By Jakub Marcin | 10.9.2021

Experimental marketing: four examples of the iterative approach in practice

Product – 3 min read

Now that you know why it is a good idea to give experimental culture in marketing a shot and what steps are needed to implement it, it's time to look at the production part. I'll show you four specific examples of how we've used experimentation and the iterative approach that we've adapted for marketing here at Applifting. 

1. First stress test: new HR videos

Applifting has undergone several significant changes over the past year that needed to be reflected in the company's communications, including career paths. These changes included a new visual identity and our brand new offices. When choosing the format, we decided to go (as we did in the past) for videos because we enjoy this style of communication. In addition, it allowed us to creatively portray content, showcase our new home, and convey the Applifting vibe. Since we had planned to create a total of four videos, we wanted to stay on top of the financial challenges that came with the project. In the end, we decided to just go for it the first time and see if we could make a quality video without any external help. Simply a great opportunity to see the iterative approach at play. Our creative colleague-photographer Jakub took over the camera, and the editing was entrusted to an external specialist, which ended up being the only expensive item in the budget.

Rough scripts were written for all the videos, one of which we then developed in detail. Then we shared them with our HR team and got feedback, which we incorporated back into the scripts. But the main challenge was the production. Since we didn't have a full crew, we decided to do a dry run for the first video. We wanted to see if we were even able to achieve the quality we wanted, and we also didn't want to waste the time of our founders, who were to be featured in this part.  

In the test recording, the founders were played by our colleagues Lucie and Kristýna. And because perfection wasn’t the point, and because we were mainly concerned with the quality of the video and the locations, one morning is all it took. With this mock video, we collected more feedback. It was reviewed not only by our HR team but also by the founders of Applifting, who star in the final version. We unanimously agreed to shoot it.

Still, we were prepared for the possibility that it might not work out for various reasons and that we would not continue. That didn't happen, and a week later, we had the first recording in the series done, including post-production.  

Looking back, I have to admit that the size of the project and especially its production were a big challenge for us at the beginning. But it was the iterative approach that helped us to gradually gain experience and confidence while identifying weaknesses that we improved on in later stages. Thanks to this, we successfully completed the remaining three videos. 

How did the recordings perform after publication? In addition to the positive feedback from Applifters, we achieved above-average ad ratings in all four Facebook promotion campaigns. When assessing the effectiveness of our HR marketing activities, I spoke individually with freshly onboarded Applifters and found that the videos in particular played an important role in their decision-making process. After watching them, they felt closer to us, they wanted to learn more about Applifting, and their interest in working with us increased.

Watch the first video here:

2. iKariéra job fair: How experimenting with an idea brought us two new team members

The following example also belongs to the field of HR marketing. It was this year's iKariéra job fair at CVUT (Czech Technical University in Prague), which was held online due to the covid pandemic. Here at Applifting, we like to give talented young people opportunities to prove themselves, and it is clear to us that we need to come across as an attractive employer to them. And at a job fair, where dozens of other companies and corporations are competing with one another, standing out from the crowd is a must. What better opportunity to experiment; this time with ideas.

We prepared an online profile, a catalogue advert, our own webinar for students, and other materials. But beyond that, we were also looking for a way to be different and engaging. Our COO Filip came up with the idea of a crypto contest. The gist of it was five successive ciphers, each of which unlocked the next in line. The bump in difficulty between each of them meant you could spend several hours coming up with a solution. I kept thinking that it was too difficult. I mean, contests are supposed to be easy, just let people work things out quickly and leave us with their contact details. But within our experimental culture, I suppressed the thought, and we did an internal test run first. Then we gradually refined the ciphers, and eventually, a chatbot was created. At the same time, we put together some cool prizes like a Nerf gun, LEGO, or a wallet with some crypto inside. There was no way it could fail :-) 

What results did our participation in the online job fair bring us? On average, solvers spent approximately nine minutes on the site and exchanged about 21,000 messages with the crypto chatbot. The competition was also attractive to the fair organizers, and they shared it several times on their social media profiles. In addition to building awareness of Applifting, the investment also brought us tangible recruitment results. One of the contestants joined us straight away and is already working on our projects. Thanks to other activities, we have strengthened the Applifting team with one more member from among the fair participants. 

