Strategy: Anatomy of a Marketing Test
Testing is the way to the promised land. Without testing, you’re up a creek without a paddle. Although some elements are easier to test than others, just about everything can be tested.
Properly structuring a test is a whole other matter. It means testing only one variable at a time. It requires focusing on keeping all elements the same, except for the one variable being tested.
If you’re testing two offers against one another and against a control group, for example, be sure all variables and conditions are the same for each test group. As far as the difference between a control group and a test group, what you’ve been doing — offering no promotional incentive, for example — would constitute the control. Therefore, doing something different, such as offering a promotional incentive to a group of prospects, would be the test group.!
Promote It the Same Way
Also, the same catalog should be mailed to all test panels on the same date. The offer should be promoted in exactly the same way. So, if you’re promoting the offer on the front cover for one test panel, do the same for on the other test panel. Promoting your offer on the cover for one group and on the inside order form for another group doesn’t constitute a valid test; the offer’s design must be the same. Thus, the only variable in your testing should be the copy describing the offer.
I’ve developed rules for testing orders. I’ve found that following these simple rules ensures an accurate, measurable result and a sound conclusion.
1. Clearly define the purpose — your objective.
2. Prepare a pro forma; do your financial analysis.
3. Always test against a control.
4. Only test one variable at a time.
5. Don’t test during peak season (unless necessary).
6. Always re-test against a control or another offer.
7. Make sure your sample size gives you statistically valid results.
8. Properly source code the control and test groups.
9. Read the results and act on what you see!