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A simple introduction to split testing (and how it can help your ROI)

A simple introduction to split testing and how you can use it to boost your advertising ROI

Split testing sounds incredibly scientific, doesn’t it? Well it kind of is but it’s also a fascinating way to find out what works – and what doesn’t – with regards to your advertising activities. After all, you’re spending a decent wad of cash on paid advertising campaigns; you don’t want to just throw your money up in the air and see where it lands.

What is split testing?

In a nutshell, it’s a way to determine which of multiple strategies is more effective. You start by segmenting a small part of your database into equal portions and then send a variant of the same advertisement to each segment. Once you determine which variant is most effective, you can then send that out to the remainder of the database. Alternatively, you can split test the entire campaign from the beginning, and use the results as a way to improve future campaigns.

Here’s an example

The subject line of an email is, arguably, the most important item of real estate in the whole message. After all, if it doesn’t capture the reader’s curiosity, it could get lost in a sea of other emails they receive that day. Your email subject line will determine your open rate, so one key measurable figure you can use to test the effectiveness of each of your split test options is to see how many people open each variant.

Boring: A message for you from Viking Tyres
Split test option 1: Your tyres are bald? Lucky we’re on sale!
Split test option 2: 30% off compact car tyres – today only

Boring: We’re looking for blood donors
Split test option 1: Free snacks, a short nap and save three lives … you in?
Split test option 2: 500mls of your lovely blood can save THREE lives this week

Don’t forget to track the results of your split testing

Remember that the goal of split testing is to see which version of your campaign delivers the best results, and to do that, you need to be able to track results. This can take a number of forms and will depend on your campaign goals. In some cases it could be that you would like visitors to visit a particular page of your site; another may be that you would like them to book a meeting, or it may be as simple as a purchase.

What aspects of a campaign can you split test?

Throughout an ad campaign, there are multiple points that can be plumped to be more powerful. Be mindful of split testing too many components at once, or you won’t be able to pinpoint exactly what change is that’s delivering better results.

Choice of images: Will provocative imagery or soothing, warm-and-fuzzy imagery be more effective? Could you swap out a couple of product photos for pics of people actually using the products? Consider two separate approaches as your A and B options and see which performs better.
Headlines: Option A could be hard-hitting and factual and option B could be a question that appeals to your audience’s sense of how it relates to them.
Use of graphics: Infographics, graphs, pie charts and tables don’t appeal to every person. Some prefer to digest their content in word form. Option A could be graphic-heavy and B could be word-heavy.
Calls to action: Experiment with different CTAs; not just the wording but the presentation as well. Whether it’s print or digital, the CTA could be red text on a white box or yellow text in a black circle. Try out different colours, shapes and sizes of ‘buttons’. Explore various versions of the text, such as: ‘Buy now, ‘Shop now’ or ‘Click here to purchase; or ‘Make a booking’, ‘Book now’ or ‘Claim your appointment here.
Length of the message: In a campaign with greater volume such as a blog post, landing page or direct marketing flyer, you can experiment with the length of the message. Short, sharp and concise may be perfect and bring you lots of conversions. Or, you may find that a longer, more detailed approach works better. Split testing will help you figure it out.
Freebie offers: Sometimes, the promise of a free product or service can get fingers clicking or dialling furiously. At other times, it can cheapen an offer. The same goes for ‘limited time only deals. Or, you can try out both. Create a free product offer for option A and a ‘limited time only’ offer for option B. The results could surprise you.
Testimonials: If you’re trying to decide whether a long-format or short-format campaign would be best, one way you can lengthen the item is by inserting authentic customer testimonials. They could be text-based only or could feature a photo of the customer and, if a business, the business’s logo. Quality over quantity is key to whether short- or long-format is best.
Hoops to jump through: Often, the more steps you expect your readers to take in order to perform the action you want them to perform, the more likely you are to lose them along the way. Requiring them to fill out too many fields in a form, expecting too much personal information and having them click through to another new tab are all barriers to conversion. But try the split approach and see which works for your particular audience.

Hopefully, by now, you understand what split testing is and how you can test it out on your own next marketing campaigns. If you need help or would like Emroy Creative Group’s in-house marketing expert to help with your strategy, head over here.