A/B testing for agile marketing success

We’re excited about the fact that agile marketing, which is an approach that we’ve been practicing and promoting for years, is gaining enormous popularity. As we’ve pointed out before, the main idea behind agile marketing is that you act swiftly, track all of your actions, measure your results, and then analyze what you need to adjust in order to optimize your strategy. That’s why metrics are so crucial when it comes to agility.
One very effective way to quickly identify some of the things that work and that don’t work is to A/B test. What that means is that you have two or more versions of a marketing-related piece and swap them out randomly so that you can see which version generates the best results. The simplest form of A/B testing is applied to buttons. For instance, you may want to find out if your “Free Trial” button performs better if it’s green or blue. But you can also A/B test other aspects of your strategy. Keep in mind that while it’s a huge time saver to have a marketing tool that can automate some of your A/B testing, there are also things that you can do manually do to perform some simple tests.

Let’s look at some opportunities for A/B testing.

No, I’m not suggesting that you have two different web designs that you randomly switch out. As with everything agile, it’s about small pieces. Start with your calls to action (also known as callouts). Test rounded edges versus straight angles, different background colors, fonts, and graphics. What types of design elements resonate most strongly with your target audience?

When it comes to calls to action, I typically like to keep the wording as straightforward as possible, but it’s always best to test small variations. Does a question posed prominently get your audience’s attention, or is a statement of a problem or solution more effective? Do explanation marks work or is it better to nix them? Which verbs seem to be the most powerful? Sure, there are plenty of articles that talk about best practices when it comes to callouts, but at the end of the day, the best research for your business is your own.

Since content is the very heart of your marketing campaigns, agile marketers always strive to assess what type of content is most beneficial to their customers and prospects. What are the topics that they’re most interested in? What are the preferred delivery mediums? Does a white paper on a particular subject fare better than a webinar? Use your calls to action, tracked links, and your social media channels to promote different types of content and analyze your findings, so that you can focus your efforts on the topics and the mediums that generate the best response.

“Inbound is in, outbound is out” is a marketing cliché that we debunked in one of our previous posts. After all, successful marketing is all about great content, regardless of whether you use inbound or outbound channels to promote it. As a result, we consider email a very vital aspect of both marketing and sales. In order to be able to optimize your emails for maximum results, test multiple versions of the same email and review your open rate and click-through rate. If you have several people on your team who use email campaigns, ask them to do the same and discuss your findings as  a group.

Social posts
The success of your social posts is fairly easy to measure, since you can use tracked links to see how many people clicked on each post. Some of the things that you can test include: best days and times to post, most effective hashtags for Twitter, tone of the post (humorous, thought-provoking/controversial, matter of fact, etc.), and the type of content that you promote. In addition, when testing your social posts, you may also want to measure the engagement it fosters, so don’t forget to look at likes, shares, re-tweets, and comments.

As you can see, one of the key components of successful agile marketing is frequent testing of and measuring in small iterations, which allows you to continuously tweak and optimize your strategy for better ROI. Have you incorporated some level of A/B testing into your marketing processes? What are some of the things that you measure?

Kat is the CEO of Spectate. Her goal is to empower users to create and manage their web content and to provide them with the tools to become even better content marketers. Connect with Kat on Google+!

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