Testing Is Still An Important Part of Marketing

‘Almost any question can be answered cheaply, quickly, and finally, by a test campaign. This is the way to answer them, not by arguments around a table. Go to the court of last resort. The buyers of your product.’

– Claude Hopkins, one of advertising early experts and author of ‘My Life in Advertising’ and ‘Scientific Advertising’

You’ve heard it time and time again. Test – test – test. Claude Hopkins wrote these words decades ago. Are they still valid in today’s Internet world? You bet they are.

No one knows if a product will really sell unless you’ve tried to actually sell it to customers. Surveys are nice, but people’s votes only really count when they vote with their wallet.

Direct mail and other direct response pros have known for a long time about the value of testing. They test price points, teaser copy on the envelope, different bonuses and any number of other different variables. On-line marketers have the ultimate advantage of the direct mail practitioner because in the on-line world we can gauge the results of our testing almost instantly.

Hopkins’ said ‘There are many surprises in advertising. A project you will laugh at may make a great success. A project you are sure of may fall down. All because tastes differ so. None of us know enough people’s desire to get an average viewpoint.’

‘Not me,’ you say. ‘I know what my custom- ers want. I don’t need to test.’ So, how much money did you leave on the table today? Be- cause, if you’re not testing then you’re surely leaving money on the table.

What can you test? Here’s a short list.

  • Your headline
  • Your price point
  • Your bonuses
  • Long versus short copy
  • Your testimonials
  • Your upsell

Think you’ve got a winning headline? Test it. Run one headline for a week and a different headline the next week. Don’t change any other variables (important). Which headline had a better conversion rate? Go with the one that brought in more sales.

Testing in the on-line world is easier then the off-line world. So take advantage of the instant gratification you can receive and test – test – test. Because Claude told you so.

Your task: Identify at least three different variables you can test on your website. See the suggestions above. Determine what your specific tests are going to be and lay out your testing schedule. Be sure you have a way to measure the results.

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Bret Ridgway

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