM-er on the rise featured in this chapter that’s since taken on a new role. Olivier is now the Director of Consumer Marketing for AlignTech, maker ofInvisalign dental care products.

July 28, 2010: This chapter included links to my 2 previous “Search Haiku” columns. Today, I published a 2010 edition.

Sept. 2, 2011: Testing everything means failing frequently. Today, Google did a fall spring-clean, shutting down 10 products that didn’t quite catch on.

October 14, 2011: Add 4 more products to the Google Graveyard in today’s fall sweep. Major Buzz-kill.

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