Do you know my favorite part about Google Adwords? It’s the SPLIT TESTING capabilities.
It’s a great place to test headlines, specific words, URLs and identify what works in your market. And best of all, it’s quick. You can gather valuable feedback in a matter of hours.
Not only that, but Google actually rewards you for improving your ads too. The Google formula for the ranking is:
(Your bid) X (Click Through Rate).
(Your click-through-rate is the % of people that click on your ads. For example, if 20 people out of 1000 click on your ad – your CTR is 2%.)
With Google Adwords, you can literally set up hundreds of tests each week and get massive amounts of information back. Then, you transfer the data back into the other parts of your business:
– the optin page
– the sales letter
– the offer
– the email sequences
– back end product creation
Simply put, Adwords is one of the fastest place to test ideas.
There are 5 core drivers to every successful Adwords Ad. These are:
Often, you’ll find 2, 3, 4 or even all 5 of these drivers inside of just one ad.
Let’s go deeper into each one, so you can see for yourself how you can use them in your ads.
There are a total of 9 different emotions that you’ll want to test in your Adwords Ads:
And here’s an example of how to use each of these emotions in the internet marketing industry, for example:
Shame: “I’m ashamed I’ve spent so much money on courses, but I haven’t done anything.”
Guilt: “I feel guilty that I’m spending my family’s lifesavings and I’m not making any money.”
Apathy: “I feel it’s HOPELESS to make any money on the internet.”
Sadness: “I’m depressed about my financial situation and my lack of success.”
Fear: “I’m terrified I’m going to be a broke loser and work a job I hate the rest of my life.”
Desire: “There’s nothing I want more than to achieve success on the internet!”
Anger: “I’m so freaking pissed off about having lost so much time, energy and money and I still don’t have a success yet!”
Pride: “Yes I’m a success! I can finally buy a fancy car and show the world who I am.”
These are essentially the ‘emotional angles’ you will want to experiment with when crafting and testing your ads. You simply need to adapt them, so that they ‘fit’ the market you’re operating in.
A ‘benefit’ is simply what someone stands to gain from using your products or services. It can be the ultimate end result they desire, or one of the stepping stone triumphs they will enjoy along the way, as part of the overall experience.
Let’s say we were in the dating market. Here are some potential benefits that might appeal to men:
– More dates
– More dates with beautiful women
– More physical intimacy
– More respect from other guys
– Finding the woman of their dreams
– Someone to share their life with
– Getting married
– Having a family
In contrast to a benefit, a “feature” is simply the date, facts, figures and specifications that your product or service has.
For example, the features of a Porche 911 could be:
– It goes from 0 to 60 in 4 seconds
– It has 550 brake horsepower
– It’s jet black
– It has leather seats
Bear in mind, your prospects only care about a handful of these. They don’t care about all of them. And the only way, you’re going to find out which ones they care about is to TEST, TEST AND TEST.
Different kinds of “promises” you can test include:
– Guarantees: money back, double your money back, 30-day, 60-day, 90-day, 1-year, etc.
– Free shipping: If you’re selling a physical product, this might be worth testing to see if it boosts your sales conversion rates.
– Numbers: This could relate to the number of tips you have to share, how many products you have left in stock, etc.
– Minutes, Hours, Weeks, Days and Months: Time until a special offer ends, how quickly a problem can be solved, etc.
When I say “style”, we’re really talking about the overall tone and delivery of your ad.
Here are some examples of styles:
– Funny: if appropriate for your market, experiment with injecting your ads with a bit of humor.
– Professional: if you offer professional services such as legal, tax or accounting advice, then you may choose to stick to this particular style.
– Absurd: This includes off-the-wall comments, that people really don’t expect. They can sometimes help build curiosity and motivate readers to want to know more.
– Intense: This style drills right to the central facts of a situation, and states exactly what is going on, regardless of how emotionally challenging it might be of the reader. The aim is to bring the issue right to the forefront of a prospect’s mind, so they are even more motivated to do something about it.
– Advocate: As an advocate, you’re fighting in the same corner as the reader of your ad, willing them to succeed. And the language of your ad should reflect this.
– Investigator: This is where you adopt the role of the “researcher”, so your ad would reflect this impartial, investigative approach.
