Ignore your intuition — and improve your marketing results

Intuition is seductive. No matter how often it disappoints us or leads us astray, we always seem to return to it with open arms. Then it betrays us again. And again.

In a session this morning at the Selling Online Subscriptions Summit, Flint McGlaughlin demonstrated the fallibility of marketing intuition with three recent case studies. Before presenting the results from our optimization tests, he asked the audience to pick the winners. Each time, the majority of the crowd selected the page that underperformed. In one example, only two attendees chose the page that improved results.

This isn’t meant to embarrass this group of marketers. On the contrary, these are seasoned, savvy professionals who know the Web and their industries. It simply reaffirms what MarketingExperiments has found time and again with optimization: more often than not, intuition is wrong.

That’s why we test, get results, and test again, ad infinitum. This basic but essential mantra is what gets the double-digit gains we saw in the three case studies (see them here: one, two, three). It also keeps our learning process on track when control pages outperform certain changes, or a good idea falls through the cracks.

We should be learning constantly, from our successes as well as our mistakes. That’s one of the best ways to train ourselves to outsmart our marketing intuition.

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