Who remembers the recurring bit on The Late Show with David Letterman, “Will it Float”? If you don’t, here is the premise; they would select a new item to throw in a tank and predict whether it would sink or float. After everyone debated, discussed, and guessed, Letterman’s assistants throw the object into the tank on the air.
What does this have to do with marketing?
We all have ideas about what will work when it comes to marketing. I have sat in countless meetings that revolved around the fortune-telling process of guessing which turn of phrase on a website would result in the most conversions.
It is like the beginning part of “Will it Float” – introduce an idea, and everyone guesses if it will work. Eventually, you have to throw your idea into the water to see if it works. But how will you know if it was truly successful?
The Water Tank of Websites, Split Testing
The beautiful thing is, you don’t have to guess which ideas will work. You can test it! Thanks to technology by Google and others, you can throw your ideas into the tank and see if they sink or swim. Honest, hard-data-driven feedback.
There is no point in sitting around and guessing about what will work when you can test it. The more a group of marketers disagrees about the website’s direction, the more we recommend split testing it. What is the point of arguing? You are all probably wrong.
How does it work?
Split testing takes a portion of your website or email list audience and sends them to an alternate message – on the web, that can be an entirely different page or just a separate color button. You define what you want the tools to measure. Does engagement increase? Do more users sign-up for something or complete a purchase? After 2-4 weeks, you have results.
We recommend taking the results and building a set of lessons learned guidelines. As you curate this document, you can tailor future messaging to your audience with more confidence rooted in actual data.
In emails, you can test content, subject lines, or the ‘from name.’ You send the variants to a selected portion of your audience. Once your email program chooses a winner, the rest of your audience gets the more successful variant.
If you feel like playing the digital version of will it float, consider split testing! (And if you need help running it, get started here.)