Test for Success – Measure, Hypothesize, and Test Again

Omniture recently sent out a rather interesting promotion for their products.  They made a game out of showing a series of two ads side by side and asking the user which ad they thought performed best in head-to-head competition.  The object of the game is of course to correctly guess which ads performed the best and then you are told whether you were correct or not.  You are also provided with just a bit of detail about the results and why the ad you chose was the winner or the loser.  Now, we are not given any real data to see by how much one ad performed better than the other or how long the test was run, etc., but we are given some idea as to why one ad worked better than another.

Which banner performed best

The game is an interesting exercise that helps to reinforce how even relatively small changes in your ads can impact performance.  And the information you think will perform best doesn’t always.  Using the above screenshot of the game as an example, it would be great to see how much difference was made by using the image of the product in action compared to the clock in the other ad.  The copy is also a bit different.  Perhaps the image change made a huge difference!  Experimenting and testing even relatively small changes can indeed make a difference in performance.  And if you see this game and think, “this doesn’t apply to me – I don’t run banner ads!”, then you sire, aren’t stepping out of the box.

How does this apply to me?

There are a lot of ways that this kind of thinking can impact you and your business in big ways.  Think about what images you are using on your site.  Do you have generic images (perhaps from a stock photo site) that don’t truly show the products or services that you offer?  Think about testing a new image that actually displays something highly relevant to what you offer.  What would happen if you gave your newsletter signup form a more prominent placing on the homepage?  Would improving visibility garner you more contact information?  And what if you split your content into more easily digestible bullet points instead of blocks of text?  These are all very easy things to test.

The opportunities for testing definitely do not stop there.  If you’re running paid search ads, you’re probably testing some of this already:  ad copy 1 vs ad copy 2, various calls-to-action, and even the page URLs that you are displaying.

And you better believe the fun doesn’t stop there.  What impact will color have?  Does a red button gain more attention than a green button?  The opportunities for testing are endless.

Woah, take it easy there!

Tests can provide extremely valuable data and results but you do have to give them enough time to run and hopefully provide you with actionable data.  So before you go test happy and create numerous versions of ad copy, images, layouts, calls-to-actions, etc., consider what it is that you want to get out of this testing.  Gather up a big ol’ bucket of patience, and go about it methodically to get the most clear results.

Happy testing!