3. Corporate podcasts: from phone recording to our own studio

Another interesting example of using the iterative approach is our podcasts. In March 2021, we started our own podcast channel O inovacích {na rovinu} (where we openly discuss innovation). But we didn't just up and decide that we're going to do podcasts, immediately buy the equipment, set up the studio, and start recording. Initially, we didn't even know if it was a useful and good idea. Do we even have anything to say? Will people be interested? And most importantly, does it fit into our business and marketing strategy?

How did the idea of recording our own podcasts come about? Together with our copywriter Lucka, we interviewed our gurus and our colleagues from the product team in preparation for an e-book about digital product creation. To be able to revisit the content repeatedly, we had documented this interview. And because it was meant only for our internal marketing use, we recorded it on an iPhone. At the end of the first talk, we knew right away that we had tons of useful and interesting information that would be great to use in other ways too. So I came up with the idea of making it into a podcast. I just went for it and posted the result to our Slack. While the audio quality wasn't great, the feedback was very positive. 

This gave us confidence and direction, and we started planning other topics and conversations. We collected feedback on each one and gradually improved the quality of the recordings. Now there is a studio being set up, and we’re planning on making videos too. But you can already hear the difference in quality between the first podcast recorded with an iPhone and the last one recorded using a microphone.

Our 1st podcast recorded on an iPhone:(Czech only)

The last podcast recorded in our studio:(Czech only)

It’s a process, testing the podcast and evaluating its contribution to our business. There’s still a lot of work to do, but we are already seeing the first results. More than 1,000 listens is a good result for such a niche segment. Podcasts also serve to educate our current and potential partners. We already have the experience of a client approaching us and wanting to develop their product with Applifting because they trust us just based on the podcasts. And that's exactly the kind of goal we're pursuing in the long run.

4. Landing page: The idea didn't work, but it cost us almost nothing

Part of Applifting's marketing activities includes helping to collect leads for our gurus. Based on several discussions we had, we agreed to create a landing page for one of them as a trial. This was to serve as their professional introduction, and it also offered the opportunity to book a free 30-minute no-strings-attached consultation.

In terms of the iterative approach, we wanted to test the functionality of this idea first and only then turn to our UX designers and coders. So in one day, we created a simple landing page using HubSpot. It contained not only a booking form but also some info on our expert or the articles he had written. Then we ran ads on social media and waited.

And waited and waited. In the month and a half that the LinkedIn and Facebook ad campaigns were active, we had one single booking. We tried to make various adjustments along the way, but even so, we were unable to increase that number. After a while, we decided to shut the page down and turn the ads off. This may seem like a failure at first, but we see it as valuable experience that saved us a lot of time and money. The idea wasn't working, and we figured that out before we invested in producing an expensive website. And that's great.

What general conclusions and lessons can you draw from our marketing experiments?

  • New HR videos: Thanks to the iterative approach, you can manage even a project that seems unattainable at first glance. The incremental steps will get you there.
  • Crypto game: Experimental culture helps you to open up to ideas you'd probably be dismissive of at first. And then it's great to see that they actually work (and how they work).
  • Corporate podcast: Testing a new format can be as small as an iPhone recording that you eventually turn into a podcast. The key is collecting feedback and continually evaluating and improving the output.
  • A failed landing page: with the iterative approach, even failure can net you positive results. You learn something new without squandering your budget. If you were to find out it wasn't working after investing a hundred thousand crowns, for example, it wouldn't have been such a success.

Want to learn more about experimental culture and how we do it at Applifitng? Don’t hesitate to reach out to me via LinkedIn, I’ll be happy to talk.

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