When first creating and testing within Adwords, we recommend you test very different ideas based on the 5 “core drivers” listed above.
This all relates to the concepts of ‘Horizontal’ and ‘Vertical’ testing we have discussed elsewhere. (Just to recap: Horizontal Testing is when you test wildly different ideas. Vertical Testing is when you test basic variations of the same concept e.g. changing out just a word or phrase).
Get really creative in crafting a bunch of different ads to test, using the guidelines above. Test vastly different ads against each other. Then when you find a combination that works really well, starting testing individual words within those ads too, to improve your conversions even more.
Here’s a real quick look at the “7 Pillars of Effective Split Testing”. These are some powerful guidelines to help you split-test effectively in your business:
1. There Are No Rules – What works in one market might alienate people in another market. Even in the same market, we’ve seen it many times where something that worked with the “beginner” section of the market then failed with the “advanced” section of the market.
2. Test Wild Things – Too many times, internet marketers are playing the “copy-cat” game. They steal each other’s headlines and concepts and they make marginal improvements, if any. Ingrain this into your mind: BREAKTHROUGH RESULTS come from testing BREAKTHROUGH IDEAS. Try adapting and testing headlines from OTHER markets, and not just the market you’re operating in.
3. Go DEEP – It’s NOT the element (such as audio or video) that creates an improvement – it’s what you put into the element.
For example, I can’t tell you that audio works or doesn’t work to improve results. It all depends on WHAT I do with that audio. So, that’s why I always split test 3 things or more for each element.
Here’s what I mean by that:
Many people are tempted to ‘jump the gun’ after testing something like video or pictures and getting negative results. They’ll go to a forum and say, “Video doesn’t work” or “Pictures dropped response.” That’s inaccurate – what is really going on is: THAT specific video or THAT specific picture lowered conversion rates.
4. Think HARD Before You Do Anything – The key to great testing is putting in great ideas right at the beginning. If you are lazy with the elements that you are testing, then don’t expect to get great results. It really is that simple.
Set aside plenty of time each week to plan your split tests, so that you’re focusing on the factors that matter.
5. Analyze Your Results – Ask yourself “Why is this working?”, or “Why is this scaring them away?” There’s always a reason ‘why’, and it’s good to figure that out if you can.
6. Keep A Record Of ALL Your Testing Results – This data can be very valuable to you over the long haul. Document your tests. Review them over time.
7. Share Testing Data With Other Marketers – Don’t hide your split testing discoveries. Instead, share them with your mastermind of fellow marketers (especially if they’re in different markets to your own). You’ll be helping them out, and they will be more inclined to share their discoveries with you too.
In today’s hyper-wired world of satellites, and internet: speed is king. I once heard it said that 1 year on the internet is equal to 7 years offline. Nowadays, I think it’s more like 10 years or more.
And the harsh reality is that, as the online space evolves with increasing rapidity, what works well on your website today may not be very effective in a few months’ time.
That’s why we’ve developed a set of “Testing Results Protocols” in our businesses – to help speed up our split-tests and make improvements more quickly.
First of all, I couldn’t stand waiting for “statistical validity”. (In a minute, I’ll explain why I think that concept just slows down the growth of your business to a crawl. I’ll also give you quite a few advanced shortcuts you can use to help speed up your testing results too).
Plus, I’ll show you some new upgrades in our split-testing software that makes setting up these tests faster and quicker too.
But first let’s look at…
The 3 Levels of Testing Results
1. Donuts (zeros)
2. Incremental Improvements (also known as “whispers”)
3. Breakthroughs (also known as “screams”)
Let’s do some math together:
0 X 10 = zero
0 X 100 = zero
0 X 10,000 = zero
0 X a million = ZERO
In other words, you can’t multiply donuts (zeros)!
Here’s a rule of thumb: If you set up a sales letter test and 300 people have seen your letter and no one has bought – STOP THE TEST IMMEDIATELY.
Basically, it means that your sales letter is not working, and it’s time to move on. (Personally, I would even stop the test after 150 people saw the letter because I want to find a winner as quickly as possible.)
This is not the time to get despondent either. It’s actually great news. Because you want to find out what’s NOT working as quickly as possible. That way you can move on to the next test and find the next big breakthrough.
