hippo yelling

Look around your office – it’s a jungle. When it comes to weighing making decisions, there are your sharks (the ones who instill fear into your hearts), the monkeys (the young mischievous ones), and then there are the HiPPOs – the Highest Paid Person with an Opinion.

As a 125-pound Asian, I am terrified of HiPPOs. Who wouldn’t be? These men and women are at the top of the corporate jungle and are paid the big bucks (money, not antelope) for their expertise and opinions. But while I respect every HiPPO’s authority and experience, that doesn’t make their opinions infallible. Many entry-level marketers fear the HiPPOs in their office, but it’s important to overcome. Without critically analyzing people’s opinions, you may be hindering your own results.

Through my own experiences, I’ve learned the necessity of speaking up in a room full of people you admire, especially when it can make a difference to your marketing results.

The Situation

A few months ago, I was in charge of the email marketing campaign driving registration for our company roadshows. I had written the email copy for one of our events. When I sent the email copy to get approved, it came back with the first sentence hyperlinked and a longer first paragraph.

From previous experiences with these types of emails, I had a feeling that these small changes would drive lower registrations, even though they seemed innocuous. The longer first paragraph pushed the “register” button further down, sometimes below the fold on mobile or tablet devices. A hyperlinked first sentence can come off as too sales-y, because the reader sees the hyperlink before they understand the message.

In most circumstances, when someone of authority tells me to jump, I go get a trampoline so I can jump higher for them. In this instance, however, I overcame my fear, and we worked together to get better marketing results.

The Approach

In approaching my own HiPPO, I wrote an email saying I was happy to accept the feedback and send it out. In addition to that, however, I said that I would like to test it against another email copy to see which one drove higher registration. Because we had a series of roadshows, this was the perfect environment to use testing as a way to prove a point.

Here is the original email, which we used to promote our event in Miami:

marketing roadshow

Here is the edited version, which we used to promote the same event in Santa Monica:

marketing roadshow 2

The Goal

At the end of the day, you and the HiPPO are on the same team, part of the same jungle. Even when you’re suggesting a different path, it’s important to remind the HiPPO that your objectives are the same. In this case, I made it clear that my goal was to get as many people to register for our events as possible, which I knew was also the HiPPO’s goal.

The Results

Speculations can come off as entitled opinions, especially when (like me) you’re a member of Generation Y. If you can back your ideas up with data, however, you can be extremely persuasive. The results were as follows:

Email 1:

email 1 results

Email 2:

email 2 results

As you can see, my original email had a click-to-open rate of 18.9%, compared to the edited email’s click-to-open rate of 11.3%. The difference in terms of registration was only four people, but those four people are often the difference between hitting your registration goal and not.

The benefits of testing extend beyond your ability to prove or disprove a hypothesis. As we’ve blogged about in the past, testing is one of the most powerful ways to convince your team to try something new. For entry-level marketers, you can overcome your fear of expressing opinions if you’re able to support them with data. Because I was able to show the results of the emails, I persuaded my manager to use the first email instead of the second email for the rest of our roadshow invites.

The Conclusion

Although my intuition proved correct in this instance, I am also very aware that it could have been the other way around. The numbers don’t always fall in my favor.

The lesson to be learned isn’t about who is right or who is wrong. The lesson is that entry-level marketers should always evaluate a person’s opinion and try to approach the situation the way I did. Validate the person’s opinion, use testing to validate your own opinion, and then follow up with results to be persuasive.

So, the next time there’s a HiPPO in the office, put away the tranquilizer! Instead, use testing to back up your opinion, and achieve your marketing goal.