An online research firm learns the value of a lesson

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Challenge:, an Atlantic Beach, Fla.-based online marketing research laboratory, found that although it was easy to convince companies' marketing departments of the need for online testing, those marketers were having a hard time convincing internal C-level executives of the payoff. “We see companies ranging from The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal to people like Microsoft recognizing the need, yet they find it difficult to get money in at the top level for extensive testing,” said Flint McGlaughlin, director of MEC Labs, in a recent teleconference.

Solution: So MEC Labs took it upon itself to teach them. Knowing it was up to them to empower marketers, MEC set up a program to equip them with the tools, data and presentation strategies they would need to procure the investment of time and money for analytics. MEC compiled a webinar complete with pitching strategies, a customizable PowerPoint presentation, a list of the data that one would need to build a convincing presentation and a guide to preparing research proposals. The webinar, about an hour long, presents a detailed, step-by-step process for presenting the case for online testing. “Essentially, we say that online marketing is testing,” said MEC Labs Strategy Analyst Isaac Newlin. “A lot of these companies don't know what's going on, they put up a Web page and they don't know the effect the page is having on the users. So we're giving the marketing manger the tools to be able to prove to upper management that you can test your efforts and prove what's effective.” MEC Senior Analyst and Director of Strategy Jalali Hartman agreed, saying that since the advent of the Internet, the barrier for entry in marketing has become really low. “People stopped taking the approach they took with direct marketing, where they cared about every word and graphic, because now they weren't risking millions of dollars. The mentality of experimentation and microtesting was lost.”

Result: Hartman said that the webinar has been an internal success story. With about 6,000 subscribers to the educational aspects of the MEC site, any given live webinar has between 200 and 600 people in attendance, he said. The company has received positive feedback from companies including Reuters and “They're realizing that you want to test as much as possible to make sure you were going to get the best response possible,” Hartman said. “These are Fortune 500 companies with millions of dollars on the line, so we're showing them that the best way to make a case for testing is to show conversion rates.” Increase that conversion rate just a half percent and it could mean millions of dollars in revenue without any new advertising. Now that should get their attention.

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