Editor’s Note: This subject line contest is no longer accepting entries. Check out “The Writer’s Dilemma:How to know which marketing copy will really be most effective” to see which entry won, why it won and what you can learn from that to further improve your own marketing.
This blog post ends with an opportunity for you to win a stay at the ARIA Resort & Casino in Las Vegas and a ticket to Email Summit, but it begins with an essential question for marketers:
How can you improve already successful marketing, advertising, websites and copywriting?
Today’s MarketingExperiments blog post is going to be unique. Not only are we going to teach you how to address this challenge, we’re going to also offer an example to help drive home the lesson. We’re going to cover a lot of ground today, so let’s dive in.
Give the people what they want …
Some copy and design is so bad, the fixes are obvious. Maybe you shouldn’t insult the customer in the headline. Maybe you should update the website that still uses a dot matrix font.
But when you’re already doing well, how can you continue to improve?
I don’t have the answer for you, but I’ll tell you who does — your customers.
There are many tricks, gimmicks and types of technology you can use in marketing, but when you strip away all the hype and rhetoric, successful marketing is pretty straightforward — clearly communicate the value your offer provides to people who will pay you for that value.
Easier said than done, of course.
How do you determine what customers want and the best way to deliver it to them?
Well, there are many ways to learn from customers, such as focus groups, surveys and social listening.
While there is value in asking people what they want, there is also a major challenge in it.
According to research from Dr. Noah J. Goldstein, Associate Professor of Management and Organizations, UCLA Anderson School of Management, “People’s ability to understand the factors that affect their behavior is surprisingly poor.”
Or, as Malcom Gladwell more glibly puts it when referring to coffee choices, “The mind knows not what the tongue wants.”
This is not to say that opinion-based customer preference research is bad. It can be helpful. However, it should be the beginning of your quest, not the end.
… by seeing what they actually do
You can use what you learn from opinion-based research to create a hypothesis about what customers want, and then run an experiment to see how they actually behave in real-world customer interactions with your product, marketing messages and website.
The technique that powers this kind of research is often known as A/B testing, split testing, landing page optimization or website optimization. If you are testing more than one thing at a time, it may also be referred to as multivariate testing.
To offer a simple example, you might assume that customers buy your product because it tastes great and because it’s less filling. Keeping these two assumptions in mind, you could create two landing pages — one with a headline that promotes that taste (treatment A) and another that mentions the low carbs (treatment B). You then send half the traffic that visits that URL to each version and see which performs better.
Here is a simple visual that Joey Taravella, Content Writer, MECLABS created to illustrate this concept:
That’s just one test. To really learn about your customers, you must continue the process and create a testing-optimization cycle in your organization — continue to run A/B tests, record the findings, learn from them, create more hypotheses and test again based on these hypotheses.
This is true marketing experimentation, and it helps you build your theory of the customer.
Try your hand at A/B testing for a chance to win
Now that you have a basic understanding of marketing experimentation (there is also more information in the “You might also like” section of this blog post that you may find helpful), let’s engage in a real example to help drive home these lessons in a way you can apply to your own marketing challenges.
To help you take your marketing to the next level, The Moz Blog and MarketingExperiments Blog have joined forces to run a unique marketing experimentation contest.
In this blog post, we’re presenting you with a real challenge from a real organization and asking you to write a subject line that we’ll test with real customers. It’s simple; just leave your subject line as a comment in this blog post.
We’re going to pick three subject lines from The Moz Blog and three from the MarketingExperiments Blog and run a test with this organization’s customers.
Whoever writes the best performing subject line will win a stay at the ARIA Resort in Las Vegas as well as a two-day ticket to MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2015 to help them gain lessons to further improve their marketing.
Sound good? OK, let’s dive in and tell you about your client: