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Set your Controls and Improve Your Results with Proper Direct Marketing Testing

A recent e-zine subscriber wrote: “Plenty of people tell us to test but nobody tells us how!”

Ford responds:

In a nut shell, you’re testing all of the time, but you might not know it because you’re not tracking your leads, conversions, sales, responses, clicks or profits.

The purpose of testing is to set a “control” or baseline and then work to improve the results.

Before we get into the techniques of testing it’s important to clarify the basic components:

  1. The List – “Who” are sending your “marketing message” to?
  2. The Offer – What” is your Marketing Message – the sales copy.
  3. The Creative – “How” is the message packaged or delivered to your prospects? Direct Mail, email, display advertisement, website, etc.
  4. Key coding the response mechanism or action step – special tracking link, extension number, “ask for Chris” or method of identifying the result.

This topic could be a 5-day seminar, but my outcome here is to get you up to speed quickly so you can understand the process and get testing right away to improve your marketing and sales results. The list of elements you can test is practically endless. You can test headlines, offers, pricing, colors, packaging, lists, dates, delivery method and so on.

Three levels of direct marketing testing sophistication:

Level One: Simple A / B split testing.
Testing one component against another to see which one is more effective. Let say you have a list of 5000. You could do this by sending out 2500 offers with Headline A and 2500 offers with Headline B. Track the responses and you’ll have a winner. That becomes your “control” and you test again with the control as “A” and change one element on “B”. We use: for split testing website landing pages.

Level Two: Multivariate or Multi-variable Testing.
A bit more complicated—We only do this type of testing for Internet Marketing and our websites because of the many software tracking tools that make it easy. You change more than one element at a time and run the test to see which combinations produce the best results. Can be risky if you’re not careful and have the proper tracking methods set up to record your results. I suggest you first master the A/B split testing before you move on to more complicated testing methods.

Level Three: The Taguchi Method or Advanced Automated Optimization (AAO)
We only use this method through third-party service providers that specialize in helping to improve website landing page conversions. While it was developed over 50 years ago, it’s mainly applied now for internet marketing and direct mail. The Taguchi Method takes a number of elements on a web page or mail piece with one or more alternatives for each element and dictates exact combinations that will allow you to estimate the positive or negative effect of each alternative. Taguchi tests can be been run on email, PPC ads and Landing Pages with great success. Where an A/B Split Test might create a 5-10% improvement, a Taguchi test cycle will regularly return 25-45% improvement and has been known to improve results by 100% or more. A couple resources I suggest checking out would be: or There are several others… just search “Taguchi Method” on Google®.

Start with the strategy of TEST >> TRACK >> MODIFY >> REPEAT. Test an element. Track the results. Modify something. Repeat the test again. Testing will help you quickly and easily quantify your results and improve your profits!

For more resources on internet & direct marketing visit: Saeks, Marketing “How-to” Specialist.

Author Byline: Ford Saeks, Business Growth Specialist, Keynote Speaker, Author and Consultant. Helping you find, attract, and keep your customers.

December 27, 2006 Posted By : Ford Saeks


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