6 Split Tests To Validate Your Marketing Spend 

 December 30, 2015

By  Gavriel Shaw

“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.


…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:


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.


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.


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.


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:



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


My new lead variant: 44% retention past the introduction


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.


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.


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 Shaw

Gavriel has product and marketing expertise from a variety of roles, including CMO, Head of Growth, Head of Marketing, eCommerce Director, Web Marketing Director, Product Marketing Manager, and Senior Copywriter in various sectors, both B2C and B2B.

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