By John Eberhard

AB Testing

Years ago the pioneers of direct marketing (mostly in the direct mail field) came up with what they called AB Testing. This is where you send out at least two versions of some promotion, and test them against each other and carefully track the results. And see which one gets the most response.

Marketers would send out multiple versions of their direct mail pieces, with variations in the headline, the teaser on the outside of the envelope, with the copy being longer or shorter, different approaches in the copy, different color schemes, etc. The piece that got the best response was then called the “control,” and that was the piece you went with after that for most of your promotion. But then you would still try out new approaches in smaller amounts after that, in an effort to beat the response from your control and create a new control that would work even better.

AB Testing is vital today for email, paid online advertising on Google Ads and Facebook, YouTube videos and ads, topics for webinars or seminars, and just about every aspect of marketing.

Tracking Response

One of the basics of marketing is to send out promotion, carefully track the responses of leads and sales that come back in, then adjust your promotion based on what was most successful. You of course want to take the ads or pieces that were most successful and increase them, and discontinue the pieces that were less successful.

One important trait that every marketer has to have is humility, and being able to let go of an idea that you thought was great, that then bombed. You can’t just latch on to an idea and keep doing it, when it’s not working.

A vital part of this is to track leads and sales that come into your company, and source them, which means to find out what prompted that person to reach or buy. Most companies are terrible at this, because it is not easy. You have to get all your personnel who handle leads and sales and get them to find out what got the person to reach or buy, and to do it in every case. Where most companies fall down on this is that they do it somewhat, but not consistently. Or some personnel do it and others don’t. Some companies don’t bother to do this at all.

Another thing that makes sourcing your leads and sales difficult is that your customers often find it difficult to answer the question of what prompted them to reach or buy. Sometimes it will have been multiple promo items you sent out that, all together, got them to respond. Sometimes when you have a landing page that is linked to a specific promo item, you can code it to show you where the leads came from.

But regardless of the difficulties in sourcing your leads and sales, it must be done. It is vital because it shows you which of your promotions are working and which aren’t working. You may think it doesn’t matter that much because probably all the promo is working somewhat. Maybe, but you might be shocked to learn that one ad or email or promo piece is working great, another is working so-so, and another isn’t working at all. So dropping the poor performers and putting more effort and money into the best performing pieces can make a huge difference in income and profitability.