One of the best ways you can maximize returns and be on top of your business’s performance is using what your performance data is telling you. Analytics programs can show you results and statistics gathered from clicks, open rates, impressions, return rates and sales, but at certain key points you can get a glimpse of what actions provide the best returns on investment and redirect your efforts. And one of the key turning points involve split-testing.
Competition is fierce, and it’s within your control to carve out any edge and advantage which would translate into revenue via customer engagement. The answer doesn’t lie in the obvious — what is ‘obvious’ may not stand up under closer examination . Sometimes our advantages lies in small, overlooked things, like the way we design a webpage, or how we title an email’s subject line. Again, the ‘obvious answer’ may not actually work, which is which is why we have to test, test, and test.
How do you know your marketing campaigns are optimized to drive as many conversions possible? What are the metrics you use? If you have a marketing campaign and a target number of conversions, they provide a framework in which to see if the campaign is working.
Say you’re successful. Can you replicate that success with the next campaign? How do you know what elements contributed to the success and failure of the campaign if you don’t test? Effectivity is just as important as ROI, and to narrow down on the effective elements in your marketing you need to isolate them and double check to see which ones work and which ones don’t. You can’t guess your way to it. That’s why there’s split testing.
Also known as A/B testing, split testing is the most popular way to measure conversion, and should be an integral part of your marketing strategies. With split testing you have the following benefits:
- You can tweak your marketing campaigns rapidly, seeing what elements work and swiftly dropping the ones that don’t. You save time and labor when you get the feedback and learn which option to keep. In simpler terms, you practice “Ready, fire, aim.”
- You get a better insight into what draws your customer’s positive attention. With this you can adjust your content to be more in-tune with their concerns, likes, and dislikes. All of this helps boost your ROI.
Split testing is efficient and cost-effective. It helps you pin-point the elements that directly impact ROI and shift them to your favor.
What is split testing?
Just as the A/B implies, split testing compares two versions — A and B — of one campaign on one channel. By channel, we mean the method used to connect to your market. That includes: your website, social media, mobile apps, your ads, your landing page, and emails, just to name the most common ones. A campaign on these channels can cover things like the homepage design, the push notification on a mobile app, or your auto-responder’s confirmation and welcome email when a visitor opts-in to your mailing list.
The versioning tested here is two versions of one element. One version of an email may have a different subject line from the other. One version of a landing page may have a different call to action than its counterpart. One version of the push notification on a mobile app can have a different background color.
For example, you’re revamping your website to coincide with the release of the latest version of your product. So far, you’ve kept records and it shows that opt-ins have gone down over time, and you want to see if changing the color scheme of your site will help revitalize customer interest by implying a change in your company’s branding.
Your team members suggests Color Theme A and Color Theme B. Running a split test would measure the effects of the two themes and see which one has a bigger influence on things like click-through rates, page-visits, and conversions. You run the test: Theme A gets significantly more conversions than Theme B, and Theme B gets fewer conversions than the original theme. You know then which color to go with in the revamp.
A/B testing is about testing only one element at a time to ensure control over the results and be able to make solid conclusions. This avoids having too many variables to figure out. From the results of A/B testing, marketers can be able to see the effectivity of the chosen variable elements and use them to refine their campaign. Again, it goes back to testing — ready, fire, aim. In consistent testing, you make incremental improvements that pay out in delivering the best ROI possible for your efforts.
When you analyze the results of the split tests, you get the picture of what appeals to your customers and what engages their attention. This helps improve the customer engagement experience, gets the best gains for your marketing efforts, and you learn better ways to sell to your market.
A/B testing is meant to find out what works better with customers.
People react to what they find attractive by coming closer, and by responding. They don’t engage if they’re uninterested. You want to get closer to your customers, split testing can pave the way for better and stronger communication strategies. This in turn boosts marketing effectiveness and improves programs directed towards your market. You simply get better at selling to your customers.
When you keep working towards improving your marketing campaigns with split testing, you refine your approach by weeding out the things that have been tested and proven to be of no use towards your marketing goals, things that repel customers and don’t resonate with them. In the process you develop your sixth sense about your market’s preferences, and amass valuable market data about customer behavior, likes, and dislikes. All of this together can give you a more intuitive grasp of what drives your customers and you can use that to your advantage.
The Split-testing process
Testing begins with picking the elements to test and then going through the testing workflow. Only one element is examined at a time; this eliminates uncertainty when it comes to isolating which element, A or B, had the most significant response (positive or negative), which saves time.
Split testing can help you decide which message or copy gets the most positive responses from the audience, and determine which images influenced the most conversions. When it comes to split-testing, you can test nearly everything. The general areas are the messages, and the visuals.
- Email – The sender, the subject line, the greeting, the banner image, etc.
- Landing page – Your call to action (CTA) , background color, font, font size, font color, content length, video.
- Webpage – The location of your call-to-action buttons, the message on these CTA buttons (Ex. “Buy Now!” or “Add to cart”) Their colors, size and positioning.
- Content – Choice of headlines, content presentation (several pages, all on one page?), content length: short or long-form?
- Images – photographs, or illustrations, stand alone product, or product in use?
- Video – auto-play or click-to-play?
- Navigation – Horizontal or vertical layout?
There are hundreds of elements you can test, which is why A/B testing is so handy. You only test two versions at a time, and you can get the results fast. Once they’re in, you can adjust and go on to the next element you want to check out. You can test the placement of social media buttons on your website to get the most clicks. You can test which days of the week are the best days to send email to get the most open rates, and so on.
When you integrate split-testing as a marketing strategy, you need to understand that it has to be done on a consistent, regular basis to get the most out of it. Here’s the basic process:
Pick only one element to test. Choose one you think will have an impact on customer response. You can go for the high-impact channels that are key in customer engagement, like the first welcome email they get after signing up, or the sign-up page they’re directed to for opting in, or the landing page.
- Make a hypothesis as to what you think could happen as a result.
- Decide on the sample size and the target market. The larger the sample size, the more you can rely on the data . If you want to test an email, you can use your mailing list and halve it, with a test versions for each.
- Define what a successful result looks like with measurable metrics: the most open rates? The most click-through? The most sales?
- Run the test for a pre-set period (usually at least one week to rule out fluctuations within the first few days, and to get enough data in the sample size needed), collect the data, and examine the results. Which version performed better according to your definitions of success?
- Following the results, you can institute the desirable changes quickly and see the positive effects on your numbers.
Split testing is a tool to help your marketing team find out exactly what they need to tweak to make their campaigns more effective and provide added value. And since markets are affected by cycles and trends, consistently testing your campaigns means you can use all the hidden opportunities that’s unearthed to get higher conversion and sales ratings. Learn to use split testing well, and you have an invaluable tool to help you improve business performance and boost your returns.
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