Ever wonder why the failure rate of most inbound marketing experiments hovers around 97 percent? It’s because marketers rely on growth spikes from one-off successes but can’t repeat them. Unfortunately, this isn’t a game of roulette — it’s business.

Rather than base marketing on gut feelings and guesswork, embrace science. When you treat marketing like a scientific experiment, data reveals the levers you can pull to grow your company faster, driving more accurate predictions about what’s most likely to work.

A smart growth-marketing process requires a system that gets you more data than your competition has. Without one, you’re guessing in the dark on what might increase ROI.

Real-World Solutions, Real-World Success

Do I believe in scientific marketing? Absolutely. It’s a process we use all the time, and it’s helped us uncover amazing opportunities.

We recently analyzed our marketing funnel and found a win that increased our ROI by more than 150 percent. After months of optimization, we had multiple channels successfully driving traffic to our website and converting at a cost per qualified lead that was exactly in our target range.

Digging deeper into our down-funnel sales metrics, however, we noticed that only 12 percent of requests were actually booking sales demos. That meant our cost per demo booked was 10 times higher than we’d previously calculated. Recognizing a new high-impact area to test, we executed a series of email, on-site, and CRM tactics traditional marketers would never think to touch. The result? The rate at which leads booked demos increased to 35 percent.

A system of data-driven marketing can effectively solve common marketing and sales issues before they sap your revenue. You just need to ask a few questions:

1. Which customers are best for my business?

Your marketing consultants gave you customer personas — throw them out. “Professional Pam, the single 25- to 32-year-old woman working in accounting or finance in New York” is a terrible audience for digital channels.

To compete, you need hard data to determine who buys your products, and then find and target the exact audiences that fit your ideal customer profile (that nobody else is targeting!). If you honestly knew — and didn’t just assume you knew — your customers, you could effectively boost inbound sales leads and generate data.

Consider Facebook Audience Insights, an advertising tool offering customer information such as likes and dislikes, relationship status, education, net worth, behaviors, etc. Getting specific allows you to drill deeper and tap into personas your consultants never dreamed of. Facebook Lookalike Audiences can do this at scale using machine learning. No human can replicate this, even with access to all of Facebook’s data.

By systematically targeting specific customer profiles on digital channels and tracking them down the marketing funnel, you can validate which audiences drive the highest ROI.

2. Which customer behaviors indicate buying intent?

When Facebook discovered that people who added seven friends in 10 days were more likely to stay, it pinpointed actionable growth opportunities that helped it grow to 1 billion users.

You need to find your business’s “aha!” moment. Services such as Mixpanel and Amplitude can help you determine which user actions correlate with retention by tracking mobile and web application activity.

Case in point: When Calm wanted to analyze user behavior, it partnered with Amplitude to see how it could improve its meditation app features. The data showed that Calm users who were prompted to use the app’s reminder feature had the same boost in numbers as those who found it on their own. However, 40 percent of those who saw the prompt set the reminder, which meant Calm could better control user behavior and results.

Find your North Star metric like Calm and Facebook did — you can center your organization’s strategy on optimizing it.

3. How can we use science to enhance the art of our brand?

Some creative and message options work better than others; however, it’s impossible to pick winners without testing. Test across every customer touchpoint with combinations of audience, creative, message, and channel. Test different value propositions, then integrate these data-driven learnings into your brand and your offline marketing campaigns.

Get creative with your channels. Find clever ways to reach the right customers, like web scraping, less obvious likes and interests, and unique custom audience data sets. At my last startup, we launched a cold email campaign based on a Yelp scrape of bar and restaurant owners. Within two months, we had 50 venues sign contracts, thousands of pre-launch customer sign-ups, and our marketing funnel economics mapped out, leading to a $100,000 angel investment.

Optimizing the onboarding of new venues and subscribers served as a multiplier for us, making every marketing channel perform better and helping us outbid competitors on digital channels. Knowing how your customer thinks and feels, yet validating your assumptions with hard data, is a combination of art and science.

If you build a modern company with traditional marketing — ignoring the fact that fewer than one in 10 inbound marketing experiments bears fruit — you’ll starve. Adopt a scientific marketing mindset to execute ROI-driven strategy that gives you an advantage.

Everyone says data is important. The challenge is being one of the few to actually build a system that capitalizes on it. How will you do that?


Jon Brody is CEO and co-founder at Ladder, an ROI-driven company that’s a one-stop shop for growing businesses across all marketing channels and funnel stages.