6 Split Tests To Validate Your Marketing Spend

“Yes, but who has time for creating two versions of everything when there’s barely enough time for one!”

I understand.

Yet the cost/benefit ratio is mind-blowing when you really grasp the effects and experience the results of split testing in your own metrics.

And there are fast and easy ways to make testing super streamlined, including: knowing where the weakest conversion point in your funnel exists and focusing optimization efforts there, or hiring the likes of yours truly to do the grunt work for you.

Fist…

…here’s a selection of split-test results from projects I’ve done over the past 8 years for each of the major KPI conversion points in a fairly typical online sales funnel.

Test 1: Cold Traffic Clicks
Test 2: Landing Page Click-Throughs
Test 3: Cold Traffic Lead Generation
Test 4: Sales Page Conversions
Test 5: Email Nurture Campaigns
Test 6: Repeat Customer Sales Campaigns


Test 1: Cold Traffic Clicks

In my recent post “41.94% Result Rate for Pennies using Video Ads on Facebook!” you see how fast we can validate innovative and creative campaign ideas with results like these:

fb-cpc

Key learnings you glean from simple split-tests on pay-per-click platforms can then be rolled out to other traffic channels and across your sales funnel.

Next up is the landing page itself.


Test 2: Landing Page Click-Throughs

This graph shows the click-through rate of a pre-sell article lander for the five variants tested.

The difference between the best performer at 37% and the worse at 24% can drastically increase campaign results and reduce ad spend.

splittesting

Below are two variations from a multi-variate test looking at the best heading, sub-head and background design to use in combination.

Which of these two variations would you choose as the winner?

Variation 1:

Screen Shot 2014-08-25 at 11.40.48-1781

Variation 2:

Screen Shot 2014-08-25 at 11.45.22-1798

The winner was number 1 by quite a margin. Further tests pinpoint exactly why, which led to new insight about the target audience.

Yes, the design seems quite poor. I worked with the clients designer who had a lot on his plate. It was enough to validate the first test variants before investing more attention on graphic treatment for subsequent tests and broader roll-out.

Below shows that same split test campaign while in progress, revealing the likely winning test variants and the best overall combination of factors.

Screen Shot 2014-08-25 at 11.32.54-1733

Of course:

‘Landing pages’ is a catch all term for the likes of product review pages, blog articles, service descriptions, etc and may include a specific component for lead generation, or a click through to another page for further details.

As we increase the responsiveness of landing pages we can then directly focus on lead generation as per Test 3.


Test 3: Cold Traffic Lead Generation

I’ve seen dozens of styles of landing page that convert really well, or not at all.

It’s all about the ‘message to market match’ which can be split test with ease and presented even in the simplest of designs.

Here’s an example opt-in page by the very savvy marketers at Motley Fool (Financial News & Investing). The visitor clicks a text-heavy banner on a news page and comes to this page without much graphical treatment (or even copy) to speak of.

motley-fool-optin-design

Sometimes less is more.

Over the years I’ve created opt-in page split tests with 15% vs 40% opt-in rates. Testing on a small scale before major roll-out is wise. Small increase in conversion rates have a big impact on full-scale campaigns.

Table shows opt-in rates for lead gen campaigns I built for various clients.

emailoptinrates

Here’s a new opt-in campaign just launched

The first version had zero opt-ins after some 50 impressions. Didn’t seem worth letting that continue. So I re-thought the opt-in offer, design and process (took like 30 minutes) and hey presto, we have lift off with the first opt-ins coming in within minutes at a good opt-in rate for both of the split-test versions as shown:

 

newoptintest

I’ll let this one run and update once we have a statistically significant number of impressions to conclude the true opt-in rate.

Next up:


Test 4: Sales Page Conversions

This screenshot shows a multi-variate test indicating a whopping 37.84% sales conversion rate.

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 19.39.12

It was this test that really opened my eyes to the value of diligent split testing.

As hall-of-fame copywriter Gene Schwartz remarked: “only the test decides”.

As a recent example, I re-wrote the entire introduction section of a long ‘video sales letter’ for a health supplement which resulted in a very significant increase in viewer engagement.

See the colored screenshots taken from the video analytics software.

Original lead variant: 25% retention past the introduction

C6C26197-2A06-40CE-9142-5C1757E6260A

My new lead variant: 44% retention past the introduction

17A181EE-6127-4786-8D73-B1E7292EFF50

This meant the new start of the video increased engagement by… well, a lot, depending on which numbers you calculate from. 2% to 6% is a 200% increase in video completions!

In the following Dashboard we see highly profitable campaign ROI for cold display traffic during an ongoing optimization process I managed for a client, while split-testing different sales letter variations.

A 76.4% campaign ROI.

Screen Shot 2014-09-22 at 8.22.33-2249

If sales do not take place on the initial visit and we collect email, we can then conduct Test 5.


