Marketing campaigns can be difficult to implement for small businesses because a lack of research can cause a marketing strategy that costs thousands to turn belly-up. Figuring out how to best reach your audience has become easier with social media, and the medium provides an affordable proving ground for any business to test its methods.
What is split testing?
Split testing, also known as A/B or multivariate testing, allows companies to present multiple forms of a certain function to customers as a way to research which one does statistically better. An example of this would be giving customers a link that will send group A to one website layout design and group B to another without either knowing the difference. The process gives objective feedback and can be used in a number of different ways:
- Improving landing page copy.
- Figuring out peak hours for ad exposure.
- Which headlines draw attention and which do not.
- Understanding what pushes a consumer to fill out calls to action.
- How the visual elements are perceived.
The theory behind split testing is that it dispels assumptions being used to make marketing decisions, as overreliance on assumptions tends to hurt companies more than help, according to Entrepreneur.
“One rule of marketing that I’ve found to be true is that assumptions are usually wrong,” Kim Walsh-Phillips, CEO of Elite Digital Group, wrote on Entrepreneur. “When I’m speaking to an audience or presenting online training, I share some of our top split tests. And 90 percent of the time, the audience gets it wrong.”
Walsh-Phillips maintains that marketing strategies can’t be fully optimized until they are tested. She likens this mistake to an ice cream company shipping out a flavor to all of its stores before testing the flavors with different groups. If the business were to test its products and realize they were poorly received after the fact, they would end up wasting a large amount of money.
By using social media as a trial stage, companies can figure out which of their marketing messages will succeed in a larger scale environment.
Always understand your objective
Rolling out different forms of the same marketing campaign doesn’t do much good if you don’t know what your end goal is. Bridging this gap is key to successfully utilizing social media.
Before blasting your message everywhere, consider the audience you want to target. Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat will often reach younger audiences, while Facebook and Twitter tend to reach the general population, Forbes reported.
Once you’ve done that, identify the goal you want to achieve. This could be anything from simply gaining more website exposure, getting customers to fill out calls to action or getting them to purchase a product. Consider using split testing to figure out which website checkout configuration works best in tandem with social media traffic.
Using social media for marketing
Twitter and Facebook have become excellent avenues to disseminate marketing material and product information to customers, as well as receive feedback. It’s the latter part of this that’s so important. Everything on social media moves in real time, making it an excellent stage to test a marketing strategy quickly so your company can figure out what’s working and what isn’t. Here are a few things to consider if you want to use it to the fullest extent:
- Find your demographic: Walsh-Phillips recommends split testing to find the demographic that provides the best feedback, then relying on that target to conduct the rest of your testing.
- Test one at a time: By consistently rolling out new marketing ads without finishing the research on the previous one, you’ll be adding unnecessary variables to the test pool. Make sure you’ve completed your testing before continuing on to another item.
- Visual feedback: Sometimes it’s not the wording that jumps off the page for consumers, but rather the image. Play around with different colors on marketing campaigns that have an accompanying image.
- Clicks vs. conversions: Which option provides better feedback? Clicks show visibility, while conversions show that the message is providing a path for consumers to buy your product.
The ways to test a marketing campaign don’t begin and end there, but these tips provide the basis for beginning your research. Once you get a good grasp on how to use social media to drive usable results, you can then fine-tune certain aspects of your campaign or website using the demographic you’ve identified and started to trust.
How to start today
With or without a strong social media following, you can always gain insight from your customers:
- Identify what your end goal is. Is it to drive conversions, or simply gain publicity?
- Before rolling out an entire campaign, use a social media outlet to gain some knowledge on what’s working and what’s not.
- Continue to refine your results by analyzing the feedback and numbers from every campaign.
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