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How to Test & Optimize Your Campaigns
Written by Alessandra Gyben
“There are a lot of opportunities that you can discover by listening closely to what your customers are saying.” - Joei Chan, Head of Content at Linkfluence
Great marketing campaigns don’t just happen. They are built over time with the use of data, testing, optimizing, and doing it all over again.
Testing and optimizing your campaigns are not new strategies, yet I often find people ignoring this crucial practice. Marketing campaigns only work if your target audience is reacting and responding to your message. Without this key factor, your campaigns are dead in the water.
So, how do you know if your campaigns are going the distance? Engagement and conversions! That being said, if you launch a campaign and you do not see your desired results, it doesn’t mean all is lost; it means you should try testing and optimizing the campaign to find out what YOUR customers actually want. You must uncover what motivates and inspires them to take action, engage, and convert.
Identify trends in past campaigns
If you’re a marketing veteran, chances are you have executed plenty of campaigns in the past. Take a look at your previous campaigns and see if you can spot any trends. Which campaigns performed the best? What made those campaigns so special and engaging? Then, take a look at your worst performing campaigns. Identify the key differences between the two campaigns.
Results from your previous campaigns tell you a lot about what works and what doesn’t. If you have had high performing campaigns in the past, learn from them. Do not try and reinvent the wheel. Take what has performed in the past, use it, and evolve it to meet the needs of your current campaign goals.
Align your KPIs with your goals
Just because you had a lot of people viewing a certain campaign doesn’t mean it was effective. Look at your campaign goals. If the goal of your campaign was to get people to download an ebook, and you drove hundreds of visits to your landing pages, but received few downloads, you didn’t hit your goal.
Establish KPIs (key performance indicators) to measure the results of your campaigns. Your KPIs miight include:
Identifying your goals and establishing your KPIs will help you determine if your campaigns are effective or not.
What does testing & optimizing mean anyway?
Testing and optimizing your campaigns means that you execute small differences in your landing pages, emails, content, ad copy, etc. to find out which version performs the best. Keep in mind, testing means you are testing micro-changes, not the entire campaign itself. If you change more than one or two small things, you will not have enough data to find out what’s actually contributing to conversions.
A/B Testing or Split Testing
A/B testing, otherwise known as split testing, is the strategy of creating multiple variations of the same campaign to find the top performer. If you are new to multivariate testing, start with two versions and go from there.
How to split test your campaigns
Split testing your campaigns doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, if you have the right tools, testing should be painless and easy to do. The great thing about testing and optimizing your campaigns is that there are so many ways you can test your campaigns!
In today’s content consuming world, the right headline or subject line can make or break the success of your campaign. But, it goes even further. How you phrase your headlines and subject lines can also affect how the reader experiences your content. This is why testing these short snippets of text is so critical.
What to test:
All of these can affect your open or click rates. We suggest testing one element at a time to get the most accurate results.
For example, if you’d like to test your monthly newsletter subject line, you need to first select your control subject line and audience segment. Then, create a duplicate of the newsletter using a slightly different subject line, and send it to the other half of your list. What happens? Does one receive more opens than the other?
The same concept goes for your content headlines including blog posts, landing pages, ebooks, webinars, etc.
If you want to test out your blog posts headlines, we suggest using social media or email marketing to do so. Social media is a great place to start. Set up two different ads promoting your blog post using slightly different headlines. If you are using Facebook, they will automatically place the highest performing advertisement. If you are using Twitter, create two slightly different tweets. Which tweet gets the highest level of engagement?
Note: You don’t necessarily need to test this out with social advertising. Instead, you can simply use an organic post to test the two different titles. This typically works better for Twitter. That being said, promoted posts reach a larger audience, so we would recommend testing this with some budget behind it.
If you go the email marketing route, you will want to have two different newsletters just testing out the two different blog headlines within the content of your email. Which links receive the most clicks?
When people test out landing pages, they often first think about testing calls-to-action, which we will get into later on in this post. However, the headline or H1 and H2 of the landing page should be actively tested as well. Just like emails, you would create two versions of the same page with slightly different headlines.
Insider tip: An H1 tag is a technical way of saying headline. It is usually the title of a blog post or the headline of your page. An H2 would be the secondary headline on your page.
Once you have setup the two different versions of your landing pages, your control, and your test, you need to make sure to drive enough traffic to each to generate actionable results.
This testing works for both your PPC (pay-per-click) campaigns and any other landing pages your actively drive traffic to.
The way your page is laid out or the order that you list certain things can play a huge part in your conversions. Over the years, we have tested multiple aspects of our pricing page to figure out which page contributed to the most conversions.
Test 1: The first test we did was test the order in which the pricing options were displayed. Page A had the lowest price first and Page B had the highest price first. After months of testing, we found that having the lowest price displayed first generated more conversions than our test page.
Test 2: The second test we executed was testing out the color scheme of the pricing options. Page A showcased the pricing options in a pastel color scheme. Page B had a more vibrant color scheme. What we found was that Page B actually led to higher, more valuable conversions than the pastel color scheme.
Another interesting thing to note in this test is that while Page A actually had more conversion, Page B contributed to higher conversion values, meaning we were generating more revenue from Page B.
Some other layout changes you can test are:
Here is another example of changes in the content and/or layout. In this example, you can see that we are testing the bulleted list vs. the video.
A call-to-action is something on your page or email that tells the reader/visitor what you want them to do.
Calls-to-action can include (this is a limited list):
Of course, you will determine, and test, the wording you want to use for your CTAs depending on what you are asking the visitors to do. Along with testing your CTA phrase (or word), you can also test (separately) the color of your CTA button, punctuation, etc.
A test we did surrounding CTAs was for our webinar invitations. We tested “Reserve your spot” and “Click Here to Register Today” against one another. We consistently found that “Reserve your spot” resulted in more webinar registrants than the alternative.
Images are a great way to complement your content and add attractive visuals to break up content or make your page more appealing. However, not all images are created equal. For example, stock images are notorious for hurting conversion rates, whereas real pictures of real people tend to perform better. However, you need to test this to find out what works for your business.
A few ways to test images:
One thing to keep in mind is that you want to create a consistent experience with your brand. Test images that fit within your brand’s aesthetic.
When we say ‘content length’ we are not just referring to blog posts. We are looking at emails, landing pages, social media posts, videos, infographics, and more.
For example, does a landing page with more content yield more conversions, or does a shorter page with less content perform better? To test this, you will need to, again, create two versions, and test each version against each other.
For email marketing, we have run the following test. We tested whether a link with a snippet of text got more clicks than just having a link to the content. This is an ongoing test, and we will update this post when we generate some real results!
You see, testing does not have to be complicated! When you test incrementally, you will generate the most accurate results, which will allow you to further optimize your campaigns and set yourself up for success.
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