Test 5: Email Nurture For Initial Sales

 

Here’s a nice example of consistently high open-rates in an email sequence written for a client showing very strong click-rates through to the landing page / offer page.

themi-email-series

And finally, we can also test campaigns for repeat customer purchase…


Test 6: Repeat Customer Campaigns

As an ad agency copywriter in 2007 I wrote copy for dozens of agency clients and quickly hit my first major home run…

An email I wrote for the agency’s largest client account beat the best performer by 510%!

  • Total list size 30k
  • Average order value: 10k
  • Expected enquiries based on past campaign performance: 0.05% = 15
  • Expected sales conversion: 3% = 0 new customers (they got a customer once every several months from that particular promotion).
  • Marketing costs = £2,000

For our test with my copy against the agencies existing best creative we split the list.

The agency’s email pulled in a respectable 10 new enquiries based on the 8 they expected from 15k names…

…while the new approach I took with the copy, based on traditional principles of direct response copywriting, pulled in a record breaking 61 enquiries.

And because of the highly personal nature and human appeal of my copy, the client soon closed two deals at approximately 10k each (a 20k return).

With marketing costs at 1k (half of the full cost of 2k given that we did a split test) that’s a direct campaign ROI of 1900%.

And of course they could continue to re-use the email I had written in future campaigns.

But this was only the beginning…

  • I worked with the client on their prospect information pack to increase close rate following the new lead generation.
  • I planned a follow-up series to the list of 15k that had received my email
  • Plus another campaign to the 59 leads who responded to the first email but hadn’t yet converted.
  • And my email was also scheduled for broadcast to the list of 15k that had not yet received it.

Conclusions?

Split testing your lead gen and sales funnel can bring demonstrably higher campaign performance — and opportunities for improvement are endless!

“Sure, But I Really Have Very Limited Time For Running Test Campaigns”

I know…

Having been in the marketing budget holders chair a number of times, I know how it feels to juggle between new high-leverage opportunities and sustaining existing profitable campaigns.

Despite the transformational power of split testing, it can take a lot of time and resources to create test variants and get the performance tracking working accurately throughout the funnel.

That’s why I created a flexible service to help alleviate the challenge of validating new campaign ideas before you go ahead with major roll-outs.

Check out the service description on www.cyclicmedia.com and get in touch for campaign development and/or optimisation.

Gavriel

41.94% Result Rate for Pennies using Video Ads on Facebook!

Normally I can’t share fresh campaign data due to client NDAs — however, in this case I’m partners in a project and showing you our metrics is fair game!

So here’s a demonstration of how you can use micro-budget campaigns to test new marketing concepts before rolling out into broader ad spend…

The Channel of Choice

One of the most powerful methods for testing new campaign ideas, creative concepts, headlines and audience demographics is through the Facebook Advertising platform.

See the screenshot below showing results for 7 video adverts run for just a few days.

The goal is to determine the best cost/engagement ratio for video views. The column most noteworthy is for ‘Relevancy’ on the far right showing the numbers, 6, 7, 8.

fb-result

Relevancy is Facebooks assessment of how engaging each advert is for the targeted audience out of a maximum possible score of 10.

Facebook’s algorithm calculates the Relevancy Score once an advert has received 500 impressions, or ‘Reach’.

This means we can run simultaneous test ads with 500 impressions each to gauge how well the ad would perform on a larger budget to the same audience profile.

Cherry-Pick The Sweetspot Of Your Audience

If you’re unfamiliar with how granular Facebook audience targeting can be, here’s an example:

fb-profile-4050dating

That’s 150k women age 40-50 living in one of those 5 major US cities who are interested in dating and also interested in romance novels…

Keeping It Relevant Reduces Ad Costs

Achieving a high relevancy score also means that Facebook will, over time, charge you less per view or click as they reward you with lower ad costs the more you support a positive user experience for Facebook members. Think about it.

Keep It Simple

I didn’t run all 7 ads at once. That would be overkill. Best to test 2 or 3 concepts at a time and then refine and advance based on results.

The first adverts I ran hit a 6 and a 7 for Relevancy. That gave me direction for the next mini-test (each taking less than a day to run) and so I hit another 6 plus two 8’s.

The next test will focus on the similarities and differences between those adverts to help identify new ideas to test and increase the Relevancy score as much as possible for this particular campaign and audience.

How well does this correlate with click-through rate?

Just 0.5% CTR on one of the original concepts with a massive increase hitting 4% CTR for the best performing ad.

fb-ctr

I’m not saying you need to get a Relevancy Score of 8 or that you’ll then see a 4% average CTR. Just that the correlation of Relevancy with CTR is demonstrably evident. My goal for this campaign is Relevance Score 9 with 8% CTR.

