By Sue Brady
Any direct marketer worth their salt knows how important it is to test on a regular basis. Testing is your path to improved marketing results. But how do you know what’s worthwhile to test? The biggies from the offline world mostly apply in the online one: Offer, copy and creative, in that order. But there are a million things that are worth testing. If you are fortunate to have a steady stream of visitors to your website, you can learn things on a daily or weekly basis. For instance, think about testing the critical elements on your home page:
- The call to action button and location
- The location of the phone number on your home page
- Your website headline
- Your website hero image (the primary image, usually at the top of your home page)
- The order and description of your product benefits
- The placement of your offer
These elements can be tested using A/B testing methodology or using multivariate testing. The difference between those two is that with A/B testing, you are evaluating one element change at a time. It’s called A/B because A is your control (the version currently being used) and B is the new test. With multivariate you are able to test a number of things at one time. This can be very useful if you have a highly trafficked site and can swap multiple elements in and out in a controlled manner. And there are over-arching tests you should be doing as well, such as sending a searcher to a landing page vs landing on your website directly, or using different landing pages for specific ad groups from your search campaign (with dynamically generated keyword specific content).
In addition to driving online conversions, most websites offer a toll-free number for prospective customers to call. The call center that receives those calls is another place where testing can and should happen. Phone technologies are readily available that allow you to A/B test scripting, call routing or other key elements. You might want to test something quickly and on a small scale, and there are ways to do that too. For instance, my employer, RM Factory offers a service called iQueue. iQueue is a cloud-based mini call center that allows for highly controlled testing and optimizations of offers, copy, scripting, and positioning. Sometimes the larger call centers don’t want to take on small programs, but a mini test lab like iQueue can take care of that.
It’s always fun to test into a new winner. Here are some surprise winners (highlighted in green) on programs that I’ve worked on. The control is listed first:
- $200 rebate vs Free installation (free is the most powerful word in direct marketing, so this one really shouldn’t have come as a surprise)
- Image with no person vs image with a person
- Red type vs green type (color matters!)
- Website with corporate focus vs customer focus (actually, this one came as no surprise)
- Staid, talking head DRTV ad vs humorous ad
Please share your testing surprises in the comments section below!