Three Steps to Testing Success

in Digital Marketing Strategy & Trends | by Emily Joseph

Whether we like it or not, there’s always room for iteration and improvement. From websites, to social strategy, to ad targeting or color choice, nothing is often perfect the first time—or the second. Luckily, there’s ample opportunity for progress if you choose to test your work, learn from the results and optimize for the future.

As noted in the 2017 Digital Trends Report, testing your content, design and development will help you optimize your digital strategy and crank up the conversions. While a demand generation agency will carry the workload for you, we’ve narrowed down the three steps needed to efficiently and effectively test your website today.  

Step 1: Start Small

The first step is the hardest, so there’s no reason to actually make it the most difficult. Right from the get-go, utilize A/B and incremental testing to spot initial areas for page improvement. There are endless options for what to test, but hone in on what your business needs to solve for.

Creating a hypothesis is the first step in reaching your goal. A solid hypothesis will emphasize not just what you want to change, but what you hope to see from that change. For example, if you’ve decided that video views are key to generating brand awareness—and that it’s important to your campaign’s success—your hypothesis should reflect that goal: “I think I can generate more video views if I move the video to the top of the page.”

While any A/B test will certainly depend on your specific campaign, consider the following categories and sub-topics:

Content
-Tone and style of writing (short or long-form content, bullets or paragraphs)
-Gated vs. non-gated content
-Headline text (straightforward or creative)
-CTA

Design
-Images (number of people, gender, age, type of photo)
-Auto-play vs. click-to-play videos
-Funnels or page flow
-Buttons
-Colors

Development
-Site navigation bar (horizontal or vertical, fixed or traveling)
-Mobile display and functionality
-Single-page vs. multi-step checkout

You’ll never know what potential is hiding if you don’t start (this is the sign you’ve been waiting for).

For some inspiration, take a look at A/B testing in action:

ProCompression, a B2C brand that sells athletic compression socks, A/B tested their mobile site to optimize conversions. According to Behave.org, the hypothesis read: “By adding incremental and persistent ‘checkout’ messaging to their mobile navigation, we can increase mobile conversion rates, as the idea of ‘checking out’ would become top of mind.”

Variation A had a dynamic shopping cart with a countdown timer that followed the user throughout their buying journey. Variation B had a stagnant, traditional shopping cart in the navigation header.

Variation A                                                                                                               Variation B

The results showed that the dynamic shopping cart (Version A) increased conversion rate by more than 10% over the control group. (Source)

Step 2: Graduate to Advanced Testing Methods

Don’t get me wrong, A/B testing is great (see above), but if you really want to take it up a notch, run a multivariate test. Multivariate testing expands on the core of A/B testing to analyze multiple variables on a page and gather more in-depth information on how those variables interact. Instead of A/B testing, MVT is like A/B/C/D testing.

One main condition of running a MVT is audience size; you need a lot of site traffic or opportunities to test your action. Think about it—your testing combinations could look like this:

Headline 1 + Photo 1 + Color 1

Headline 1 + Photo 1 + Color 2

Headline 1 + Photo 2 + Color 1

Headline 1 + Photo 2 + Color 2

Headline 2 + Photo 1 + Color 1

Headline 2 + Photo 1 + Color 2

Headline 2 + Photo 2 + Color 1

Headline 2 + Photo 2 + Color 2

Best practices require at least 100 conversions for each variable, so for this test you’d need at least 800 total conversions.  

Remember, this is a more advanced testing method. Don’t rush into it unless a) you have the traffic and b) you’ve determined your overall strategy.

Step 3: Set Yourself Up for Long-term Testing Success

Despite your determination, you simply can’t throw and catch the ball at the same time. An integrated marketing agency will be your Brady and Edelman (and Belichick), but if partnering with an agency isn’t in the cards, start building your own support team inclusive of people and products.

Your dream testing team should comprise of a marketer, developer and content specialist. With each person focusing on their specialty, decisions can be made quickly and in the best interest of the entire campaign.

Also, take advantage of the testing software available, like Optimizely, Pardot and Marketo to test and optimize your lead generation landing pages. Your agile team needs some weapons—so give them the best ones out there.

What are you waiting for? Just test it already!