Testing is one of most important functions of demand generation, yet a lot of companies don’t test at all. Sadly, the number one excuse I hear is lack of time. But since testing and identifying winning programs means higher ROI and better results with less wasted effort, it really should be the priority.
Here are some hints on how to test:
- Before you start, make sure you can track results and that you schedule time to read, digest and socialize what you’ve learned. All three are vital to success.
- Set a quantitative objective for each test, ideally metrics that tie into making money like cost per sale or cost per response. Things like opens and clicks are interesting, but ROI focused analytics are more important.
- Set up your reporting. And if it’s hard to get reporting on your objectives, find some help. Don’t change your test to just what is easy to track.
- The first thing you need to do is find your “control”. That’s the best performing program that you’ll be constantly testing against to see if you can do better. Start with one campaign and test against it, rank the winners and test again. Rinse and repeat. Once you have an established history, you’ll have one or two things that always work and your job gets easier. You’re just trying to find out if anything new compares.
- Every demand generation channel can benefit from a testing strategy:
- For email, test the things that make the most impact – list and offer. (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. Once you’ve nailed these, look at creative – particularly subject line. Then copy and graphics. Then, consider testing date/time of send, personalization and format.
- For content posting, start by testing where you post content, then the offer and creative.
- For social, it’s similar – the platform, the offer and then, creative.
- For outbound and SDR follow up – test offers, email subject lines and copy. And for outbound calls, test dialing right after someone engages and double dialing to see if you get more connects.
- For events and webinars – it’s content (tracking registration and attendance). Then creative. But additionally, once the event is over, test which follow up offers bring the highest conversions to meetings or sales.
- Test new channels. (For example, when was the last time you sent postal mail?)
- Make sure your results are statistically relevant. For email, make sure each test cell has at least 5,000 names. And for content posting, events, social, etc., look at the impressions and make sure you can predict you’ll get at least 50 responses in each test cell.
- Test long enough. One digital impression or an offer someone sees once isn’t predictive on its own. Give things time to get viewed and for prospects to respond. For an ad, at least 30 days. And for an email, test a couple of times before you call the results.
- One note – be aware of what is happening when you test. An email that goes the day of a big news event will have skewed results. Ditto for a holiday week. And for many, the pandemic, shut down and reopening have changed the way that prospects respond to offers. Be prepared to re-validate results periodically as things normalize.
- Another benefit of a testing program is that it’s a great way to invite collaboration within your company. If a colleague or the sales team has an idea and you’re not sure it will work, don’t say no. Test it and see what happens.
- Save budget to test. Ideally this means you set aside a percentage to invest in future efficiency and higher return. I don’t think there is a hard number, but 10-20% of your budget is a good place to start.
- Commit to failing sometimes. While finding your winning program is important, identifying a loser is just as valuable. That means you can allocate that time and budget elsewhere.
- Enjoy the creativity! Like a chef with a new recipe, testing is the fun part of demand generation. So, start thinking of experiments and make the time to play and learn.
Need help setting up a testing plan? Call me.