Advertising Testing: A/B Split Tests & Successful Split Testing Tips

Your advertising is like a muscle. The theory goes, every time you flex it, more customers come in. The stronger your muscle gets, the more people are walking (or clicking) into your store. In this article we'll show you a great workout that will build your advertising muscle.

Remember those advertisements in old comic books? Beside the X-ray specs and hand-buzzer novelties was the small book that professed to turn a 90 pound weakling into a powerhouse. Typically the picture would show a guy and a girl on a beach. A muscle bound man would kick sand in the weakling’s face. The skinny boy would go home, buy and use a workout regimen, and return to the same beach. The 4 panel cartoon would usually end with the former weakling punching out the bully while his girlfriend stood proudly by.

If the competition is bullying you around and walking away with prospects you’re trying to turn into customers, maybe it’s time you did an advertising workout.

The classic advertising workout method is simple: it’s called “split testing” or “A/B split testing.” Essentially it’s the process where you compare the effectiveness of two kinds of advertisements and use the more effective one.

The reason you only compare two is because you get a truer reading on the effectiveness of each advertisement compared to the other.

How do you do it? Here are some ideas:

1. One of the first A/B split tests you should do is with your web page. Create another web page with different sales copy from your original. Measure traffic for a period of time (for example, a week or two weeks or a month) then replace it with the new web page for the same period of time. Test the results and use the most effective one. Do this again and again and again, every time you make a change.

2. Here’s how you test your print advertising: Buy a couple URLs and post identical content on both. (After all, you’ve already measured the content it to determine its effectiveness). Create 2 identical ads and put one in one magazine and another in another magazine and have each ad drive the prospect to a different URL. You’ll be able to see which magazine is more effective. Or, create two different ads and advertise in the same magazine (with different URLs on each ad). This is how you test the effectiveness of your print ads themselves.

3. Do the same with your online advertising: Change the wording on your banner ad or text ad after a period of time and compare it to the same period of time for the previous ad.

4. Split testing works for any kind of information you want to measure. For example, create two nearly identical print ads – one with your phone number and one with your URL – and see which one is more effective. Or charge two different prices (for example $9.99 one month and $12.99 the next month) and see which one sells more.

There are two secrets to successful split testing:

1. Only make one change at a time. For example, don’t test your print ads and your web content. Otherwise, you won’t know what it is that’s influencing the numbers.

2. Each time you use split testing, use the most effective one, but don’t stop there. Design a new advertisement and compare it again. Do split test advertising over and over again to constantly adjust your message and make it the most effective it can be.

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