Split Testing Your Marketing (How to & What to Expect)

Last week I talked about the importance of copywriting in your marketing materials. In that post, I briefly mentioned A/B testing or split testing to find out which versions of your marketing materials work best.

I feel like that topic needs its own dedicated post, so today, we’re going to expand on that idea and talk about why it’s important, what it can teach you, how to implement it, and what you can actually test. So, let’s get started

What Can You Split Test?

Split testing, A/B testing, and conversion rate optimization are all terms that are used interchangeably. When someone is talking about this what they’re referring to is testing two or three different variations of something to find a winner. 

You can split-test all sorts of things. Some of the most common choices are:

  • Ad graphics or media
  • Ad copy 
  • Website design
  • Website copy
  • Email content 
  • Audiences 
  • Advertising strategies

You can also test for different “winners”. In other words the goal you’re trying to achieve most often. A few of the most common goals are

  • More conversions (form submissions, calls, subscriptions, downloads, appointments booked, etc,)
  • Time on page 
  • Email opens, clicks, or engagements – responses, forwards

How to "Find Money" with Split Testing

When talking about split testing you’ll probably hear the term, “found money”. Essentially, what this means is getting more out of the traffic you’re already receiving, hence “finding more money”. Split testing is one of the best ways to find more money.

Here’s the deal, advertising, producing content, email marketing… they all cost resources. Either time, money, or both.

Split testing allows you to improve upon the results that all of those sources are bringing you.

So, you don’t need to spend a dime on getting in front of new people. This on its own makes it affordable. But, when you couple it with the fact that the entire goal is to drive more results, it becomes cost-effective and revenue-generating. 

Because of this, it’s one of the highest ROI marketing tactics that you can do making it a must in my book.

When creating any sort of marketing materials we do so using our best judgment.

We design, write, and target based on what we think is going to work.

But, you may have noticed that you’re not always right. I’ll admit that I’m not always right, especially when it comes to something as esoteric and psychological as marketing is.

How can we really expect that the very first ad we write is going to be the one that resonates with everyone?

Imagine if we had that standard in other industries. Photographers would take only one picture. Apple would still be producing the first mac. Websites would still look like they did in the 90s. Authors wouldn’t need editors.

It’s silly when you think about it.

What I’m proposing is the ONLY way to find out if your marketing could be better is to run split tests. 

My agency doesn’t only work with private schools, we’re just moving in that direction.

So I’ve got a landscaping client that I’ve been working with for over 3 years now.

We recently switched the way that they do their free estimate requests.

Originally, users were able to schedule their estimate online – book the date and everything.

We thought it worked great, it was a little confusing for the user because of blackout dates for different cities and things like that, but it seemed okay.

We decided to test a new, simpler way of requesting a free estimate in an effort to book more of them.

We switched from being able to book the estimate to requesting an estimate with a simple form.

That change doubled the number of estimates within the first 30 days.

That’s the power of split testing. We never would have imagined it could have been such a drastic increase if we didn’t test it. 

Right, so I think I’ve illustrated the importance of split testing and what it can teach you, so let’s move on to how to actually do it.

Split Testing Webpages

The first split test you should run, in my opinion, is testing different webpage designs. The best tool to get this done is Google Optimize.

It makes it super simple to try different page layouts, designs, and copy.

There are other tools and ways to do what Google Optimize does but don’t bother, this is the best and easiest way to split test.

You have the option to send different percentages of traffic to the pages our testing against each other.

Most of the time you’re going to split it down the middle to get a fair test – 50% of the traffic to the original page and 50% to the variant that you’re testing.

Google optimize will even give you the option to select the goal you want to achieve with the test and present you with a range of data around that goal once the experiment is over.

Usually, 30 days is enough time to find a winner but depending on the amount of traffic you get you may see a pattern emerge sooner rather than later, in which case you can stop the experiment, choose your winner, and test another variation. You should always be testing.

Start with your highest trafficked pages and work your way down that list, creating split tests for each page as you move through it.

Split Testing Ads

The most common advertising platforms are Google, Bing, Meta, and TikTok.

Each of those, and pretty much any other you can think of, has its variation of A/B testing.

Google and Bing will let you create experiments, similar to Google Optimize, in which you can test anything and everything you can imagine. Meta, Facebook, and Instagram will prefer you to test your ad copy by lumping all of your variations into one ad and letting them sort out the winning combinations.

TikTok goes a similar route as well.

An important thing to remember when it comes to split testing is to test significantly different versions of ad copy.

Switching one word in a headline probably won’t do much.

Writing a headline from a completely different angle is the route you should go.

Also, don’t test different ad copy and graphics in the same test because you won’t know which element had an impact. Choose one or the other. 

Split Testing Ads

Most email marketing providers have an option for split testing your emails. Most often,  you’re trying to increase your email open rate, so subject lines are the most common element to split test.

You should split-test every single email before you send it out to your full list.

Take a subset of that list to receive your split test, (I’d recommend 10% of your list) then choose the winning email to send out to your full list.

I’d say you need a minimum of 100 people in that split test list to get an accurate reading.

Let's Recap

Right, so hopefully you can see how important it is to split-test your marketing materials.

In my opinion, it’s one of the quickest and most cost-effective ways to generate more results for your school.

If you’re not doing any split testing right now, start by using Google Optimize to test a different version of your most popular pages, most likely that’s going to be your homepage to start.

From there you can move on to other pages, your advertising, and your email marketing.

Let me know what you think about this topic by sending me a message on LinkedIn and we can continue this conversation.

Until next time,
I’ve been Nick. 

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