NOTE: There are exceptions to this rule… For example, when you’re selling expensive equipment, courses or packages. If you’re selling a $10,000 piece of construction equipment – then maybe a 0.3% conversion rate is acceptable.
However, if you’re selling anything below $100, as a general rule, don’t accept conversion rates below 0.3%.
Rule #2 is similar to rule #1. The bottom line is: you need to gather information and results quickly.
Why? Because you’re wasting time if you’re not aggressively looking for the ‘big breakthroughs’ in your business.
Let’s take some advice from the world’s greatest investor, Warren Buffet: Mr. Buffet makes investments based on ‘opportunity cost’. This means he doesn’t look at an opportunity and think “I can make 20% return if I invest 1 million dollars in that company.”
Instead, he looks at all of the other opportunities he’s “missing out on” by NOT investing the million dollars somewhere else.
And here’s how this applies to your split-testing strategy:
Scenario #1: The “normal” way
Let’s imagine you set up a split test. And the 2 factors are initially producing very similar results. They are “nose-to-nose”. But after 60 days you finally identify a clear winner that gives you a 10% improvement in your conversion rate. That’s not bad.
However: what did you LOSE by waiting so long for statistical validity to kick in?
Scenario #2: The “faster” way
You set up the same test as in ‘scenario 1’. However, you abandon the test after 1 week because it wasn’t a ‘breakthrough’ result – in other words, the results were too close and the test failed to produce a clear winner.
Next, you set up a new test, and you get a 25% improvement in your conversion rate after only 2 weeks. And then you set up another test and you get another 15% improvement after 2 weeks.
So with this strategy, you achieved a 40%+ improvement in 5 weeks, instead of the 10% in 8 weeks.
The point to get across here is this: by abandoning tests that are “nose-to-nose” quickly, you’ll find the ‘big breakthroughs’ faster.
This is a concept I stumbled upon by being impatient. Basically you want to look for big results fast.
The Big Breakthrough Formula:
You have a ‘Big Breakthrough’ when…
The Winner – Square root of the winner > the losing element
The big breakthrough formula is simple… You subtract the “square root of the winner” from “the winner”, and the number you’re left with should be BIGGER than “the loser”.
This will become a lot more clear in the example below. It sounds more complicated than it is…
Example of the Big Breakthrough Formula in action:
Let’s say you’re doing A-B split testing, and element “A” has 20 sales and “B” has 12 sales.
First, calculate the square root of “20” – which is 4.47. Now, simply plug-in the rest of the numbers:
20 (winner) – 4.47 (square root of 20) = 15.53
The next question is: Is 15.53 a bigger number than 12 (the number of sales of the “losing” element)?
In this case, the answer is ‘yes’, so we have a ‘big breakthrough’ result, and can move on to testing something else against this winning element.
Frankly, is this method perfect? Of course not. I would even say, by picking winners quickly – you’ll be wrong 10% of the time or so.
In the grand scheme of things, is this important though?
I’ll take SPEED over accuracy any day of the week. Even if I am wrong 20% of the time, the increase in my conversion rates will quickly make up for it.
The reality is, the results will self-correct over time as you test more variables. For example, let’s say I end a split test early and I was wrong about the winner… I’m going to set up a NEW test – and hopefully I’ll crush the “wrong winner”. And I’ll set up another test and beat the champ again… and again… and again…
To recap: focus on achieving BIG breakthroughs with your testing. Don’t be afraid to end a test early. You do NOT need 200 results to have a valid test. I think that’s just insane (especially on a sales letter).
There are 2 main phases to testing:
1. Horizontal Testing
2. Vertical Testing
Most marketers aren’t aware of the differences and mainly use vertical testing in their marketing.
So what’s the difference?
Vertical testing is when you go DEEPER with 1 idea. Here’s an example of a vertical test:
Version 1: The 3 Secrets to Great Titanium Clubs
Version 2: The 3 Factors to Great Titanium Clubs
Version 3: The 3 Elements to Great Titanium Clubs
So the core sentence is: The 3 _________ to Great Titanium Clubs.
The vertical element that you’re testing is: secrets vs. factors vs. elements.
On the other hand, horizontal testing is different.