Such metrics are always useful for presenting to budget approvers, in team meetings and end of month results meetings. Especially when you show highly cost-efficient due diligence of innovative new marketing concepts to build support for bigger budget approvals.

In this way we can validate ideas for new marketing campaigns. And while it’s still early days on this particular campaign, it’s gratifying to see CTR go up 706% within just a few days, 2 test iterations and pocket change.

Facebook Is The Perfect Channel For Testing

Below includes a column for ‘Result Rate’ which in this case is the percentage of people who watch at least 10 seconds of the video advert once it shows up on their Facebook News Feed.

+40% of people watching more than 10 seconds of an ad that is costing pennies to deliver shows the incredible opportunity of Video Advertising on Facebook today.

result-rate

And here shows the reduction in overall Cost Per Click with increase in Relevancy, CTR and Result Rate.

fb-cpc

From £1.62 CPC down to £0.10 CPC. A 93.8% reduction!

Could that difference turn a highly unprofitable campaign into a profitable one? Of course…

Next steps for this campaign is to start tracking it from the click through to confirmed lead generation (and therefore measure Cost Per Lead). Brand engagement can be tracked in various ways although I prefer measuring opt-in rate as a KPI for brand engagement for trackable campaign funnels.

From there I can track individual ads through to sales and thereby calculate ROI down to the penny.

But where to focus?

If you’ve ever seen a car mechanic tighten the bolts on a wheel you’ll see he rotates around them, tightening them a little each time.

Why? Because if he tightened one of the bolts fully without ensuring the others are aligned, he might actually get the bolt stuck rather than securely fastening the wheel.

And it’s the same with campaign testing.

With the above results I can introduce elements from winning ads into the landing page and subsequent email nurture campaigns leading to sales.

However: We don’t want to invest lots of time and effort across all parts of a conversion funnel while still establishing what works best for a particular campaign (including segmentation, offer, headlines, etc).

Update: On the next round of micro-tests the campaign has achieved Facebook’s highly coveted maximum Relevancy score of 10, with a 8.59% click-through-rate at just 0.13 average cost per click! Time to optimize the next step in this sales funnel.

10relevancy

 

Your Next Steps

It’s so easy to start testing concepts and exploring ideas, hunting for the next blockbuster winner that could become key to your growth strategy in the year ahead.

If you don’t have the expertise or capacity in-house for this type of project, and would like to get the ball rolling with minimal effort, I can create campaigns that meet your brand guidelines and get them running for you very fast. Most likely for far less investment in resource or ad spend than you would get in-house or with a traditional agency.

Send an enquiry today and let’s find a few winning concepts that you can roll-out across your marketing.

How to split test with ab and multivariate split testing software

I bought Jim Stone’s Split Test Accelerator back in late 2005.

Most likely one of the most important investments in my own marketing self-education I could have made…

Why?

Because conducting true ‘taguchi’ multivariate split tests on landing pages and sales pages gives you a genuine experience of the optimisation process that no academic training or random trial and error marketing promotions can ever give you.

I can make the comparison because I’ve done all three…

  • Academic postgraduate marketing diploma.
  • Trial and error shoot and see what sticks marketing promotions.
  • And true multivariate split testing with Split Test Accelerator.

When I look at a landing page, I can instantly filter through the dozens of split tests I have done and spot the weak areas of that page. It’s easy.

Plus, it has also made me humble enough to know that no matter how many split tests I’ve conducted, I can never completely guess what will work best. That’s the beauty of split testing.

Takeing the experience of previous tests, and feeding those ideas into each new test, and being pleasantly surprised at what works and what doesn’t, and then adding those new learnings to each subsequent test.

And Jim Stone, creator of Split Test Accelerator, has made available a new starter kit.

Did you know that a recent survey showed that 80% of internet marketers have never done any split testing — even though it’s one of the most powerful tools in the successful marketers toolkit?

Jim Stone is a conversion rate expert who teaches people how to increase their conversion rates through split testing, and he thinks he knows why people don’t get started, even though they know they should.

He believes they think it’s too complicated, and takes too long to get set up.

If you’re in this group, Jim has a great deal for you today.

He his going to teach you how to do split testing in about as painless a way as possible.

It starts with a short video, and and interactive case study.

Then he gives you a free report, and a copy of the single-variable version of his $891 software for free — no strings attached. You don’t need to pull out your credit card, and you don’t have any obligation to upgrade or anything. You can use the software as long as you want for free.

He just wants people to get started split testing as soon as possible, and has put together this kit to make it happen.

Split Test Accelerator Kit

You just watch the video and complete the interactive case study, and Jim will give you a graded score on your answers, and will give you a 50+ page eBook that teaches you how to give yourself raises through split testing.

This opportunity won’t last long (and if you’ve never split tested your landing pages, this is your single best chance to get the ball rolling).

Get started right now: Jim Stone’s Split Test Accelerator Kit

>