marketing team working on a split test

When Testing New Channels, Should You Go Higher or Lower In The Funnel?

marketing team working on a split test

Growth—as we’re ALL too well aware at Tuff – is an ever-changing landscape. New platforms and channels are constantly emerging, and each of them promises untapped growth potential. With so many options, it’s often difficult for growth marketing teams to decide where to best allocate their resources: proven channels, new channels, or both?

This question often sparks a larger conversation. How many channels do we test at once? Which do we test first? What percentage of our marketing budget should we allocate to testing new channels? 

All of these are fair and important questions, and in this article, I’m going to talk about how we think about channel experimentation and testing at Tuff. 

Users > Channels

When we think about which new channels to pursue, or defining the right channel mix each month for our partners, it’s often helpful to reframe the conversation. Users, not marketing channels, are at the forefront of our decision-making. 

Our growth teams will start with the target audience and ask: Who are they? What channels are they most receptive to? From there, once we’ve built out value props, it’s a lot easier to select and test different growth campaigns. The channels with the potential to have the greatest impact are often the ones your target customers use the most. 

We also aren’t afraid to challenge oour assumptions. You might think that TikTok––probably the biggest new channel in recent years––is only really suited to selling eCommerce products. And it is a great platform for that. But at Tuff, we’ve also seen real success with TikTok campaigns for B2B and Fintech brands

When you’re building your campaign testing strategy, think users first, but keep your options open: new channels often surprise you. 

Full Funnel, Customer-First Approach

In any growth marketing strategy, different channels have different roles. Some channels are great at driving brand awareness that creates future demand for your products and services. Others are best suited to delivering that final nudge that makes customers convert. Understanding the role each channel plays in a full-funnel marketing strategy is key.

When we map out which campaign strategies fit best in each stage of your customer funnel, we make sure you’re using the right metrics to assess the performance of different campaigns. 

A top-of-funnel awareness campaign might not have a super high conversion rate, but that doesn’t mean it’s not playing an important role in your overall channel mix. Instead of using conversion-focused metrics to judge performance on these campaigns, we will use metrics like Cost Per Thousand Impressions (CPM), Click Through Rate (CTR), brand lift on search, and more. Top-of-funnel campaigns introduce potential customers to your brand and influence purchase decisions, and we judge their performance based on how well they do that. 

At the bottom of the funnel, users have high levels of purchase intent and often just need a nudge from a conversion-focused campaign to convert. For these campaigns, we will assess performance based on metrics like Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC), Conversion Rate (CVR), and last-click revenue. 

It can be tempting to focus all of your attention on improving conversion rates at the bottom of the funnel. Improvements here are the most noticeable: they directly contribute to your bottom line. But you have to create demand before you can capture it, and in order to grow, you need to reach beyond your existing audience and bring more traffic into the top of your funnel. 

Testing Strategy

Once we’ve decided which channels to test and determined the role they play at different stages of your marketing funnel, it’s time execute. Here are things we consider at Tuff when dialing in our campaign strategy: 

  • Budget: generally speaking, you should dedicate at least $5,000 – $10,000 in ad spend to testing out a new channel. Any less and it’s difficult to get concrete performance insights.
  • Bandwidth: launching new campaigns, regardless of the channel, takes a lot of work. Make sure your internal team or growth marketing agency has the bandwidth to spend time building and refining a detailed strategy for each channel––there’s no sense spreading your resources too thin and executing poorly.
  • Creative Assets: testing out entirely new channels often demands a range of specific creative assets. For some intent-based channels like Bing or Google where ads are text-based, you don’t need a big inventory of graphics and videos. But for channels like YouTube, TikTok, and Facebook, you definitely want a library of creative assets to test and optimize. 

In general, our testing strategies are typically geared toward producing quick learnings. Not every channel is a fit for every business. Our job as a growth marketer is to identify the channels that work for your business and then continuously test, iterate, and optimize that strategy. 

Tuff’s Approach to Testing New Channels

At Tuff, we’ve got the specialists to test just about any marketing channel you can think of: from Reddit to Spotify. 

When it comes to budget allocations, we like to invest 60-80% of your budget into improving established marketing channels that already work for your business, and 20-40% into testing new channels. 

As we test and learn, we cut what doesn’t work and scale what does.