Somewhere Between Analytics and AB Testing is Learning

Analytics measures success. AB testing drives optimization. But somewhere between these two activities is the oft ignored learning.

Structured learning is how you figure out what motivates your audience, what resonates with your audience and how they are likely to behave to different stimuli.  If done right, AB testing will get you this, but learning programs for marketing don’t always need to be as structured or formalized as AB test and it doesn’t require any special software. And to be honest, AB testing is often so automated that you’re not learning why one way performs better than the other, your just optimizing for the moment.

A good learning plan starts with an editorial calendar. In addition to managing the content of the program through the calendar, each activity includes a “test” designed to help you learn something about the audience.   The test can be A/B if you can do real-time A/B testing, but it can also compare variables over time, though the results might be as statistically significant, they are still valuable.

The most important aspect is to build out the plan to address what you hope to learn. Then pick one variable for each piece of content you push out and include that variable in your content.

Some things to test for:

  • Tone of content – does the audience respond to humor or a more authoritative voice. Do they prefer witty and clever, or straight to the point.
  • Do they prefer original content or 3rd party experts?
  • How much imagery do they want? What style do they like?
  • Should content reflect environmental trends like holidays or pop-culture?
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