Split Testing is the Key to Improving Your Marketing Results
Marketing is so much more than simply cranking out sales letters, post cards and e-mails to your customers. Granted, all of that is important, but without first establishing ways to test and track the effectiveness of your efforts, you’re basically using a completely random, “shotgun” approach and hoping everything works out okay.
It’s a critical issue that I can’t stress enough. No matter the type of business you’re in, the size of your organization or your marketing budget, testing and tracking of your marketing is essential. You’ve probably heard plenty of people tell you this, but how many of them have actually told you how to go about doing it? Well I’m about to do just that, so put your phone on “do not disturb” and close your office door.
The purpose of testing is to set a “control” or baseline, and then work to improve overall results. Chances are you’ve already been testing your marketing efforts all along; you just don’t realize it because you haven’t been tracking the results (leads, sales conversions, responses, clicks or profits) and then using those results to fine tune your marketing strategy.
Before I get into the techniques of testing, it’s a good idea to clarify the basic components, which are the List, the Offer, the Creative, and Key coding.
The List refers to “who” you are sending your marketing message to. The Offer is the “what” part of your marketing message (i.e., the sales copy). The Creative refers to “how” your message is packaged or delivered to your prospects (via direct mail, e-mail, display advertisements, your website, etc.). Key coding refers to identifying the built-in response mechanism (or action step). Key coding can be a special tracking link, an extension number, or even an old-fashioned “Ask for Chris” line of text that tells you where the response comes from.
The parts of your marketing you can test are practically endless. You can test headlines, offers, pricing, colors, packaging, lists, dates, delivery methods and so on. Comprehensively covering this topic could easily be a five-day seminar, so my goal here is to provide a brief overview to get you up to speed quickly so you can start testing and tracking right away to improve your marketing and sales results.
Now that we’ve identified the basic components, you need to know that there are three levels of direct-marketing testing sophistication.
Level One: Simple A/B split testing.
At its core, this means you test one component of your marketing against another to see which is more effective. For example, say you have a list of 5,000 leads you want to reach. You could do this by sending out 2,500 pieces of Offer A, and 2,500 pieces of Offer B. Track the responses you receive and you’ll see which approach (Offer A or Offer B) brought in the most leads. Use the more-successful offer as your “control,” and start new testing against a modified version of Offer B that has only one change made to it. For split-testing website landing pages I use www.HyperTracker.com/index/primeconcepts.
Level Two: Multi-Variable Testing.
This is a bit more complicated, so I only do this type of testing for Internet marketing and my websites because its software tracking tools make it easy. You change more than one element at a time here, and then compare the tests to see which combinations produce the best results. This can be risky if you’re not careful and don’t have proper tracking methods set up to record your results. I recommend you first master level one process (the A/B split testing) before you move on to more complicated testing methods.
Level Three: Taguchi Method or Advanced Automated Optimization (AAO).
I only use this method through third-party service providers that specialize in helping improve website landing-page conversions. Although this approach was developed more than 50 years ago, it’s mainly applied now for Internet marketing and direct mail campaigns.
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 allow you to estimate the positive or negative effect of each alternative. Taguchi tests can be been run on e-mails, PPC ads and landing pages with great success.
Where an A/B split test might generate a 5 to 10 percent improvement, a Taguchi test cycle regularly returns 25 to 45 percent improvement. It has been known to improve results by 100 percent or more in some cases. A couple resources I suggest checking out would be www.vertster.com or www.offermatica.com . There are several others, try searching the “Taguchi Method” on Google®.
Start testing and tracking your marketing materials and landing pages today.
It’s as easy as adopting the mantra “test… track… modify… repeat.” Chart the success of your next marketing piece with an A/B split test. Track the results, and then modify one single aspect of the less-effective offer. Repeat the test again. You’ll be amazed how quickly and easily you can use the results to improve your profits!