Improving your marketing results requires a solid testing strategy. Just like a sports team that spends the majority of its time preparing and practicing before a game, marketers must also invest time in planning and testing before launching a marketing campaign.
To create an effective marketing test strategy, it is important to understand the time and effort that goes into building and implementing a full marketing campaign. Typically, this breaks down into four phases:
5% Analysis (making sense of the reports)
The preparation phase takes up a whopping 50% of the total effort and includes identifying goals and determining what you want to learn from your marketing campaign.
This is where we want to dive in further. More specifically, strategically think about what you need to test.
It is essential to have an appropriate testing strategy for the stage of your company or product. For example, if you are launching something entirely new, testing nuances such as colors on an order form may not be effective. Instead, focus on testing movers: target audience, price, positioning, timing, offer and creative (design and copywriting). While creative is important, it is critical to prioritize testing the other components first. Test movers, not nuances.
That’s right folks, creative is last on the list. I’m not saying it’s not important or doesn’t matter. I’m just saying that there are other things you need to test before it. Look at it this way: You can have the most incredible artwork/design/copy in the world, but if it’s not presented to people that are likely to buy, it just doesn’t matter. No one will buy.
Here’s the odd thing. If you have less-than-stellar creative but have the right audience and pricing, you’ll still get a response. The right product and the right time with the right price is most important.
Testing creative will become more critical once you’ve got a better indication of the key components.
To generate test ideas, I recommend having at least 10 ideas for each mover category. Prioritize your ideas using research-based methods, feedback from a group and your gut instinct. A group vote is often helpful to identify top performers. And yes, I always consider incorporating at least one “gut” test into the plan.
When I was VP of Marketing at RealAge (a health survey that provided a score for your age), we were getting the majority of our leads via Google Ads and its content network. We had a text link that said, “Oprah said you’ve got to take this test!” (Because she did say that on her show.) But once we inked a deal with her company Harpo, we were told we couldn’t use her name in the ads anymore. We then put up a more generic ad, and the response dropped by 40%. Ouch.
So we called a meeting of the creative minds—five people in total: two marketers, two content writers (always my favorite to have in meetings like these) and one analyst (to provide perspective). I typically don’t like to have brainstorming meetings with more than five people. Usually, one person starts to dominate at some point.
Here’s the trick. We displayed the ad on the wall in the context of where it would normally be displayed. Once you could see how the ad would be viewed by customers, you could see how to improve it.
We ended up identifying a few test ideas that stemmed from the thought that the majority of people that came to the website arrived when they were wanting to waste some time. The test we decided on was to display links on entertainment or celebrity sites. And the ad that was developed was:
“Prepare to be Shocked. You may be younger than you think.” It didn’t beat the Oprah creative, but it did match it!
Once you’ve compiled your list of ideas to test, you can now whittle them down to the few you can actually implement. I typically score my ideas based on ability to implement, cost to implement, timing or people needed to implement, and more importantly, impact on the business. And make sure you are testing movers, not nuances.