Using Split Tests For Stronger Online Marketing
For most business owners and executives, it isn’t that difficult to figure out whether an online marketing plan is working or not. Usually, they can compare the amount of time and money they’re putting into a website with the leads or revenue that are coming out the other side and make a pretty quick determination.
But, how do you know if your website is as effective a business tool as it could be? In other words, how do you know if you’re moving in the right direction or not, or maximizing your return on investment?
Getting these answers requires a bit more complexity and subtlety. That’s why we recommend split testing for so many online marketing projects. It takes a lot of the guesswork out of things by giving marketers hard numbers they can use to guide their decisions.
This is crucial because gut instincts and short-term fluctuations in buyer activity can often give you false signals. It’s easy to make assumptions that won’t turn out being accurate later on. By split testing different elements of your website and online marketing campaigns, though, you can narrow in on exactly what is and isn’t working on your website.
To show how you can put these ideas into action, let’s look at some elements you can test variations of to find the insights you’re looking for.
Keywords and Search Terms
If there is one thing you should continually be testing within your online marketing campaigns, it’s the various keywords and search terms you target to bring visitors to your website.
There are two reasons you always need to be tinkering with the quality of your incoming traffic in this way. The first has to do with intent. When a searcher enters something into Google’s search box, it’s because they have a particular thought, topic, or problem on their mind. Different search strings equate to different needs and preferences. So, the better you understand your customers, the easier it should be for you to choose the right words and phrases that will bring perfect buyers to your site.
The second reason has to do with knowledge in online marketing trends. As popular topics, customer understanding, new research, and even fresh products all come to light, the actual terms your customers search for are going to change over time. If you’re never adjusting your keyword strategy, then you’re always running behind some of your competitors.
It doesn’t take a great deal of work to test new search terms within your online marketing campaigns, and it’s an ongoing activity that’s well worth the effort.
Ads and Marketing Messages
If adjusting your sources of incoming traffic is crucial to maximizing your online marketing success for organic campaigns, it’s something you truly can’t afford to skip when you are working with paid ads. That’s because each and every click is costing you precious money from your marketing budget, so it’s imperative that make sure each one comes from a viable prospect.
This doesn’t just mean you should keep experimenting with new search terms and combinations – although that is important. It also means you should try throwing some negative keywords into the mix to ensure your ads aren’t being shown to searchers who aren’t likely to ever make a purchase. In that way, you can filter out unwanted traffic, raise your PPC quality scores, and get more conversions for less money.
Additionally, you might consider testing new text and images for the ad groups you run, to see if you can get more clicks for every ad. The point is to keep narrowing in on better and better customers, and then to spend as little as possible for the clicks you generate. Follow that path of testing and revisions for long enough and you’ll end up with a campaign that’s getting more and more efficient with each passing month.
Landing Page Headlines and Content
There are a couple of good reasons to keep tweaking your landing pages as you bring visitors from Google to your website. They are valuable in different ways, but both ultimately add up to more sales and conversions.
The first has to do with changing headlines and content structures so that your content seems more appealing to the prospects who arrive on your pages. To put it simply, you want to test out different sales pitches to see which ones are going to be most effective with the largest numbers of people. You simply can’t have the answers you’re looking for until you have seen what visitors will respond to.
The second reason to test landing page variations has to do with the alterations you make to ads and keywords. Each time you switch the source of your traffic you should also consider making changes to the resulting messages on your website.
Ultimately, you want your landing pages and online ads aligned as closely as possible, so someone who clicks through to your site feels like they are finding the kind of information or offers they were expecting. If you only change search targets and add content without altering your landing pages, you may end up in a situation where someone who might have bought from you ends up feeling a little bit surprised at what they see on your site. That’s not good for business.
Calls to Action
In the world of selling, top professionals spend a lot of time thinking about their “closes.” That’s because they know that the way they ask for someone’s business – including the setting and wording that factor in – can have a huge impact on their success or failure. No matter how good the setup is, they have to make it seem like taking the next step is the most natural move in the world.
The same principles apply to the landing pages on your website. Whether you use buttons, contact forms, or something altogether different, the way you ask a visitor to continue can make or break the opportunity.
Knowing that, it only makes sense to test different calls to action even as you tinker with the other elements of your landing pages. Experiment with buttons versus text, try offers to “buy now” or “complete your order,” or click a button instead of typing into a form.
What you’re really looking for is the right mix of convenience and credibility. As we’ve mentioned, you want your call to action to feel like it’s natural, logical, and a “win” for all parties involved. This is an important part of your conversion plan, so it makes sense to keep testing until you find the option that leads to the biggest payoff over time.
Testimonials and Guarantees
Although these are often considered an afterthought within a bigger online marketing effort, money-back guarantees, and other safety measures you include on your webpages can actually have a significant effect on your ability to win more customers. So, why not test them?
Experience has taught us that lots of buyers will respond to video testimonials from real-life buyers, or short of that, verifiable feedback from people who appear to be real, non-compensated individuals. The more detail you can include in their notes, the more credible their impressions are. Not only do testimonials generally increase conversions, but you might be amazed at the way different photos, or different placements on a landing page, can similarly impact their sales potential.
In the same way, lots of marketers we have worked with have found that including money-back guarantees, seals from the Better Business Bureau, and other indicators of trust can make a visitor more comfortable in sharing their email address or credit card number. As always, though, you should be testing these elements to find out where they go on a page, how many of them you need to impact sales, and how they fit into your overall marketing message.
Want More Consistent Online Marketing Results?
Are you looking to get more consistent results from your website, or to see a higher return on investment from your online marketing budget? If so, now is the perfect time to talk to the creative experts at WebWize in Houston. Contact us today so we can schedule a free consultation and website review!
About Glenn Brooks
Glenn Brooks is the founder of WebWize, Inc. WebWize has provided web design, development, hosting, SEO and email services since 1994. Glenn graduated from SWTSU with a degree in Commercial Art and worked in the advertising, marketing, and printing industries for 18 years before starting WebWize.