Friday, June 1, 2012

A/B Testing

Next week, we will feature guest blogger M. K. Hobson.  She has graciously agreed to share her wisdom on the use of QR codes to measure the effectiveness of your marketing collateral.  Her posts mention two topics that we haven't previously defined: ROI and A/B Testing.

We provided a quick intro to ROI in our Friday, May 25, 2012 post.  This post will cover A/B Testing.

A/B Testing, also called bucket testing or split testing, was originally used to test the effectiveness of print copy (messaging) used in ads and promotions.  The premise is simple, but can become quite complex when executed.  Basically, you produce two pieces for the same promotion.  Piece #1 can be your control (or standard) and Piece #2 would include ONE change that differentiates it from the first piece.  This change can be the:
  • color scheme
  • copy ('the drawing for the prize is every Wednesday' vs. 'weekly drawings for prizes')
  • more or less text
  • images
  • content layout
The overall goal is to determine which version of the promotional piece is more likely to generate the desired outcome.  This outcome may be: website hits, sales, page views, downloads, etc.

When professional 'marketeers' <like 'musketeers', but not>  use A/B Testing, they make sure to use the two pieces during the same time frame.  They also monitor the outcomes for an extended period of time (perhaps a few months to a year) and they distribute the studied pieces to a sizable audience.

Ok, A/B Testing is most definitely an advanced marketing topic for most of our readership.  However, this method more than proves that all of the marketing around you has been orchestrated and vetted to get you to buy MORE STUFF.  There's a reason why that Kit Kat wrapper is red - the color red catches your eye at the checkout stand and the image is designed to promote hunger....see what we mean? <Insert sinister organ music here.>

In all seriousness, we know that your marketing budgets are limited.  Therefore, we want you to be able to get the most mileage out of the money you spend!  You don't have to do your own A/B Testing.  But you can learn from the folks who have used this design methodology and model your promotions, website, and other marketing collateral on successful campaigns.

 Learn from the best for FREE!

For more information on A/B Testing, check out the content on the link below....pretty interesting stuff!

Morgan says: One of my HUGE take-aways from this blog post:

  • "“You Should Follow Me on Twitter Here” (Dustin Curtis)
    This much-hyped split-test involved testing multiple versions of a call to action for Twitter followers. Dustin found that “You should follow me on Twitter here” worked 173% better than his control text, “I’m on Twitter.”"
Who'd a thunk it?

Any marketing questions can be posed in the comments on any post. If you have a question, others will too, so we can address our answers to all. Our posts are myths and tips we feel are needed for us to share but we would love to target our answers to specific questions. 


  1. Hi:

    A great book on A/B split runs is “Tested Advertising Methods” (Prentice Hall Business Classics) by John Caples.

    As a retail marketing person, my rule was: Always be testing. The best A/B test is when the newspaper will let you run the two ads in the same location on the same page on the same day with each ad printed in every other copy of the newspaper. I’m not sure newspapers would let you do this today.

    When the two ads you run are just alike except for the headline and one ad pulls in 20x more sales than the other ad, that’s when you get a new respect for the power of words in copywriting. Caples book gives many examples of this. I have also seen such results myself.

    Offers can be tested as well. This is good for merchandisers. A $99 each recliner sale sold less recliners than the same recliners priced at 2 recliners for $198. My guess was that with two recliners, both the husband and wife got a recliner so there was less objection to spending the money. Who knows?

    Watch out in what you copy. If you copy the look and feel of the leader, the big guy is going to get your sales, you are not going to mistakenly get his customers.

    Everything depends on context. There is an ecology to marketing. Where is your product niche? If the color red were best, then all products would use red packaging.

    A lot depends on how you position your product. I think the most important book for anyone trying to understand marketing is “Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind by Al Ries, Jack Trout and Philip Kotler. I would read this book before any others.

    These are just a few ideas. I look forward to reading more of your posts.


  2. Hi Vince!

    Thanks for the great inputs and insights! I just ordered "Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind" and I am excited to have another resource for my personal business library. I am sure that it is full of information that Therese and I can use for this blog...and I can use in my day job.

    As authors, we more often than not put our own spin on content, even when we are channeling a well known / successful author. BUT I do agree that making too close of a copy defeats the purpose of your marketing campaign - your goal should be to rise above the fray by being unique and drawing attention to the great book (product) you have to offer.

    Since books are sold through retail channels, I look forward to seeing more of your comments on our posts.

    Thanks for following us!

  3. Hi Therese and Morgan,

    Love to give you an account to try A/B testing yourself its a lot of fun and super valuable... and easy.

    I'll reach out using the official contact form :-)