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Testing your marketing messages

By EMMA COAKES Published 9th Jan 2014
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Do you test your marketing messages or do you tend to either write naturally or write the same sort of things?

Writing naturally has a lot to be said for it, particularly now that the internet is moving to a more authentic and natural model. However, understanding what it is that makes your customers respond is an essential practice. It stems from one of the most important truisms in business; you are not your customer. What this means is that your customer may, and probably does, think differently about you and your product than you do. Many business owners can be rather blinkered when it comes to this, thinking that they know best or never venturing out of their mindset. Testing is one way of refining your understanding and removing the blinkers.

The first step is to make sure that you always add a call to action to your content. Without a call to action you have nothing to test. The call to action is the 'so what' and 'now what'. If people get to the end of your content what do you want them to do (which needs to align with what they want to do).

Calls to action might be '10% off in February', 'order over the internet and receive a free teddy bear' or 'offer ends in March'. They can be any incentive for people to take action now and, ideally, they should make it clear what to do next; pick up the phone, use an online form or send a smoke signal.

The most common form of testing is hypothesis testing (if you have a degree) or split testing (if you don't). They are the same thing, it's just one has a £30k student loan attached to it and is understood by fewer people. It is also known as A/B testing. The idea is fairly simple; you send out the same message with two different calls to action and measure the results. You need to send the messages out at the same time so results aren't affected by other events and you do need to have a fairly good sample size. Some people put this number at 1,000 if you are going to get meaningful results.

Large corporations split test on all sorts of different variables, for example fonts and colours. It's because of this that we know that cereals are blue and chocolates are purple. Smaller businesses will probably not be able to go into this level of detail, however it is worth thinking about changing your message and monitoring the results. Try different calls to action and you will eventually start to learn what it is that your market responds to.

If you don't do this and carry on speaking the same language in the same tone as you always have then you will get the same results. Those results may be perfectly acceptable, but you will miss out on important insights and not experience the satisfaction of seeing improving results with each campaign that you run.

You are not your customer, but with dedication and time you can learn where the differences are and find the right language to bridge them.

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240 weeks ago, by Tim
Great thoughts Emma. I notice that the majority of businesses talk about what they DO rather than the END RESULT which is what people are looking to buy.
240 weeks ago, by James
'Sell the sizzle not the sausage' is the old marketing maxim. It's a bit naff but it works.
240 weeks ago, by Tim
Not if you're a lifelong vegetarian.
239 weeks ago, by James
Well, it's a metaphor but it may be off putting to vegetarians. According to Wikipedia 3% are completely vegetarian and a further 5% partly vegetarian so that's 8% who are missing out on eating meat and potential business wisdom in the form of meat themed metaphors.
237 weeks ago, by Jackie
B&Q sell holes not drills. No-one really wants to buy a drill. What they want to buy is a hole in the wall.
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