Here’s an exercise for you to try at your next meeting with the creative team:
- In every planning meeting and brainstorm write down all of the questions that come up regarding things like how the audience will respond, decision points around UX or content, what message is strongest, etc. Keep these in a running list.
- Next time you look at your editorial calendar, sit down with the content owners and go through the list of questions. Take a look at each question, and match it to a piece of content.
- Add a column in your email in your editorial calendar for the answer to the question
Voila – you have an AB testing plan. Sounds simple, but it really is. And by using questions that you’ve actually come up with, you’re not forcing tests, just because you need things to test.
I tried with a project team last week and it greatly improved our discussions around what we were going to learn from each piece of content. The tests themselves are really easy for email, marketing automation, search advertising, banner advertising, SMS, push messages and social, but with some work it can be applied to the web as well.
Some tips for content testing:
- In email, focus on learning what you can from the subject line. The subject line is going to give you the largest reach and works great for broad tests.
- Test social messages regularly. Try different images, different tones and different times of day. Capture the results. A lot of people are already using a lot of variations on social, but aren’t capturing the data and therefore not learning anything applicable.
- Keep a running reference of test results. Use the results to make decisions about the same content on other media.
- Search engine advertising is a really inexpensive, low effort way to test messages and calls to action.
With every piece of outbound content, set a learning goal. Some quantitative methodology gurus may disagree, but learning something with a fair amount of certainty is better than learning nothing with absolute certainty.