Here’s an example of a horizontal test:
Version 1: How to Smash Balls 300 Yards
Version 2: What Every Golfer Should Know About Great Golf Clubs
Version 3: The 3 Elements to Great Titanium Clubs
So, here we’re testing totally different IDEAS (horizontal testing) versus different VARIATIONS of the same idea (vertical testing). The ideas that you’re testing are: “how to smash balls far” vs. “what golfers should know about clubs” vs “what makes great titanium clubs”. What you’re doing at this phase is looking for the “magic button”.
Now, let’s say that “What Every Golfer Should Know About Great Golf Clubs” is the winner… Then, you can start doing vertical testing around that winning headline. For example:
Version 1: What Every Golfer Should Know About Great Golf Clubs
Version 2: What You Should Know About Great Golf Clubs
Version 3: What Great Golfers Know About Great Golf Clubs
So in this vertical test you are testing: “what every golfer should know” vs. “what you should know” vs. “what great golfers know”.
Are you totally clear now about the difference between ‘Horizontal Testing’ and ‘Vertical Testing’? As a quick recap, Horizontal testing involves testing completely different ideas, while “Vertical Testing” involves testing different variations of the SAME idea.
So, the big question now is:
For the first 3 months to 6 months, 80% of your split testing testing should be horizontal. Why? Because you’re looking for the marketing building blocks that you’re going to build your business upon.
You’re searching for the “The Golden Idea” that works best in your market. And the fastest way to find “Golden Ideas” is to test a lot of different ideas.
Then, once you’ve found a great idea that’s converting well, it’s time to move on to Vertical Testing – testing every possible variation of that idea, to make it even stronger.
At this stage, you should reverse the testing ratio to 80% vertical testing and 20% horizontal. So you’re still testing new ideas (because there will always be a better idea somewhere). But you’re mainly focusing on running and refining the winning idea you already have.
99% of marketers think of Adwords as one of the best places to get traffic. And they’re mostly right.
However, in my opinion the ULTIMATE VALUE of Adwords is the speed and ease of its split testing power.
Quite simply, Google Adwords allows you to test lots of ideas and concepts in your market, so you can really understand what your target audience is looking for.
Here’s 2 analogies…
Imagine if I told you there was $100,000,000 buried “somewhere” on planet earth. Would you start investing your time, money and resources just digging “anywhere”?
Or would you first identify the exact location of the cash before beginning to dig?
You’d want to know the location, right?
It’s the same thing with oil companies. They do their research and FIND the oil patch before setting up the oil rig.
What’s funny is, most marketers invest hundreds of hours digging for the million dollar treasure without KNOWING if there’s any hope of striking gold. What I mean is, they create sales letters, order pages, dozens of autoresponder emails BEFORE knowing if their business idea is going to work.
Let me be the first to admit that I’ve been guilty of this in the past too. But I approach things differently now. Here’s how I create a new marketing process today…
What is organic marketing?
It’s the natural process of creating and adapting the sales process around what your market is telling you day by day. In other words, you listen to what your visitors, prospects and customers are telling you. Then you use that feedback to improve your sales process.
Again, it goes back to the attitude that “I don’t know anything. And I’m going to let the market tell me what they want” vs. the ego-centric attitude of “I know what they want, but really I’m taking some wild guesses and hoping it works.”
So, what I suggest is this: DON’T spend countless hours building what you think is the “perfect marketing process”. Instead, start with almost nothing: 1 or 2 autoresponder messages, a simple sales letter, and a basic opt-in page.
Then start testing in Google Adwords. Set up at least one new split test every single day. And use the results to attune your marketing and sales process with what your market is looking for.
Just so you know, Timothy Ferriss – the best selling author of the blockbuster “The 4 Hour Workweek” (which I highly recommend) – found his “magic button” book title through Adwords testing. He probably tested several different numbers: 4 hours vs. 10 hours vs. 20 hours vs. 40 hours, as well as other titles too.
And he let the results guide him on what to name his best-selling book. Now, imagine if he had done it the other way around. He could have written a book, given it a title that he thought was “hot”, spent $10,000 printing them and putting it out there, only to discover nobody resonated with the title. What an unnecessary waste of precious time and money.
Instead, follow his example, and use Adwords to help you find the hottest triggers, concepts, titles, and headlines for your target audience.
Time… resources… energy… are all very, very limited. That’s why you should be… focusing on the critical factors of profitability.
There’s one big problem that marketers have when split testing: there’s an almost infinite number of options to test and they don’t know where to start.
