Split tests in marketing and sales
More performance from your marketing campaigns and sales activities
Do you regularly test new ideas in your sales and marketing strategies? Are your campaigns based on solid data rather than feelings and experience? If not, you are probably losing money or spending more money than necessary to achieve the same results. Read this article to find out what split testing is and why it can boost your sales.
Why should you optimize sales and marketing?
According to advertising legend David Ogilvy, good advertising is advertising that also brings paying customers into the company. After all, we design campaigns and try to understand our target group better so that we can sell our products better. The same principle applies to sales. A good sales process brings new customers into the company in a repeatable and predictable way.
Effective sales and marketing therefore fulfills one of the most important tasks in any company. After all, a company can only generate the necessary cash flow to keep the rest of the company financially afloat and to pay for wages, buildings, vehicles, materials, etc. from a constant stream of new orders.
Studies at the Ehrenberg-bass Marketing Institute have shown that companies that grow sustainably and increase their market share are leaders in the acquisition of new customers. The more new customers were brought into the company through sales and marketing, the more the company grew as a result.
What are split tests?
In both sales and marketing, we are confronted with many factors that significantly influence our chances of success, but which we cannot change ourselves. These include the current mood of our customer, the economic situation, private situations, personal interests, etc. In the various approaches to optimizing digital sales or digital marketing, A/B tests, also known as split tests, have proven themselves time and again. This involves an experiment with different versions of a sales or marketing process.
For example, in half of our customer conversations, the product is already mentioned at the beginning, while in the remaining customer conversations, the product is only mentioned towards the end of the conversation. The results from both versions are collected and evaluated at the end of the test. This tells you whether it is more promising to talk to the customer about the product immediately or to ask questions during the customer conversation first and only mention the product at the end of the conversation.
Split tests are therefore equally suitable for methods in the digital world as they are for methods in the analog world of sales. They can be used to compare different ideas and solutions and measure the results. In this way, they make a lasting contribution to optimizing an existing process in sales or marketing. For example, two different telephone guides are tested to find out which one produces better results. The same principle can be applied to (digital) advertisements, email subject lines, individual processes in the sales funnel, sales presentations and virtually any interaction with the customer. These tests allow you to test hypotheses about the customer situation in a relatively short time and generate results much faster than relying on “experience” (Altschuler, 2016). With these split tests, you can gradually optimize every detail of your digital sales and marketing activities until you end up with a fully optimized process that delivers the best possible results. Every headline, every sentence, every conversation, every contact can achieve the maximum profit for your company. More importantly, split testing is always based on data rather than the opinions or feelings of those involved.
How do split tests work?
Split tests can be conducted in all interactions between us and our clients. Marketing expert Dan Kennedy describes that when he ordered a “Chivas Regal with water and a lemon peel”, 80% of the time he had to send the waiter back for a lemon peel.
A simple split test with a different sentence structure solved the problem. When he ordered “a lemon peel with water and a Chivas Regal”, 80% of the time he got exactly what he wanted on the first try.
Through a simple comparison, in which the sentence structure was reversed (sequence reversal), the optimal procedure became clear in order to get the desired result in most cases. The results became better and more predictable. The results were even better when Dan Kennedy was one of the last people at the table to order. Conversely, if he was one of the first to order, the results deteriorated again.
In order to optimize our process, we need to examine exactly what influences the behavior of our customers. As an example, let’s assume a company offers 3 different product variants.
How does the order of our offer options affect customer behavior? Does it make any difference at all? To find out, let’s take our website and create two different offer pages. Each of them contains our three offers. On the first one, we rank the offers as follows: VIP Package, Premium Package and Standard Package.
On the second page, the offers are listed in reverse order: Standard Package, Premium Package and VIP Package.
For a certain period of time, for example one week, we now place as much traffic as possible on both offer pages through advertisements. We divide the visitors as evenly as possible in order to get the same number of potential customers on both pages. If the listing of our products has an influence on the purchase decision, we should know exactly after this week. More importantly, however, we can now use this knowledge immediately and profitably in our quotations. Forget long discussions in meetings, pie charts about target group demographics and focus group interviews. Split tests give you real results quickly and reliably for better performance.
Where do you use split tests?
Split tests can be used wherever we come into contact with our customers. They are most urgently needed in situations where you can never really be sure how your counterpart will react. The main areas are therefore marketing campaigns, telephone scripts, sales presentations and offer design.
Especially in online marketing, with the extremely short attention span of users on social media, the mantra for a successful campaign is: test, test, test.
Here, even the smallest details can make a difference in performance, and therefore decide whether we make or lose money with our campaigns. As Brendan Kane, author of One Million Followers, describes in his book, to run an effective social media campaign we need to test even the smallest details, such as the font, over and over again.
To do this, he sets up to 20 different campaigns with the same content and the same target group, but a different font. He then tests the best-performing font with 20 different background images in new campaigns. Then he tests the best font again with the best background image but with different headlines, and so on. In this way, he evaluates not just two different approaches, but dozens against each other. In the end, he has created an almost accurate campaign for the target group that can offer the maximum return on investment for the advertiser.
All of this is possible through a series of systematic tests, learning and adapting the approach, and building on successful small details one by one.
In the same way, you can improve your marketing campaigns, optimize your sales pipeline, and much more to achieve better results with less time and monetary resources. It is also advisable to look at the “value ladder” or to think about your own differentiation.