From “How Split-testing Helps Your Marketing Campaigns” we shared the importance of using the split testing method –also known as A/B testing— to gain solid, reliable data on what gets positive responses from your target market, and from that make continuous improvements to your marketing campaigns. We also explained the important of split testing in gaining and developing insight into what makes your customers tick, which is crucial to business revenue and longevity.
In this post we’ll share the best practices when it comes to using the split-testing process, the principles to remember to keep your marketing progress steady and your results relevant and useful. Just as with every strategy, there are proven ways and means to conduct split testing for solid, trustworthy data. Here are what you need to consider:
Stick to the scientific method
Design rigid testing protocols with tools that you can trust so you can be sure that you can rely on your testing and data-gathering process.
- Keep records, impeccable records. You cannot make good decisions based on flawed data.
- If the results of a test sit ill with you, run it again, but don’t fudge with the data because it doesn’t tell you what you want to hear.
- With all the variables you can test, replicability and pattern determination can change with each variable, so build a library of your studies (tests, results, and analysis) from which to refer to and learn from.
Tap the hive mind, ask your team
Working alone can help you move fast, but when you tap your coworkers, you’re leveraging the group’s multiple experience and insight to get a more balanced view of the whole picture. When creating tests for a marketing campaign, different people can give different insights as to what elements, variable and options to consider, and could point out things you missed, or overlooked. This is especially apt when you’re consulting people who occupy the front lines and are in the position to immediately observe the effects of previous campaigns on your target audience.
Analyze the whole customer experience.
When you focus on checking variables on things like webpages and emails, you can miss the impact of the whole context on the customer. Yes, split-testing can optimize a webpage, or an email, but you need to check every stage of customer impact. For a car mechanic doing a general check-up, to check the windshield-wipers and the engine but not check the brakes is just not done, so when you’re taking the temperature of your audience when it comes to your campaigns, why ignore the other aspects that affect the overall impact of the the customer experience?
Change one thing at a time, no more, no less.
There’s a reason why it’s also called A/B testing. While there are two choices to check out, there are only two choice of one element. You can test blue vs. gray of the background color of your main webpage, not blue vs. gray of the main webpage and your landing page.
Testing one element at a time ensures that you have only two variables (A and B) to account for with affecting the results.
Slow and steady gets the good stuff.
You want to make sure you have reliable data, you don’t hurry the process. Hurrying can get an incomplete view of the results, and split testing needs to be accomplished in a particular order to make sure that the data collection is as thorough, unbiased, and as solid as you can get it. You can’t get a reliable conclusion from preliminary data, just as you can’t get the whole picture from seeing only part of it.
Don’t be too attached to the results.
Part of the testing process includes setting a hypothesis, and not every test will prove you right each time. That’s normal. Testing is a way to find out what is more effective in getting the results you want, and using that information to improve bit by bit. It might feel like hit-or-miss, but every miss shows you what not to aim for, just as every hit does the opposite. Enjoy the learning process while working your way towards the goal.
Be thorough and finish.
Don’t celebrate at the first sign of ‘good news’, wait till the full picture develops. The more time you give for data collection, the more data points you gather, and the stronger the foundations on which you can build your analysis and recommendations for further action.
If in doubt, test again.
Part of the scientific process is rigorous testing. Gathering data can be automated, and there are programs to help with the analysis, but if you have a gut feeling that the results aren’t quite solid, then don’t hesitate to run the test again. Don’t go for the data that tells you what you want to hear, get the data that gives you the real picture of what you’re dealing with. Solid data will make for good intel, and good intel gives you an edge up on the competition.
The split-testing process is a strategy that pays out over time. With the marketing team, split tests can help develop confidence in their insight of the customer’s mind. Split testing won’t let you assume things about your market, it helps you let go of those assumptions and understand better how your customers really think about your products or services. It helps challenge any hypotheses you can make and keep you in touch with the changing times. You’re more responsive to the effects of trends, thereby making you responsive to your market: you keep current. You don’t let yourself get outdated and left behind.
With split-testing, you can get real-time responses to your marketing that you can also adjust in real-time. This way you’re positioned to take advantage of the opportunities to get the most conversions and sales for your time and labor. You learn something new, you get to push for continuous improvement and you become better at marketing. Any way you put it, A or B, you come out ahead.
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