A ‘critical factor’ is the part of a system that has the most influence over the result. For example, if you cut the gas line in your car you won’t go very far. The gas line is a critical factor to that system.
Yes we’re talking about the Pareto Principle. Pareto is the man who figured out that 80% to 90% of the results come from 10% to 20% of what you do (That’s why they’re the critical factors). The critical 20% that influences 80% of the results.
And when it comes to your marketing, 80% of your time should be spent optimizing these 5 critical factors for converting prospects into customers, making sales and increasing profits:
1. Your ad (e.g. Google Adwords, banner, radio ad)
2. Your landing page (optin page, e-commerce site)
3. Your content (e.g. video, report, articles, auto-responder messages)
4. Your sales delivery (sales person, webpage, direct mail letter, video sales letter)
5. Your order device (online orderpage, operator, reply form)
Here’s another more “global” critical factor: WHAT you work on in your business.
I believe in my heart of hearts that SPLIT TESTING is DEFINITELY in the top 20%. I would even rank it #1 for an up-and-coming internet marketer.
There’s no better way to learn what REALLY works than split testing. At the same time that you’re split testing, you get the added benefit of a world class education in copywriting and marketing that’s specific to your market. It doesn’t get any better than that.
Furthermore, if you study copywriting teachers like John Carlton, and use his strategies and tactics, your marketing can just take off like wildfire.
So, my suggestion to you is this: do 1 hour of split-testing every single day that you work.
(NOTE: If you’re NOT getting a lot of traffic yet, then maybe you’ll only set up one test per week on your blog or one test per month on your sales letter, and then you can test more often as the traffic builds up).
For most of us, ‘good intentions’ are simply not enough. We might realize that ‘split testing’ is a good idea as we read an article or hear someone talk about it. But the busy-ness of our lives will typically take over, get in the way of our good intentions to test, and we’ll forget about it again.
Instead, we need to make split testing a top priority and a habit in our business. And asking ourselves the right questions each day is an excellent way to begin.
One of my favorite questions to ask is this:
“What could I test today that could give me the biggest pay raise?”
(Write this on a post-it note and attach it to your computer so you keep it “front-of-mind” and visible every single day that you work).
Then it’s simply a case of brainstorming your ideas, writing them down, prioritizing what you want to test first, and taking consistent action.
Many marketers make the mistake of looking at things in isolation. They only see the parts, and not the whole sales process.
As marketers, we see: ads, optin pages, sales letters, order pages and upsell pages. However, as a consumer, we only see 1 business experience.
Things simply don’t happen in isolation, including a sale. So, let’s take a look at the entire marketing pathway that prospects experience with an online business…
Here’s a typical process that could happen in the golf market:
1. Joe surfs on his favorite site.
2. He sees a banner and clicks on it.
3. He then clicks on a link that brings him to the main sales letter.
4. He then goes to the order page.
5. He orders or he abandons the process.
Now, that’s a SIMPLIFIED pathway. Most of the time, the pathway might have 20, 30 or even 50 steps. Especially, if you’re using email autoresponders.
And a good marketer understands the basic chain of events above.
(Here’s some advice if you’re just getting started: create a flow chart of your marketing process. Use paper, use a mindmap, use flowchart software, use a whiteboard – the point is JUST DO IT.)
One of the most powerful elements to look at to really understand marketing pathways is “promises and expectations”.
A “promise expectation” happens ANY TIME YOU SAY ANYTHING.
Re-read that because it’s an axiom of marketing and sales.
Let me put it to you another way. Each time you say something, people EXPECT what you said to happen or be delivered. It’s an unconscious process that is hardwired into every human mind.
Most marketers make big bold promises. However, they either make the wrong kind of promise or their sales process isn’t really aligned with the original promise. And here’ an important lesson:
As soon as someone breaks a promise, all trust evaporates faster than water dropped on a dusty desert.
Consciously or unconsciously, the promise-breaker is now branded as a ‘liar’ by the potential customer. And people don’t tend to buy from liars.
The “wrong promise” occurs when the promise isn’t a match with that specific prospect. For example: I’m promising that you’re going to improve your golf putting game on my ad, while the sales letter talks about improving your drive…
Trust also fades into the wind when your promise isn’t believable.
