Testing just might be the small business marketers’ greatest tool – and yet, so few take the time to do it at all. As marketers, we all have opinions. We believe some content will perform better than others or that our audiences will respond to one message over another. Unfortunately, these opinions are based on our personal preferences or biases instead of actual testing.
Marketers usually understand the benefit of testing, but oftentimes, they don’t know where to begin. The limitless possibilities for testing make it difficult to plan and organize tests in a timely and efficient manner. Keep reading for some valuable tips to always be testing in your marketing efforts.
Schedule your tests
Creating a calendar is essential to managing your tests. You can keep track of your tests and ideas planned out by month. Rotate your control group and modifications as well as any new creative.
Prioritize your tests
You probably have plenty of ideas when it comes to testing, but not all of them are immediately necessary. The goal is to maximize the level of impact for a test in relation to the level of effort it requires.
Make the most of your time and manpower by determining which tests can provide incremental improvements. Prioritize tests that offer a higher impact but require a lower level of effort.
Test what you can track
If you cannot measure the results of a test, it is pointless. Before you plan a test and start making changes, ensure you can track the results. Whether you compare a control group to a test group, track changes in revenue or orders, monitor conversion rates, or compare site visits, there should be metrics involved. Determine your measuring stick before you start testing.
Set up your tests
Properly setting up tests and monitoring them is crucial to the testing process. Whether you are testing copy or creative, your setup will impact the accuracy of your results. Follow these tips to accurately run tests.
- Balance test groups and control groups for A/B testing. It is tempting to increase your test group in order to maximize your earning potential. However, balancing the groups is important to gain meaningful results.
- Keep your groups identical. This is the only way to ensure your results are accurate. Once you define your segment, you should randomly assign people to both groups. Often, your email service provider can handle this task for you.
- Only test one variable at a time. Eliminate other variables to ensure that the one you are testing is the source of your impact. Cluttering up your tests can confuse results and nullify your entire test.
Set your goals
Before you start a test, identify your goals and objectives. You probably have a hypothesis or how you think the test will turn out. Once your test is complete, you can compare the results to your hypothesis and goals.
What should you test?
One of the hardest things for marketers to decide is what to test. You probably already have a lot of ideas on things to test, but which tests will maximize your impact? Most tests can be filed into two categories: copy and creative.
Copy testing can ensure your campaigns or advertisements connect with your audience before you officially launch a campaign. Creative testing allows you to compare image and copy combinations to determine which ones provide the best results.
Testing copy can provide the best results for your search engine marketing, website, campaigns, and emails. In some cases, a single word can make the difference between a message that resonates with your audience and one that falls flat.
Follow these tips to make the most of your copy testing efforts:
- Test your headlines on your website to yield a high impact. Your headline should share your value proposition in a way that is clear and compelling.
- Test transactional messages on your site to reduce buyer uncertainty. These tests can also boost your conversion rates by managing expectations. Your goal is to guide customers through your site and checkout process.
- Test the tone of your copy. The tone of voice can make a difference and have a major impact on your audience. Your message should resonate with your target audience.
- Test ideas. It is possible that a word or two can make a big difference, however, ideas are generally more powerful. Your tests should have a purpose instead of choosing words randomly.
Testing creative is usually referenced in terms of ads. If you purchase banner ads, you want to get the most bang for your buck. Optimize your creative through A/B testing. The following tips can help improve your creative tests.
- Test bigger changes first. Testing your value proposition or image first can help you home in on the right message before changing button colors. While both types of tests have value, the order of testing is important to maximize results.
- Be prepared to invest. Testing creative can get expensive. Have a clear budget prepared in order to maximize your ROI.
- Choose your metric. Are you testing click-through rate, cost per action, or something else? Design your tests with your metric in mind.
Most marketers understand the importance of testing, but they do not know where to start. In many cases, the endless options available for testing copy and creative result in paralysis and nothing gets tested.
The best advice is to take things one step at a time. Prioritize your ideas and define your goals to get the most out of your testing efforts. The key to the Always Be Testing methodology is to keep testing. Have the next test in the queue, ready to go!