Sometimes great ideas are born out of a moment of genius. But more often than not, they are the result of rigorous testing. ‘Always be testing’ is a popular motto in marketing, and doing so can increase your chances of building a successful business. It can also help make a case for changing tactics if specific outreach methods aren’t working. If you’re new to the world of testing, then you’ve landed in the right place. This guide explains what testing is and how you can use it to acquire customers for your online store.
What is testing in marketing?
Testing looks at your outreach across different platforms and uses data-led insights to help you make informed decisions. Whether you're accessing data via Google Analytics or social media, the results reveal how people react to your content.
There are different types of testing (more on that later), each designed to give you more clarity about how your audience connects with the brand. Consequently, it allows you to identify specific variables and understand the landscape you operate in.
Why should you use testing?
The saying, ‘if you throw enough mud at a wall, something will finally stick’ isn’t best practice for any company that wants to supercharge its sales and get customers excited about products.
That's where testing comes in, and it means you have tangible information designed to improve processes at your fingertips. It yields better results and helps focus on the most critical areas of your outreach.
Most marketers believe identifying and understanding target audiences is their biggest challenge. With continuous testing, however, you can overcome one of the most challenging aspects of the job by garnering real-time insights.
Different types of testing
A/B testing involves trying different methods for your content. For example, you could send two emails about the same topic using different subject lines and slightly different copy. Then you’d test which one generated the best response and use it as your primary email send.
Multivariable testing happens on a larger scale than A/B, which can produce vague results. However, it's still worth using as a tactic to get insights into how your audience reacts when you change more than one element of a piece of content. To illustrate, you might keep the exact copy for two social media posts but change the primary image and the headline tag.
You could also post them at identical times during the day so that you’re only testing the reaction to the title and imagery (rather than the send times). The primary goal is to see which one gets more clicks.
This can work well for paid ads as you’ll want to cross-reference large audiences who interact with the post. The results can help define your PPC strategy and reveal which ads work best for your target demographic.
How to test
Now that you have a better idea about the ins and outs of marketing testing, you’ll want to put some of the theory into practice. Before starting testing, it’s handy to:
- Understand what you want to achieve with testing (is the goal to attain larger follower counts, increased likes, click-through rates or boost sales?)
- Ideas about what you want to test (does your audience respond more to images or videos, for example?)
- Your current marketing strategy and goals
Once you have the above in place, you can start testing to understand audiences' tastes better.
Type of content
Decide on the type of content you want to test. Do you want to trial which imagery works best, or is the copy your primary target? Perhaps you want to look at the best times during the day to share, or maybe you prefer to focus on longer and shorter form content to see which one is more popular.
Choose between an A/B test or multivariable depending on the type of content you select. Also, think about the platform you’re testing on, as each one commands different audiences, and testing them against each other may muddle results.
Length of test
How long do you wish to test for? Do you plan to compare two pieces of content directly, or is the goal to examine a series of posts over a few days?
Keep track of the results as they come in, and then compare them to see which of your content pieces yield the most engagement. Analysing results can help identify new opportunities or use them as a case study to present to the broader team.
Marketing testing is the only way to be sure of success. Without it, you're trying various approaches without really knowing how well they're working. With it, however, you're creating a watertight process that provides key information about what your audience responds to. Such insight can help shape your strategy so you can build a strong marketing plan that achieves targets.