Making the right promise is NOT about hyperbole and exaggerations, it’s about matching the promise correctly with the core desires of your target prospects. This is the heart of what I call “harmonization”.
And more importantly — you must CONTINUE the pathway of trust throughout your marketing process too.
We’ll compare 2 different sales processes in just a moment, so you can clearly see what you shouldn’t do… and what you should do as well.
The reality is, that almost every marketing process FAILS because of either:
1. Ineffective promises and claims that don’t resonate with that prospect
2. Incongruencies in the marketing process
And we’re going to look at how to solve BOTH of these problems.
First, let me illustrate an example of a BAD marketing process that fails, using the golfing example we mentioned earlier.
1. Uncle Joe surfs on his favorite golf site and is reading an article about golf vacations in Scotland.
2. He sees a banner about a new golf club and clicks on it.
3. He goes to the new golf club site and asks for a report that talks about “How to Improve Your Golf Game”.
4. He reads the report and gets a few tips.
5. He then clicks on a link that brings him to the main sales letter to sell him golf clubs.
6. He then goes to the order page to check out the price.
7. He abandons the process because he wasn’t looking for golf clubs in the first place.. or… the incongruency “threw him off”.
Let’s compare that to what I would consider is a “winning marketing process” using the same golf club example.
1. Mr. Gronkbee surfs on his favorite golf site and he’s reading an article on “hitting longer drives”.
2. He sees a banner about a new golf club that guarantees to add “50 yards to his drive” and clicks on it.
3. He goes to the new golf club site and asks for a report that explains “The science of 300 yard drives”.
4. He reads the report and he gets excited about the science behind the new cutting-edge material that delivers longer drives.
5. He then clicks on a link that brings him to the main sales letter. He reads a ton of great testimonials from golfers who say it’s added a 50 yards or more to their drives.
6. He then goes to the order page and he places his order. He gets the product and uses it. And he’s smashing balls further than ever before. He become an evangelist for those clubs and the company that sell them.
Expectations begin as soon as someone reads your first ad that’s designed to get them to click. And you need to DELIVER on those expectations throughout every marketing pathway you create.
So take the time to “harmonize” your sales process – from the ad right through to the sales page, order page, and the product or service you offer.
It’s simple really. By giving potential customers what they want, you’ll develop a marketing funnel that works.
Very few “experts” will ever admit that their suggestions are simply their BEST GUESSES.
I’m almost willing to bet that if you go to 100 big Madison avenue advertising agencies, not one will ever say:
“You know what Mr. Jones… We’ve got what we think is a great idea. But the real truth is… We have no clue if this is going to work or not. So let’s test it and find out.”
Now don’t get me wrong. Many expert opinions are very valuable and have tremendous impact.
But the reality is, no one “knows” anything until it’s actually tested and the market votes with their wallets and credit cards.
Markets and people’s behaviors are changing faster than ever now, thanks to the web. And yet, at the same time, the internet and technology has allowed a new breed of business builders to emerge who understand this key principle.
I call them “Extreme Optimizers”.
These are the people that apply the same techniques and processes that my team and I use to optimize our own business and other businesses’ marketing.
In our optimization company, one of our core values is: “Testing ends all arguments”.
That’s because split-testing crushes opinions and theories and replaces them with market-driven realities. So instead of guesswork, you have real-world results to guide your decision making.
And the best mindset to have as you test is a simple, curiosity-driven “Don’t Know” attitude. You say to yourself: “I’m going to try this and see what happens.” And as they say: “The numbers don’t lie.”
Too many marketers let their opinions blind them. They think they “know what works” because they’ve been “writing sales letters for years” or they’ve been “running their business for years”.
But a more effective, and arguably more profitable, attitude to have is, “I don’t know anything – I’m just going to let the market tell me what works and what doesn’t.”
And when you get deep into testing, you’ll discover that 80% of the ideas that you were sure were “great” don’t work… while the crazy ideas, that you never thought would work, end up boosting your conversion rates.
After a while, you quickly start realizing that you don’t know much. AND THAT’S A HUGE BREAKTHROUGH… because then you’ll let your market, prospects and clients TELL you what works and what doesn’t instead.
It’s a critical and important paradigm shift that can make all the difference to your results.
What’s your experience with split testing? Let us know in the comments below.