Feedback loops in marketing is such a hidden gem.
But as with many complex systems, there are multiple subtopics to explore and simplify.
The most interesting aspect of it is that it is a system that changes by the actions of the past.
In other words: Building a system based on feedback loops is building a system that gets better tomorrow.
That’s the power of feedback loops in marketing.
It’s the magic that happens when sales, customer success, product and marketing gathers to create a self-evolving, resilient system.
It gets stronger as it grows, almost like a life form.
I spoke to Francois Bondiguel, growth lead at Canva about this. Here's the video:
Let's go further and look at the two types of feedback loops:
The two types of feedback loops in marketing
When positive, the output feeds back to the system and reinforces it. When negative, the system adds the negative feedback into the output.
An important use case of feedback loops is solving the challenges of collaborating with peers in other departments.
It can be tough to establish a system that collects insights from sales and customer success synchronously. To get an understanding of the many use cases of your product, it’s essential that you build that system.
The thing about sales and CS is that they talk with people who have all the properties of your target audience. Every single day.
Gathering this info is crucial for your messaging.
You can do this with the power of feedback loops. [link to Farnam Street]
Let’s dive deeper into the how-tos 👇
Experiential learning is an area where feedback loops in marketing play a very important role.
In fact, the whole philosophy of deliberate practice is strongly based on the process of getting frequent quality feedback.
I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better. - Elon Musk
What makes all the difference though, is the ability to make right decisions.
The right decision may not guarantee the desired outcome every time – but they increase your odds of success.
Perfect decision-making is next to impossible. What matters more are forward momentum and a tight, fact-based feedback loop to quickly recognize and reverse bad decisions.
We have to constantly incorporate feedback generated by our decisions and keep improving the process.
This is the idea of compounding.
Compounding is interesting because every incremental change goes back to the system and makes it slightly better – or more accurate. Allow this to happen for a long time and what you have effectively is a positive feedback loop in action.
A snowballing effect.
In contrast, you could change the messaging back and forth in response to every piece of new information. Or a slightly negative performance on a vanity metric.
This will only create a negative feedback loop for your system.
How to convince peers in other departments to be a part of the feedback loop
Getting other people to buy into your idea is about their understanding of their benefits from adopting your idea. It’s not about their beliefs on whether the idea is good or not, but what their incentives look like.
This needs to be clear before even making the initial pitch.
Remember that the feedback loop is not exclusively beneficial for marketers. All departments will gain validated insights they can use in their day-to-day.
Because a feedback loop is where you leverage crowdsourced insights – so be clear on how to produce inputs and outputs.
Here’s a visual representation of the feedback loop:
If you look at the right side of the loop, you’ll find the incentives for each department.
This is what you need to identify before preparing your pitch.
Incentives for sales within the feedback loop
The insights gathered from the feedback loop provides sales reps with assets directly linked to their own OKRs.
Make it clear that their contribution to the feedback loop will create scripts, battle cards, and objection handling templates that are suited for a very specific segment, and they will listen.
Tie that directly in with increasing NDAs, value assessments and opportunities, and they will take action.
The next step for you: Identify what insights you need from them to contribute to the feedback loop.
Look at the left side of the feedback loop, and you will find a good example:
What sales do every day is talking with prospects on the phone, video calls, and email. All you need to do is make them gather the things they hear often. It’s about recognizing patterns and repurposing them into the feedback loop.
Incentives for customer success within the feedback loop
Use the same method with CS as you do with sales. Align the OKRs they are measured by to underline their incentives for participating in the feedback loop.
By getting insights from marketing and sales, customer success will get enough validated information to create material for renewals. This, in turn, helps reducing churn.
CS can also create email cadences that can increase platform engagement for users, which also affects net promoter scores.
Let’s look at the insights you can gather from CS for your marketing efforts:
As with sales, CS talks with users at the other end of the spectrum: The prospects that ended up becoming customers.
From their daily conversations, you’ll be able to know what use cases for your platform are the most talked about on a daily basis.
Connect this with sales’ conversations with would-be customers, and it becomes easy to identify what your audience cares about the most.
Feedback from sales and CS are now established.
But what can you as a marketer do to gather similar insights, when you don’t speak to prospects or customers every day?
Incentives for marketing within the feedback loop
A static place where you can get familiar with the areas of importance of your target audience are classifieds.
Simply search for the job title you’re targeting and gather 10 job ads from the same vertical. See what the key responsibilities are, and look for patterns between them.
Pull them up to a spreadsheet and categorize 5-6 patterns, and copy/paste from the classified ad directly:
Present the different areas of responsibilities with CS. Ask them whether they get a lot of questions pertaining to some of them. Mark the ones CS hear the most in red and now you have validated the most frequent/important ones.
Now you have powerful insights that enables you to create assets that tie in to your own OKRs:
The outcome of one department’s OKRs are connected to another department’s OKRs. There are no silos in that regard.
Once that’s understood, it becomes easier to understand something fundamental in marketing.
The information being gathered every day from all departments are extremely valuable. It needs to be aligned.
If this doesn’t align, it makes for one of the biggest missed opportunities in a company.
Feedback loops solves this challenge.