The Importance of Split Testing to the Internet Marketer

You’ll find no end of mentors telling you, especially when you get to the intermediate to advanced stages, that split testing everything you do, is vital. But what is it and more importantly, how can you carry it out?

The first thing you need though is a definition of split testing, which is: Comparing the effectiveness of two or more methods of communication with respect to your visitors. In other words, which email gets more click throughs, which squeeze page gets more sign ups, which sales page makes more sales? Which immediately leads to the next question – How to set it all up? The answers are actually, remarkably easy.

In GetResponse, the autoresponder that I use, there is an A/B select which allows you to send two different emails at the same time, equally to half of your list. Even if your autoresponder doesn’t have this convenient feature, it would not be difficult to send one email to half your list and a different one to the other half.

How different should these emails be? Very slightly, perhaps no more than the subject line. This is the first thing about your email that gets seen and therefore has the biggest impact. The statistics of your autoresponder will tell you how many emails get opened (open-rate) and how many links get clicked through (click through rate). By using Google Analytics or a similar tools, you will be able to tell where your visitors came from. If you change the click-through link in the email, perhaps by leaving the www. off one of the addresses (there is a difference between domain-name.com and www.domain-name.com), you will be able to tell which email sent the most visitors.

There are methods for deeper checking of the effectiveness of emails but by the time you’re ready to know about them and use them, somebody will be there to introduce them to you. They are subtle, deep and require a bit more time and knowledge to be able to make full use of them.

When it comes to split testing pages, whether squeeze or sales pages, we need to go back to a friend from the early days of page advertising on the web. The link rotator.

Originally used to allow a web page owner to rotate between different advertisers on the same page, link rotators now allow a web site owner to show different pages to successive visitors. Link rotators can be a script that is run from your own website or web based in their own right. The advantage with using an externally hosted rotator is the statistical analysis packages that often come with them, although if you self host the script, some basic analytics are often provided too or you can use the ones that are built into most CPanel installations.

Again the difference between pages should be minimal and after a couple of hundred visitors you will probably find that one page or the other starts to show a definite lead in visitor effectiveness. Discard the losing page and create a new copy of the leader, making another small change. In this way, over the course of a couple of thousand visitors, you will have a page that is converting at a far more satisfactory rate than the original – unless you got it exactly right first time, of course!

What to change on a page? Start with headlines – same headlines in different colours, slightly reworded headline, introductory text, even the greeting. Whatever you change, just make it one small thing. You might be surprised at what has the most effect. A headline in red instead of blue. 20 point font size instead of 24 or a green ‘submit’ button instead of yellow. A submit button that says ‘Free Report’ instead of ‘Sign Up Here’ – these are all things that could make a difference to how many people click through. Just discard the less successful ideas and keep the good ones, using them as the starting point for your next variation or campaign.

Until you get a feel for what your subscribers and customers want, split testing can take a great deal of your time and effort. You don’t want to sit and hatch each visitor as they come through, but assuming you have plenty of them, you will soon be able to spot what is working, or more importantly, not working, for your pages. And bear this in mind… If you have 3 stages of products to your sales funnels then doubling the number of successful click throughs at all three stages could mean 8 times more sales of the final product for little extra work than improving how many make it through.