Three words that you’ll regularly hear at Add3: “Always be testing.” Whether it be ad copy, landing pages, display, targeting, or anything else that makes up a digital marketing campaign, testing is often the best way to determine what will make a campaign most successful. Getting results for our clients is our top priority. We’ve found that by ensuring marketing campaigns are developed with a budget and timeline that allows for proper testing, we are able to deliver results that even extend beyond our initial goals.
Let me lay out a pretty common account management scenario: a campaign is consistently hitting monthly goals and budget, everything is running smoothly, but growth has become stagnant. The client is hesitant to devote new dollars to testing out strategic targeting methods suggested by our team. The reasoning being “why fix what isn’t broken, right?” WRONG.
Testing can be scary, but since there is already an investment in this particular medium, a scarier thought would be to leave something running that isn’t driving the best performance possible. Allocating a portion of the budget for testing is a great way to try new methods without hurting overall efficiencies. You can do this while still hitting goals, but also continuing to find ways to expand and boost those numbers.
As Account Managers, we are always looking to improve campaign performance for our clients. Because Google, Bing, Facebook, and other platforms regularly launch new betas and segmentation options, testing is a critical part of growing campaigns effectively. Identifying an opportunity that fits in with the client’s business is the first step, but the buck doesn’t stop there. It’s crucial to set up a test so you are able to see the effect, clearly and concisely. Presenting a well-constructed test plan is a surefire way to ease some of the testing anxiety on the client side. Let’s take a look at the kinds of things every test plan should include.
- Goals – Figure out your key performance indicators (KPIs), and define the magic number that will allow you to declare the test a win. This could be increased volume, more efficient spending, or improvement in quality of users. Whatever that goal is, it should be clear and specific, and something that you communicate and work with your advertising partners on in order to define what success looks like.
- Timeframe – Leaving a test running for months and months is not going to be the best use of your advertising dollars. We suggest our clients decide on a maximum test duration based on previous tests and general experience on these types of campaigns (something your ad agency should be able to guide you on). If there are still no results when you get to that point, you can assume the test didn’t affect performance, positively or negatively, and you can declare it ineffective. In most cases, this does not mean you need to keep testing that same variable. It more often means a new variable should be tested.
- Reporting – Seeing the trends in real data is critical to this process, so make sure the reporting infrastructure is figured out before starting any tests.
- Coordinate Your Efforts – Check with other channels to ensure a clear view of results. Are there other variables or marketing initiatives that could potentially impact your test? While you can’t always control these variables, it’s good to have a thorough evaluation and understanding of potential impacts.
- Don’t Go In With Expectations – Questions like, “What kind of lift will this create?” can oftentimes be as simple as “I don’t know.” It’s likely that this is exactly why you’re testing. However, if you have seen results from a similar test elsewhere, be careful to not set concrete expectations before you begin since every campaign, company, and industry will drive unique results.
What If It Fails?
Ah, yes. A marketer’s biggest fear when it comes to testing. Sometimes as marketers we have the best ideas that have been vetted and strategically approached and planned for, yet we may not get the results we were looking for—or any results at all (as noted above).
That’s okay… this is not a failure! This is exactly why it’s called a test. Sometimes you win and sometimes you don’t, but you always learn something. For your next round of testing, take what you learned from the previous test, and apply that knowledge! Tis better to have tested and lost, than to never have tested at all. (I’m almost positive that’s the original quote.)
Testing is a crucial aspect of a healthy and growing digital marketing campaign. So, make sure you are setting yourself up up for success by planning for tests, and working with experts that know how to effectively and efficiently create test plans based on experience and using the best tools available.