Email pros are always trying to convince you that split testing (or A/B testing) is exciting, and results in eye-popping revelations about customer behavior, if not actual increases in clicks. While that may be true for companies with large lists, when you scale it down to a small business, split testing within a smaller list (say less than 1000 email addresses) is not nearly as satisfying to analyze. The resulting A/B data often doesn’t lean in any one deciding direction because the test pool is much smaller.
However there are easy ways for the small business to apply split testing to a small list and learn from its results.
If you’ve never used the split test feature in your email service for a campaign, you really should try it. Here are some ideas to get you started:
The first thing you could do is divide your list into the top two most obvious segments. Use whichever parameters that stand out for you. For example, you could choose only the people who opened any email over the past 3 months, a distinct and easily created segment. Or the email addresses belonging to repeat customers; or those who have used your services for two years; or who signed up in person.
The point is to just pick one important group from the master list. Opens and clicks are the most obvious because your email software will probably present this data in a simple format.
You could also choose some other unique characteristic specific to your business. Handiness with an excel file goes a long way for email split testing applications. If you are just starting a new email service, you can import many data fields and further parse your list with each successive campaign you send. In any case, use whatever you have.
Next, focus on clarifying an element of your business from a consumer or B2B point of view. A small business owner needs to do some intuitive work here, especially if a) you are new to online marketing, b) you have just started your business within the past few years, or c) your team is limited to the same five people you work closely with every day. A smaller company, while quick on its feet compared to a large company; may see their markets from a somewhat narrow point of view.
In the world of small business, a lot of “market research” may be directly tied to an individual you met at a conference, spoke to on the phone, or actually did business with yourself. So when you think of testing your market, what comes to mind? Probably the face of a particular customer or an illuminating discussion you had with a local competitor — NOT a report you read from your marketing department about last quarter’s sales funnel.
But that’s the beauty of small business.
That dearth of mass amounts of faceless data — which big business would see as a liability –allows you to be flexible and intuitive with your communication. After all, you built your business on personal risk and personal resources; you have distinct memories of successes and failures. You naturally have a more personal relationship with your customers and employees than you could within any large company. Use that experience in your marketing; in other words, “Trust your gut.”
For inspiration, check out these case studies if you want to see actual split test pictures and results. The next blog post will cover the next two steps: creating the test and analyzing the results.
Written by Jen McGahan