There’s this great Italian restaurant in my neighborhood where I always order the chicken alfredo. I know it’s gonna be great. I know the portion size, I know the wine pairing. What I don’t know, is how much cheese is in the lasagna, or how much sauce is on the spaghetti. I haven’t tried anything else because I keep running back my first order. I want to branch out, but by switching things up, I risk a cheese coma, heartburn, and an overall sub-par dinner experience. On the other hand, the lasagna could be amazing. Decisions, decisions…

What’s my move? Maybe I scan the room to see what other people ordered. Maybe I fire up the WIFI and read some reviews. When the server comes by, I could lay all the cards on the table and work to a decision together.

Through these steps, I’ve acknowledged the risk of deviating from the alfredo. I’ve researched my other options, and I’ve communicated my concerns with the server. In digital marketing, we’re always trying new things and we approach them in the same way. What is the risk in trying InMail versus running more sponsored content? What are the benefits of AdRoll Prospecting versus a general retargeting setup? Are these benefits worth deviating from our previous tactics?

Before venturing into uncharted territory with new tools and strategies, take a step back and analyze your approach.

Why are you trying new things?


In the age of agile, things move quickly. Tactics are constantly being torn down and rebuilt to be more effective, efficient, and profitable. If you’re not tapped into the cutting edge of ad trends, tools, and strategies, you’ve lost a serious competitive advantage. Where would you be if you got in on the Internet before any of your competitors? Where would you be if you were the last to get in on the internet?

Apart from keeping up with the Kardashians competition, it’s important to give your market new looks. There’s a reason why companies don’t run the same commercials for years on end. As your market grows less responsive to your messaging, you need to try new ways to regain their attention.


To try new things is to learn. Can you really say with certainty what works best for your campaign if you’ve only tried a fraction of your options? When AdRoll rolled out their Prospecting tool to all users, we hit it almost immediately with an A/B test. The results? More impressions and a lower CPC than our general retargeting campaign. Sounds great for your next awareness campaign! By trying new tactics, you establish a basis of comparison to really gauge what’s effective. In our A/B test, our general campaign banked a $0.74 cost per click. That looks great, until you see Prospecting post a $.057. I see you, Prospecting!

It’s true, you never really know until you try. Trying new things establishes benchmarks and opens the door to new opportunities to mix and match tactics, diversify ad spend, and more.

How to approach new things?

Sometimes it’s best to approach new things with a “jump right in” mentality. This isn’t one of those times. When ad spend is on the line, you want to be the helicopter parent checking Halloween candy for tampering, not the cool aunt who’s down with house parties.


The first step is to assess the risk of deviating from the norm. With marketing, you can start with, “What’s the worst that could happen?” and get granular from there. How many leads can I risk by putting them in my focus group? How much money can we put behind an experiment? How could this affect tactics down the funnel?

If you’re a digital marketer, you have to work with your client to establish these ground rules. If you’re a company working with an agency, be sure your risk is calculated, and your campaign isn’t being treated as a guinea pig.


We’re not in the business of trying new things for the sake of trying them. When I order my chicken alfredo, I’m not pairing it with an orange juice just to see how they mesh. There needs to be a method to the madness, a rationalization as to why this is the time and campaign to go off course.

I already mentioned exhausting your market. If you’re running email campaigns, track the unsubscribes and unopens closely over time. These metrics will shed light on the reception of your audience and whether they’ve grown tired of your approach. If they have, spice things up! If you’re running a big budget campaign, consider pulling a small amount from other tactics to fund a test run. Apart from these campaign characteristics, consider the goal outcome of the campaign and whether it fits the intended use of that new platform. If it has poor targeting, it probably isn’t right for ABM.


Maybe I order the bolognese instead of the alfredo, and while delicious, it proves to be too heavy for lunch. It zaps my productivity for the day and is a net loss. Sure, it took my meal from a 9 to a 6, but I learned bolognese is perfect for a late night dinner.

When you’ve taken a risk with a new ad platform, there’s always the chance things could fall flat. If that happens, turn it into a learning experience and go deep with your retrospective reporting. Part of digital marketing’s appeal is it’s trackability. Gone are the days of sending prints in the mail and crossing your fingers. Most tactics can be tracked and connected to measurable outcomes. Find out what worked and what didn’t, so you can better understand how the tactic functions and where it would be best applied.

So get out there and try new things

When it comes to trying something new, there’s always an underlying risk. “Go with what you know” is a popular phrase for a reason, there’s safety in familiarity. When you’re feeling a little dangerous, it’s important to assess the risk, do the research, and communicate. Digital marketing is all about staying ahead of the game, so nothing is as dangerous as standing still.