This article was first published in the business section of The West Australian on 30th June 2014

Miles Burke in The West

Back in the days of traditional marketing and advertising, if we had the client budget, we would test our campaign on a small sample audience to get a reaction. Much of this was based on 'gut feel', no matter what words we used to pitch it to our client.

Nowadays, the advent of digital marketing means we can measure like never before. So how come many marketers still gloss over this, and run headlong in with large budgets and crossed fingers?

Perhaps it's the lack of understanding or the lack of time or maybe they are just bringing their traditional media habits with them. The golden rule is that digital marketing without testing and measurement is wasted marketing.

There are a plethora of tools available to us marketers to measure. Everything from display ad networks, to search engine advertising right through to email campaigns, we can measure performance, and test ad creative against ad creative, and continue to reach for better response rates or improved engagement.

Try running a short campaign with a limited budget and two variations. Determine the winner using a simple goal (click through rates, or page likes or whatever the goal), and roll that out as your main campaign creative. Wait a few days, trial a small variation using a small portion of your budget, and if your variation gets better traction, swap it out.

The trick here is trialling small variations, not complete overhauls. I've personally seen huge increases through swapping out one single word in a headline, or changing the background colour of a button. These are literally ten minute changes, and can mean the difference between a less than 2% response rate, and an eight percent return. A 400 per cent improvement in advertising by investing ten minutes? Yes please.

Clever marketers handling traditional advertising campaigns are also using this philosophy. Trial your campaign creative online first, tweak and improved, and then use your newly inherited knowledge on your broadcast or press advertising.

A few hundred dollars spent online can drastically improve that offline campaign two, three or four-fold in response rates.

Facebook has page metrics, Google has their AdWords dashboard, and any reliable email suite has its own measurement tools. They provide these intuitive and beautifully designed tools free with your campaign, and make it very easy for you to review daily.

Investing a little time and budget can convert your wasted marketing into a great campaign.

Miles Burke is managing director at Bam Creative