Testing. One, two three, testing.

Testing. One, two three, testing.

Testing is the most important function of demand generation, yet a lot of companies don’t maximize their testing efforts.  Or worse, don’t test at all.  That’s a shame because finding winning programs is what makes demand generation fun.  And proof of return is makes demand generation budgets cut resistant.

Here are some hints on how to set up a testing program:

  1. Before you kick off a test, make sure you can track results.  And that you make time in your schedule to read and digest what’s been learned.   Both are vital to success.
  2. Set a quantitative objective for each test.  My favorite metrics are those that tie into making money like cost per sale or cost per response.   I’m not a big fan of open or click rates.  In my opinion, if someone in sales can’t make a phone call to follow up, it doesn’t count.
  3. Testing programs should focus on identifying best performers.  Once you find one, that’s your control.  And your goal becomes constant testing to try to beat it.  One company I worked with had a successful outbound calling program that brought in a $10 cost per sale.   Everything I did focused on meeting or beating that.   Crystal clear!
  4. Test the things that make the most impact – list and offer.  In any demand generation program, these two items together factor 80% of success.  The right list means you’re reaching the right person.  The right offer means they’ve got a meaningful reason to respond.  Creative – subject line, copy and graphics – are important, but usually only count for about 20% of results.testingchart2
  5. If you’re testing a list, make sure each test cell has at least 5,000 names or the ability to bring in at least 10 responses.  Anything less and you’re not going to get statistically valid results.
  6. Once you’ve refined your list, offer and creative, consider testing other things that affect response.  Time or day of the week that you send, personalization, graphics, etc.   Test formats too.  When was the last time you sent some postal mail?  (See my blog on this).
  7. Your testing program is a great way to inspire creative thinking and to make friends in the company.  You never have to say no to any idea – you just say “let’s test it”.  (Plus in my experience, I regularly think to myself something suggested will never work, but when the test results are in, I’m wrong! Let’s call it an arrogance buster)
  8. Finding your winning program is important, but identifying a loser is often just as valuable.  If you can identify the things in your arsenal that are wasting money, you can allocate that budget elsewhere.  Plus losers are easier to spot.

Need help setting up a testing plan?  Call me.

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