Having too many good ideas is a great problem to have, but knowing which of those will resonate best with your audience is not. Choosing the wrong subject line, content asset, or design can lead to lackluster results and send your hard work down the drain. While most of us are allowed a marketing miss or two, one too many could lead to wasted efforts and missed opportunities for ROI.
If you’re like me, you probably prefer to stick to creative tasks and leave data and analytics to others on your team. The problem with that approach is that it leads to random acts of marketing that might not always correlate with the interests and pain points of your target audience or where they are in the sales funnel. So, in order to get the results you want, you need to launch personalized marketing efforts that engage, nurture, and convert your audience.
So what can marketers do to hit the nail on the head when it comes to producing effective and engaging marketing efforts? To start, you have to stop looking at the process of gathering and analyzing data as an unbearable and impossible task, and start thinking of it as a source of inspiration. When fully leveraged, good data opens the door for you to produce creative campaigns that generate results. By taking time to test your efforts and gather insights, you’re carving the way toward producing a more targeted and effective digital marketing strategy.
Today, we’re on a quest to help you eliminate the guesswork by outlining how your marketing team can benefit from practicing A/B testing. Keep reading if you’re ready to start gathering data that will help you optimize engagement and drive sustainable results.
What Is A/B Testing and Why Should You Implement It?
In the marketing world, A/B testing allows you to compare two versions of the same marketing asset with one distinct variable to determine which one resonates best with your audience and will garner better results. If you want to reap the full rewards of A/B testing, it is important to make this process a continuous effort. You can continue to test the same asset (also known as the constant, this is the version that usually generates the best results) against a new contender every time.
But why is A/B testing so important and why should it be a continuous effort? Repeating this process will help you uncover insights regarding your audience’s preferences and enable you to optimize your efforts for better engagement and conversions. While there might be a great amount of guesswork the first go around, you’ll eventually learn what your audience wants to hear and see — and when. And the more you practice A/B testing, the more your focus will shift from figuring out what works to fine-tuning campaigns and efforts that you already know will be a big hit.
What Should You A/B Test, Why, and How Often?
Now that you get the gist of what A/B testing is, you’re probably wondering how to implement it as a holistic part of your marketing plan. You can A/B test pretty much anything, but we recommend that you focus on the variables that are likely to pack the most punch to begin with and then move on to more minute details.
For example, if you’re trying to generate better results from your email marketing, you should consider the buyer journey as you work on A/B testing different elements. Your first goal should be to get your email delivered and opened, so your subject line is a good place to start. Once you’ve gathered enough data to understand what kind of subject lines resonate with your audience, you can move on to testing copy and CTAs. The end goal is to optimize your efforts so that they motivate your customers to keep progressing through the entire customer journey.
As to how often you should A/B test your efforts, that’s really up to you, but we recommend not to let your efforts remain stagnant for too long. At Act-On, we meet monthly to review the results of our campaigns and optimize them accordingly. We’re very fortunate that the Act-On platform makes it easy to A/B test elements in email, landing pages, and forms so that we can ensure that every single effort we launch is tailored to pique the interest of our audience, encourage them to engage, and convince them to convert.
What Can You Do With the Insights You Collect Through A/B Testing?
As we’ve mentioned a few times, the greatest benefit of A/B testing is that it allows you to optimize your efforts. A mistake that many marketers make, however, is not looking at the bigger picture when analyzing their results. Whether you’re testing a subject line, preview text, design, or CTA, you should use your findings to inform your overall marketing strategy and business efforts.
Think about where else you can apply your findings aside from the variable at hand. These are a few areas where you can leverage the results of your A/B testing for maximum impact:
- Content Strategy: Using the results you gather from A/B testing CTAs and topics is a great way to determine which direction to take when it comes to developing your content strategy. If you notice that certain content pieces or topics are generating a lot of buzz across the board, that’s a good indicator that you should produce similar content in the future.
- Sales Funnel Optimization: Have you noticed that, despite the fact that you’ve invested a great amount of time A/B testing and optimizing your efforts, your leads still seem to disappear at certain points in the customer journey? If so, you should take a step back to determine what kind of changes you can make (beyond testing variables) to improve the customer journey and keep your target audience moving through the sales funnel.
- Pricing Strategy: Comparing your pricing with your competitors is a good place to start if you want to determine how much to charge customers for products or services. A/B testing prices with your own customers, however, can provide more thorough insight into how much your customers are willing to pay for what you have to offer. This practice can help you figure out a pricing strategy moving forward and also provide information about things you can do to increase the value of your offerings in the eyes of your consumers.
You don’t have to be sneaky about testing pricing. Sustainable clothing company Everlane, for example, has a pretty interesting approach to A/B testing pricing on their website. The company’s “Choose What You Pay” section gives customers the option to pick one of three listed prices on overstock items. This enables the company to get rid of surplus stock by offering discounted prices while collecting important data that tells them how much customers are willing to pay for their products.
- Paid Search: Whether you’re a B2B or B2C organization, chances are you rely on some sort of paid ads to capture the attention of your target audience and generate new opportunities. A/B testing can help you determine the best social media platform to use to promote your ads, the most effective placement, and even which keywords to use. This will not only lead to better conversions but also help you effectively manage where you allocate your budget.
- Email Marketing: If you’re not already A/B testing your email marketing efforts, then you should start doing so as soon as possible for multiple reasons. To start, you can’t see results from your email efforts if your messages are not getting delivered, opened, and read.
In addition to following best practices for deliverability, you need to ensure that everything from your subject line to your copy, design, and CTAs all resonate with your audience and motivate them to convert. Testing each email element individually can help you uncover many insights about your target audience’s preferences, which you can use to inform and optimize your email marketing strategy over time.
The Right Platform Can Make A/B Testing Your Efforts Second Nature and Empower You to Leverage Your Findings
Let’s be honest, this is probably not the first time you’ve heard about the benefits of A/B testing, but you’re probably not making it a consistent effort because of the amount of time and resources it takes to test variables, gather data, and analyze your results. Implementing this practice and leveraging your findings doesn’t have to be a tedious task, however — especially if you’re using a comprehensive marketing automation tool such as Act-On.
Act-On not only makes the A/B testing process a breeze — allowing you to test practically any variable on everything from emails to landing pages to your website — but it also allows you to put the insights you gather into action easily. Our platform’s Data Studio enables you to consolidate your data and create reports so you can easily analyze your results. To top it all off, Act-On provides the tools you need to easily build email nurture campaigns and landing pages, score leads, segment your audience, and more.
If you’d like to learn more about how Act-On’s powerful marketing automation platform can help you enhance every single aspect of your marketing strategy, we invite you to schedule a demo with one of our digital marketing experts.