In this three-part series I’ll be sharing in depth how to test, measure and track your way to success with content. The idea is to effectively utilize content to maximize your marketing efforts and budgets. As the saying goes, “Why guess when you can test with content?”
Direct marketers have been testing for over 100 years. Pioneers like John Caples and David Ogilvy are among the greats who paved the path for us today. Both of these men were avid testers who learned the art and science of testing their clients’ advertising and marketing over the years.
My testing experience in marketing and advertising goes back to 1988, at my first marketing agency, MMI, in Redmond, Washington. After studying Ogilvy and learning from a local creative director who worked at Strategic Direct, I implemented a strategy that helped us win a client and promote a successful event. This success led to many more testing opportunities offline and online over the years, including one involving USWest Direct (now Dex).
Today, when the vast majority of marketers look at testing, it is usually related to advertising, public relations or offline efforts, not content. Advertising online usually equates to Google Adwords, Facebook ads and other similar pay-per-click or per-per-view opportunities. After all, the internet is the greatest direct response platform the world has ever known and advertisers have been taking advantage of it since its arrival in the early 1990s. The web brings us a vast landscape of arenas that you and I can use to test, measure and track our way to success.
Testing has grown easier over the years. In this day of the internet you can test just about everything, including articles, blog posts, landing pages, emails and even audio files. Even radio can be tested, although this falls into the advertising category.
As of this writing, Google, Facebook and YouTube are still the fastest tools for testing content. Testing can be done within hours and the results can be eye opening and even jaw dropping.
Testing Your Content
Now let’s dig into how you can test with content.
Testing can be done many different ways. There's the A/B split test that tests two versions of the same content, the triple split which tests three versions and quadruple tests (also known as an A/B/C/D test) where up to four different versions of a piece of content are published and their results compared.
The idea with any of these tests is that you create two to four pieces of content with different versions of select variables such as subject lines, headlines, bullet points, calls to action, keywords, phone numbers, URLs, graphics, overlays, even voices. These pieces of content should be almost the same but have one variance that allows you to see what works and what doesn’t.
The simplest first test is to see which of your calls to action (CTAs) gets the best response. Follow that by testing your headline, photos and so on. Your procedure could look something like this:
Create two articles which are exactly the same except for the call to action. For example, article A could point the reader to a URL leading to a landing page and article B could list a phone number for them to call. The version that gets the best response wins.
Using the CTA that won the first test, take the same two articles but change the headline in article B. The headline with the best results is the winner.
Go one step further and add two different photos to each article and see which one wins with more views.
Add a video to the article that lost in test #3, remove the photos and run again against the winner.
Once you complete your initial testing and analyze your results, you can tweak your variables with the goal of the next piece of content beating out your previous content.
Whether it’s more clicks, views, chats, emails, phone calls, subscriptions, sign ups or sales, you’ll be glad you tested your content.
Content in the Wild
During the last year, I’ve been testing posted content on LinkedIn. And what this testing proved over time is that you can get solid results with photos and snippets. I’m not saying this is for everyone, but if you are looking to attract more people in the business community, LinkedIn may be one social engine you test.
What it all comes down to is this: The more you test, the better you can see the results and how your content performs. Again, “Why guess when you can test with content?” Test, test, test — all of your content and all of your marketing. This way you’ll know what works, what doesn’t and how you can best position your content in each of your channels online and off.
Stay tuned in as we continue our content journey, diving into the topics of measuring and tracking so your testing doesn’t go to waste.
About the Author
|Dave Krygier is a veteran content producer who on any given day can be found producing, directing, wordsmithing and crafting stories for businesses, ministries and nonprofit organizations. His content creation journey began in the 1980s as a musician, producer and marketer in the recording and live production industries. He is also a published author and the creator of the Content Gathering System available at ContentGathering.Solutions
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