By MaryEllen Tribby
Every good marketer I know loves marketing. They read as much as they can about it, understand the elements that make up a good marketing campaign, and are always thinking of ways to make each campaign better.
However, every great marketer I know not only loves marketing, but they also understand that marketing is a methodical process. They know that the science behind marketing is MORE important than the creative driving the marketing.
But...the greatest marketers of all are those who love marketing AND use logic to track and read results. They are the ones who understand the value of testing and live it every day.
Know Your ABT's
If you ask any great marketer the number rule of marketing they will say ALWAYS BE TESTING!
It saddens me when I meet young marketers and they dismiss testing with a wave of the hand. They assume a single panel campaign they send to their prospects is the best way to go.
If you don't test, your business will not grow. Think about it. How can you possibly improve on your results if you do not go through the testing process? You can't?
Because this is one of the only ways to discover what your prospects want, let's start at the beginning.
What Is Testing
In direct response marketing, testing is the process of two or more variations of a single variable offered to prospects simultaneously and coming to some conclusion based on responses.
Testing is a great way to tap into a new audience, explore a new market or niche, compare response rates on direct marketing fundamental elements, and get insight on a new concept or promotional package.
Testing is beyond theory and can be applied to most any business and marketing channel. If you have ever wondered to yourself, "can I sell my product or service the way I want and at the price I want" - testing gives you the answers.
You could be asking if you can charge more for your product, or whether a new marketing message will work to your target audience. You might want to see if you can cut costs by reducing the number of bonuses offered or changing your shipping and handling charges.
Generally testing will fall into four categories. You should either be testing:
Copy: The Message Behind Your Product
When talking about copy tests, I am talking about any test where you change copy against your control. Don't be scared off by thinking that it will be an expensive test and you have to have a full blown new creative package against your control. This is not always the case. There are lots of ways for you to test copy.
The best copy tests are:
* Subject lines
* You can test formats: Long coy vs. short copy or text vs. HTML
* You can test leads (the first two to three pages of your copy)
* You can test headlines
* Background colors
* You can test closes (adding a P.S.)
* And, you can test entirely new packages
In the long run your biggest breakthroughs will come from completely new creative packages with new messaging and positioning.
Always ask yourself if your test is meaningful and will provide you with a significant boost in response. Do not test minor and frivolous things. Meaning, always test things that SCREAM not whisper.
Product: Evolution is a Must
Good products are things that meet certain needs and solve particular problems. But, what solves a problem today is not necessarily what will work tomorrow.
A common mistake many entrepreneurs make is becoming very knowledgeable about a product without knowing how to market. Extreme product knowledge without marketing knowledge gives you a false sense of control. Sure it allows you to answer all the questions. But, in the long run, it is NOT as important as knowing how, when and why customers buy.
Having market knowledge means that you understand the attractiveness of the product rather than the product itself. It means you understand its benefits, not just its features. It means that you know what the customers' want, need and desire so intimately that you can reinvent the product before they even realize it needs to be reinvented.
At this point you can test the products against each other. This part is hard because you have to assume you know nothing and let the market tell which product they want.
Being a market expert implies having a very good understanding of the selling process. Everything from how its done, why it works, what is essential and what's not.
Rate yourself by answering these questions:
1. What is the most important psychological benefit your product offers?
2. What is the most common mistakes other marketers make when selling a similar product.
3. How have YOUR customers' need and desires changed in the recent past?
4. What changes have you made to accommodate those changes?
Products and services are not static things. They exist in relation to markets. Markets are a collection of individuals with changing needs, values and perceptions. As time passes, these things change - and if your products/service doesn't change, you will be handing your market share to your competitor.
Offer: It Can Make it or Break it
The offer is the third make it or break it factor in the direct response world. When it comes to testing there are three main components to test. In order of importance they are:
Price: For example if you have published a special report on how to lose weight by eating three grapefruits a day. How much will people pay for it? Maybe $9.95 or $19.95 or $29.95? You just don't know until you test. Often you will be amazed at how many people place orders at prices you thought were sky high. Look at what your competition is charging to give you an idea of where your price points should be. Then, test from there.
Term: Should be for orders or leads. Should you offer a 1-year and a 2-year subscription or a 1 year and 5 year subscription? Do you offer 3 free bonuses or 6 free bonuses? Do you offer a physical product such as supplement holder or information on the benefits of a certain type of supplement? You just will not know until you test.
Refund policy: The "If you are not 100 percent satisfied, simply return this product to us within xx days and we will gladly refund 100% of your money" is really one of the most used refund policy.
But what is that xx magic number? Is it 30 day, 60 days, 90 days, one full year or your life time? Generally speaking, the longer the refund period, the lower the refund rate. But, too many marketers are afraid to offer long-term refunds. So, what do you do? - TEST.
List/Media: The Best for Last
List and media testing is something you will do when launching your online business and something you should continue to do with each mailing.
You will always be on the lookout for potential new lists of people to buy your products. List testing will reveal new segments of buyers and help grow your business. Here's how it works:
You may take previously mentioned "Forget Cholesterol" package and test it to a variety of different health lists to see which list produced the better response. When you start your list research for a particular product you will generally find the lists fall into different categories. For our example for a heart health product you can break down the list universe into the following categories:
* Other alternative heart health products
* Other heart lists (subscriptions, fundraising)
* General nutritional health lists
* Specific condition alternative health lists
* Health newsletter list
Take the time to go through this exercise BEFORE your next mailing. Once you have categorized your lists you will see which category has the most available names.
You should always consider the longterm implications of your testing. If you bring people in on a heavily discounted offer, that is what they will want to see in other offers from you. If you have tests that are premium intensive, then your customers will want to see those kind of offers again and again.
Consider this when you are setting up your tests. Be sure whatever copy you use is clear and specific.
The important thing is to be selective. Don't test everything. Don't over test. Use tests only to increase your current response rates by AT LEAST 25% and up to 100%.