One of my colleagues recently asked me, out of all the aspects of marketing including online marketing, marketing strategy, Web 2.0, market research, etc., what was the most important? Without hesitation I replied, “Testing”.
Many of my marketing friends might argue and profess that if you don’t have the right message, reach the right audience, the right timing, or the right offer, you won’t succeed. And to that I say ABSOLUTELY! In fact, those are the very elements of a successful campaign that can be identified through proper testing. So how do you know that your messaging is optimized or that you’re reaching your target audience in the most effective way possible? Only proper testing can give you that information.
When someone on my team says that a particular campaign was a success I ask, “how do you know?” The answer often has something to do with metrics around campaign performance. But this information is merely relative. If your click through rate was 20% and your conversion rate was 0.35% for an online campaign, it may have generated a positive return, but is 0.35% the best we could have done? Did we test the campaign to set expectations before full launch?
By testing multiple landing pages, post cards, direct mail packages, keyword campaigns, and other marketing campaigns, you can find what resonates best with your audience and set proper expectations for performance. Once you’ve established a baseline, continue to test and experiment with different messaging, timing, and offers and compare your results against your baseline. Then, when someone asks you how well your campaign performed, you can say good, bad, or indifferent based on real data.
A great example of this was a recent email marketing campaign completed by my team. They tested 3 subject lines – everything else remained the same (the list, the email creative, the price, the timing, etc.). During our test, one subject line outperformed the others 3 to 1. Wow! What a difference this made in our overall campaign performance when we sent the email to tens of thousands of potential customers.
Ongoing measurement and testing is essential for marketing success. If you’re not testing your marketing campaigns on a continuous basis, you’re missing out. Of course, once you establish a solid control (baseline), you’ll have a hard time out performing it. In general, you’ll only improve your success rate about 10% of the time. But continue to test, test, and test some more and you’ll see your knowledge and results increase.
About the Author
Michael Fleischner is an Internet marketing expert and founder of MarketingScoop.com. He has more than 13 years of marketing experience and has appeared on the TODAY Show, Bloomberg Radio, and other major media. Michael is also the author of SEO Made Simple: Strategies for Dominating the World’s Largest Search Engine and The Webmasters Book of Secrets: Improve Search Engine Rankings.
Marketing Tip…from Neville Pokroy
Isn’t it interesting that Michael’s belief of the most important aspect of marketing is not a marketing tactic in itself? In some respect I agree with this idea because it brings one back to the need to plan. You cannot test anything without first deciding why to test, what to test, how to test, defining what makes for success or failure, and all of those aspects HAVE to be planned out in advance.
So, does planning in fact become more important? I suppose we could argue this fact until we are “blue in the face”, however it is really not a matter of deciding who is correct. At the end of the day, Smart Marketers will always agree: that before you ultimately decide on a specific tactic (or range of tactics), always try to test one aspect against another so that you can start predicting the ultimate outcome of the overall marketing effort. That’s the ultimate goal. Predicting the future success of your current marketing effort.
And testing in small batches enables you to accomplish that, and then roll out the successful tactics with a really good expectation of the outcome.
Years ago (in the 1980’s – I know I’m aging myself with this story), I did a lot of couponing for a client. Normally we offered $10 off a purchase of $30 or more. Our response rates were 3-4% at best with an average purchase value of just over $40.
So, for a mailing quantity of 50,000, we generated (4% x 50,000) = 2,000 coupon redemptions @$41 each = $82,000 revenue. Discounts were $10 per coupon x 2,000 = $20,000 (24.4% discount). Net income $62,000. From 2,000 customer visits.
We then tested a $10 coupon with no minimum purchase value – this was a real leap of faith by the client who were nervous that they were not putting a minimum purchase requirement out there. Results were: 5,000 test customers, we generated a 28% (YES, that’s right 28%) response @$39 each = 1,400 redemptions @$39 each = $54,600 revenue. Discounts were $10 per coupon x 1,400 = $14,000 (25.6% discount). Net income $40,600. From 1,400 customer visits. These results were so overwhelmingly positive that we immediately rolled the campaign out to a 25,000 size audience and the results for the rollout were:
For a mailing quantity of 25,000, we generated (27% x 25,000) = 6,750 coupon redemptions @$37.50 each = $253,125 revenue. Discounts were $10 per coupon x 6,750 = $67,500 (24.7% discount). Net income $185,625. From 6,750 customer visits.
The most important success factor in this campaign was not the revenue generated, but the number of former customers that were still on our list that we turned back into current customers (yes, we were able to track their purchases and in particular when they had last shopped with us).
Testing gave the client the confidence to roll out the campaign into a huge success. Without the proof of the test I would never have convinced the client to take the gamble.
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