Wikipedia defines it as "the act of repeating a process, usually with the aim of approaching a desired goal or target or result. Each repetition of the process is also called an 'iteration,' and the results of one iteration are used as the starting point for the next iteration."
In the days before digital marketing, most marketing programs were expensive, so before embarking on them, companies would spend a great deal of time developing and refining their plan. Mike Moran, a friend and expert SEO strategist compares it to a recipe for baking a cake. The chef puts in all of the ingredients and bakes it in the oven. Once it is baked, there is no way to add more salt or sugar, unless the chef starts over from scratch. So, a lot of thought and time must be put into deciding on the recipe.
Nowadays, many marketing programs can be better compared to making a soup. With soup, the chef is constantly tasting and adding, a pinch of this, a dab of that. With digital marketing and data analytics, plans can constantly be adjusted and improved, until the target or goal is reached. Many companies, especially mid-size established companies are overwhelmed with all of the changes in marketing. They are stuck, waiting until they are more sure of what to do. A better approach may be to start some small experiments and evaluate what works.
In Eric Ries excellent book, The Lean Startup, he talks about the MVP. First, a definition: the Minimum Viable Product is that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort. Here we are talking about doing experiments with marketing but the same concept applies. For example, if you are considering using LinkedIn for advertising or thinking about starting a blog, start it—small and inexpensively—and then test the results and iterate. Iterate, again and again until the goal is met. And in today's world, iteration is neverending because change is constant.
Recently, we at Chief Outsiders tried some experiments with LinkedIn. We thought that one approach would work and found another to be more effective at reaching our target market, (Why hire a CMO when you can rent one fast?) We wouldn't have known this without trying both and analyzing the results.
Marketing is evolving and today's CEO must evolve with it. This doesn't mean to ignore past successes and failures. It just means being willing to learn from them and experiment with new ideas and processes. But experiment cheaply. Don't bet the entire marketing budget on an untried concept.
Have you done something new and different lately in digital marketing? What lessons did you learn? Please share your comments below: