Everywhere you look in marketing, people are talking about testing. Testing is the best way to get better results! Testing and Learn, they say. But testing takes time and effort. Before diving in, you need to ask yourself: should I be testing in the first place?
For example, if you’re testing content offers (perhaps an infographic vs. a whitepaper), then you’re going to have to double the amount of effort behind content creation. For most organizations, content creation is a 4-8 week undertaking. It’s a worthy commitment, and some companies I work with are great at content creation so testing content offers is easy for them. But if you’re like one of my many clients where getting enough content done to support your efforts is difficult, testing these kind of offers may be out of the question.
Teams that are bandwidth constrained might be better served on focusing on executing one email offer really well, with great partnership and follow-up from the sales team instead of splitting their focus into multiple offers.
But what about testing simple things, like subject lines? Most marketing automation platforms make subject line tests easy to implement so it seems like a no-brainer. But before attempting even these simple kinds of tests, you need to make sure you’re going to get actionable results.
Here are a few things to think about to make sure that your investment in testing delivers the impact intended.
- Ensuring statistically significant results
If you’re considering a test, there are three important things to consider to ensure your results are statistically significant:
- Volume – how many people are in each of your segments? Is your database large enough to give you statistically viable results once you split it into groups and test?
- Conversion rate – how many successes are you going to get (and be able to measure)?
- Difference between the segments – It’s hard to predict outcomes if the test results are similar across segments. If they’re too close to call, and you can’t determine a clear winner, then the test is a bust.
In order to mitigate risk, you can always increase the volume of the segments being tested to ensure your results are accurate. There are some great A/B Test Calculators that free you up from doing the math yourself. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for an easy to use A/B Test Calculator.
- Do I have the operational capacity to support testing?
Ask yourself: will the extra effort to create tests (and the content to support them!) result in a MEASURABLE improvement in results that justifies the extra effort? Besides considering volume, conversion rate and differences, you need to think:
- Do I have the capacity to create the necessary assets to support testing?
- Do I have the capacity to manage the campaign logistics to support testing?
- Make sure your test will result in some kind of incremental benefit you care about before moving forward. Higher engagement does not always result in higher business results. The deeper into the funnel you go to test, the more accurate your results will be.
One of my cautions to teams that are just starting out with demand generation is to focus on doing a few things well. Testing is great and should definitely be part of your plan. However, if your team is still struggling to get a single, error-free email out on time, perhaps it’s best to focus on the basics first.
- And, finally is the ROI there to justify testing?
Additionally, the improved results from testing may not be significant enough to offset the increased effort required to implement the tests. Remember the earlier example on the content test? Well, if you double the costs of running the program (2 content offers instead of one) and your test doesn’t result in enough increased revenue to offset these costs, then you have not really improved the results of your marketing efforts, which was the reason to do testing in the first place. Right?
And I add one more thing before you start to test: Do you have your baselines measured? Do you know your conversion rates through the funnel? Do you have the ability to measure your test results through closed-won business or at least a pipeline that’s been created? If these sorts of measurement processes are not set up to have accurate baseline metrics for your relevant channels, then you definitely are not ready to start testing!
Go for it!
The only way to keep improving your marketing is to test new approaches. Your decision-making abilities become clearer when you use data and run tests to see which tactics yield the best results.
What are you going to test? Please share what you’re testing and how it goes!
And if you want more information on testing, please read my other blog post on testing.