How to Run Quick and Easy Tests to Optimize Your Marketing
If you’re not testing your marketing efforts, you could be missing out on big opportunities to improve conversions and sales. Learn how you can boost your marketing with these easy-to-follow testing tips!
By Jessica Celenza January 29, 2015
You’ve probably heard time and time again about the concept of testing and optimization (a.k.a conversion rate optimization or CRO). But if you’re not quite sure what it means, that’s okay.
Optimization refers to the process of improving your marketing efforts in order to maximize your desired business outcome. In other words, it’s all about testing and refining your marketing tactics to ensure they’re delivering the best results possible.
How effective is it, you wonder? According to Optimizely, SaaS companies saw a 17 percent increase in customer engagement after optimizing their websites. As for ecommerce businesses, they saw a 21 percent increase in revenue. And that’s only a small glimpse into the possible benefits.
So what does that mean for you and your business?
Improving tactics such as content, visuals and headlines, allows you to better communicate with your audience. When you have clear website copy, for example, it becomes easier for visitors to understand how your brand can help them and the best ways to get that help.
Testing also gives you a sense of which marketing tactics are and are not working — which can help you save time and money in the long run.
Ready to get started? Here’s what you should know.
Assess your marketing performance.
To determine what you should test, you’ll want to review your analytics. Take some time to evaluate the current performance of your marketing campaigns and website to identify what has the biggest opportunity for improvement.
While there are hundreds of ways you can improve your digital marketing, it’s important to focus on one area at a time. If you find that your blog, paid search, and email marketing could all use a boost, you might want to build a list of areas to test and work your way down.
Other marketing tactics you could test include social media (e.g. paid ads), your website funnel (e.g. site traffic, bounce rate, conversion rate) and any lead generation efforts. If you offer an incentive such as a white paper to collect email addresses, optimization can help you improve its effectiveness.
Your testing checklist.
Once you’ve chosen an area to test, be sure to keep these best practices in mind before you begin:
Create a hypothesis. Remember writing hypotheses for science experiments during your school years? Here’s when that old skill comes in handy. For every test you perform, it’s important to have a clear idea of what you’re testing, why you’re testing it and what you think the outcome will be. This not only helps you stay organized, it also allows you to learn from each test.
NEVER assume you know the answer. While hypotheses are important to any test, remember that they are simply guesses. As marketers, business owners and experts in our fields, we have a tendency to think we know what’s best. However, what we think is right may not always be right for the customer. Be open to testing new ideas and tactics — you never know what you might learn about your audience.
Run your tests long enough. In order to know whether or not an increase or decrease in performance is real or skewed due to not having enough data, you have to make sure your test results reach statistical significance. (After all, statistical significance is the key to testing!). Many experts say to run your test for at least two full business weeks to account for varying performance on days of the week, holidays, business cycles, etc.
For those of you who fell asleep in your Stats 101 course, there are plenty of tools that can help you figure out the success of your A/B test. You can try this split testing calculator to get the info you need!
Isolate changes as often as possible. While there are several testing options, the standard A/B split testing (testing only two different versions) is the most common and easiest to implement. If you throw in a bunch of new details, such as a new headline, image, CTA copy and pricing information, it’s going to be difficult to say which change affected the conversion rate and why. Test one change at a time so you can see which change works and what doesn’t.
Don’t give up because your test failed. A failure in the world of testing is still extraordinarily valuable to any business! It gives you an opportunity to discover what doesn’t work. Think about it: If you want to change your CTA from “Learn More” to “Buy Now,” performing a test is the only way to know if the change will truly be effective. If you just rolled out the change, your website might have performed at a lower rate and you wouldn’t have known why.
ALWAYS test! Just because you see success in a few tests doesn’t mean you should consider your testing program complete. There is always room for improvement, and there may be other tactics or details that can be tested. To maintain a steady testing cadence, try launching a new test within a week of completing the last one.
3 ideas to start testing today!
If you’re thinking about trying a test or two of your own, here are a few ideas you can easily implement:
1. Create urgency in messaging. We tried it here at AWeber and found that simply adding the word “now” to our call to action increased trial signups by 12.8 percent!
2. Try different colors. Researchers have discussed the psychology behind color for years, so it’s no surprise that specific colors are used to convey certain meanings or influence consumer behavior too. Green, for example, triggers different emotional response than red, yellow or blue. It’s often associated with taking action (think of the meaning of a green traffic light) or nature. When creating an offer to customers, consider the color of the button, text or even background to evoke specific actions from your audience.
3. Add customer testimonials. Social proof goes a long way in gaining the trust of new customers. Real examples of how your product or service has helped current customers can positively impact new business.
Do you have other test ideas of your own? Share them in the comments below!