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3 Studies that Challenge Marketing Assumptions [UML]

3 Studies that Challenge Marketing Assumptions

Assumptions are akin to a heuristic – an imperfect method of decision making that’s “good enough” and saves time.

When assumptions are right, everything goes smoothly.  But when they are wrong, the rest can go horribly wrong.

Assumptions are essential within the construct of a well-defined decision-making process that puts them on the table and encourages a team to challenge assumptions.

And that’s the theme for this week’s Unscripted Marketing links [UML] – an occasional Saturday roundup of three vetted links grouped around a theme and offered for your consideration.

This week we challenging three marketing assumptions.

1)  Marketing assumption: more leads are better

sm-More leads are betterWho doesn’t want more leads? The assumption is, that sales and marketing have agreed on a definition of a lead, how to prioritize and route leads, and there’s a plan for nurturing those that are interested but non-committal.

Joe Hyland, the CMO for webinar platform On24, wrote “the only valuable prospects are the ones that convert; all the others are just wasted time and lessons learned.”

Indeed, the pendulum seems to have swung that way according to survey data reviewed by Marketing Charts: B2B  Marketers Shift Priorities From Generating Leads to Converting Them.

“B2B marketers this year are more interested in converting leads to customers than in generating more leads and demand, a reversal from last year, when the opposite was true.”

It later added:

“…as B2B marketers prioritize conversions over demand generation, more this year use customers and deals as their primary metric.”

Interestingly, a review of the full survey also shows 59% of respondents believe their budget will increase over the next year.  The complete report, which was conducted by Bizible, is available with registration: 2017 State of Pipeline Marketing Report.

2)  Marketing assumption: bounce rates mean failure 

sm-Bounce rates mean your content is failing

Web visitors that bounce, maybe more valuable than businesses give them credit for, according to research by Parsely, and reviewed by Lucia Moses of Digiday for a piece titled, Turns out the flyby reader is more valuable than often thought:

“Parsely looked at 1.6 billion “bounced” visits to news and entertainment publishers in its network over a six-month period. It found that 32 percent of those visits lasted less than 15 seconds. But of the remaining 68 percent of the bounced visits, 77 percent stayed longer than 30 seconds.”

She quotes Parsely Co-founder and CTO:

“Pageviews don’t tell you much about engagement, just what they’re reading. If a publisher is looking at pageviews and bounce rates, they are definitely measuring it all wrong.”

Marketers often assume that bounced visits are inherently bad, when from a publisher, or content marketing perspective, bounce rates could be good:  a visitor searched for an answer and your page answered it quickly.  Brands should strive to be a trusted source that answers questions quickly.

If visitors aren’t finding an answer and they go back to the search results…then that’s bad and yes, that will probably hurt your search rankings.  This is why marketers need to look at a range of metrics.  The full report is available here: Redefining bounce rate with engaged time.

Side note: There’s a question in the article about the impact of video and whether or not it improves time on page. Of course, it does, and there’s been a number of studies that show this over the years. One of the earliest I recall is a PRWeb study of press releases in 2010 that found multimedia, including images and video, improved time on page by almost 30 seconds.

3) Marketing assumption: influencers can be purchased 

The business knows they paid the influencer, so, everyone else will too, right?  Wrong. Most consumers are unaware that paid influencer posts are ads, according to reporting by Greg Sterling of Marketing Land.

He covers an influence marketing survey by Open Influence, which found “Roughly half of the respondents didn’t know any of the hashtags commonly used by influencers to indicate sponsored content were denoting advertising.”

He explains:

“Presented with #ad, #paid, #spon, #collab and #partner and asked to identify which of them indicated a post was sponsored, 46 percent said “none of them.”

What happens when people come to the realization these are pay-to-play pitches?  They will be upset and lose trust, right?

Apparently not, according to Mr. Sterling’s article:

“when asked hypothetically, does knowledge that a post is sponsored ‘change your sentiment about that influencer/celebrity?,’ 71 percent said ‘no.’”

However, I think that’s a very risky assumption.  As I recall a member of the panel on a recent episode of the BeanCast saying, there’s a difference between influencers and celebrities.  Businesses have used celebrity endorsements forever, but many of them focus on the experience.

For example, Nike doesn’t have famous athletes pitching their product, rather they focused on the athletic experience.  They tell a narrative in which shoes and apparel just happen to have a supporting role.  By contrast, brands are paying influencers to pretend to like their products in exchange for a bunch of likes.

My advice to B2B organizations is to vet influencers carefully, and then hire them for content:  a webinar, a talk at a user conference, or an industry report.  Treat them the similar to the way you would an analyst from Gartner or Forrester because the business model is essentially the same.

The full report did not appear to be available on the Open Influence website.

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Photo credit:  Instagram.com/frankstrong

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