A/B Testing Your Content Marketing Strategy
If you make (or want to make) your income online, you probably already recognize that your content marketing strategy plays an important role in your success…
But, did you realize that content (or information) is becoming more important than ever?
It’s true because potential customers are seeking more and more information before making their buying decisions.
Just look at this statistic from the Content Marketing Institute (or CMI, for short).
This means companies are realizing the need for quality content. (Which is great news if you’re a content creator!)
But what’s their main goal in producing more content?
Answer: Increasing their website traffic.
In fact, a staggering 62% of participants in CMI’s study confirmed their main goal was increasing website traffic:
So why is a content strategy so important to good traffic?
Because quality content attracts quality traffic! (Quality traffic is made of readers and website viewers who are seeking out what you have to offer and are willing to pay for it.)
But, how can we make sure we’re writing quality content? And, perhaps more importantly, how can we be sure we’re writing content that attracts our ideal website visitors (those who purchase)?
The answer is testing!
When you test your content, your readers will tell you what they like by sharing, responding, and taking action. The content that gets the best results will give you insights to the type of content you should write and share in the future.
So, let’s talk about how you can test your content marketing strategy…
Before Testing, Prepare
Hopefully you understand your target market. You know what their problems are, how you help them solve those problems, and other factors—like their age, income, location, and more.
If you have a current content marketing strategy, it’s likely based on the information you’ve gathered on your target market.
But, how can you be sure you’re focusing on what they’re most interested in?
By testing these four elements.
4 Elements to Test in Your Content Marketing Strategy
If you properly researched your target market, your business is likely doing well. Maybe you’re getting shares, retweets, visitors, leads, and buyers.
Of course, there’s almost always room for improvement–especially when it comes to your content marketing strategy. If you improve your content, you’ll improve your results. And, that’s where testing comes in.
First up, try testing your headlines (including those on your blog posts).
As you likely know, headlines are important! They can attract attention and pull your ideal customers to you. Or they can sit silently as your customers pass by without a single glance. Some headlines can even repel your ideal clients.
So, how can you know what works?
The answer is to test. And, not just on your landing pages, sales pages, and product pages, but on your blog posts too.
Well, when you’re relying on your content marketing strategy to bring you business, you want to get the most out of it.
Think about it this way: If you can write a headline that attracts four times more traffic, wouldn’t it be worth the few extra minutes to write and test it?
Modern technology (like social media and WordPress) eliminates almost all excuses for not testing because it’s now very easy to set up and test your headlines.
For example, Buffer runs tests on their headlines by picking 2-3 variations for each blog post. They then use each one in a tweet and wait for the results …
The headline that gets the best results is the winner and the final headline for the blog post.
Here’s an example of Buffer’s A/B headline testing:
As you can see, their headlines are very similar.
Don’t worry about coming up with something out of this world—just write a different version of your original headline. You could even try flipping some words around or pulling out a thesaurus.
One resource that will really get you thinking is the TweakYourBiz.com Title Generator. Simply enter a topic and the title generator will spit out hundreds of suggestions.
Here are the results from typing “research behind headlines” (from the Buffer tweet above).
Once you have a few different headlines, set up your test and wait for the results.
Remember, you can do it through social media like Buffer. Or if your website uses WordPress, testing your headlines is even easier because there are plugins specifically built for A/B testing headlines on blog posts. Title Experiments Free is just one option.
Images are part of your content marketing strategy and they’re very important. They’re “worth a thousand words” after all.
So, why not make the most of images by making sure you’re using ones that attract and appeal to your ideal customers?
A few ideas for testing your images are:
- Test a completely different image. For instance, if your current image is a person typing on their computer, try an image without a person.
- Try a graphic instead of an image.
- Test a similar image. For example, if your image is a man on the beach, why not test an image with a woman on the beach?
As you can see, there are a lot of options when it comes to testing your images.
Another thing you could test is the placement of images on your blog post. Some believe aligning your images to the left of your content makes the images more prominent. They say this attracts more attention to the content.
Others argue the images should be aligned to the right so the reader can immediately get into the content and not be distracted by the image.
We could have a debate about it, but the best option is to test it. A test will prove which option is best for your business, website, and audience.
Here’s an example test from WhichTestWon. In this test McClatchy Interactive (an online newspaper) created two versions of their Web page:
In Version A, the images are aligned on the left. Version B puts them to the right of the content.
Which test won?
Version B did. It increased clicks by over 20%, site traffic by nearly 10%, and even increased the time visitors spent on the site!
Consider this: What will the same test do for your business?
3. Opt-in form
Your opt-in form (also known as a “signup form”) is another important part of your content marketing strategy, for several reasons:
- The offer in your opt-in form can give your website visitors a quick idea of your overall focus—and draw them in or scare them away.
- Building a list gives you another way to distribute new post blogs (which jump starts the reach of new content).
- When you’re trying to decide what to test, a survey sent to your list can be eye opening.
Plus, a bonus of testing your opt-in form is that, when you improve it, you increase the leads coming into your business. Double win!
Let’s look at the results from a test Hyundai ran on their signup form:
In one version, Hyundai added some social proof. They told their visitors how many people had requested test-drives during the week.
But… this social proof might not always work…
For instance, here’s a test where adding social proof produced opposite results:
A large majority of marketers thought “Version A” would win the test. But in reality, “Version B” produced a 122% increase in signups.
I can only guess, but maybe the ideal prospect isn’t persuaded by social proof. In that case, the extra text only added a distraction from the goal.
This example shows why testing your own website and content marketing strategy is so important. What works for one company–like adding social proof–may not work for another.
Before running this test, consider:
- What type of social proof do you have?
- Does it help prove that the reader should complete the desired action?
- What type of social proof does your ideal customer respond to?
4. Call To Action
A call to action is something we hear a lot about when it comes to sales copy. But, I believe every piece of content–even your blog posts–should include a call to action. Assuming the goal of your content marketing strategy is to spark action in your reader…
Just in case you’re not familiar, a call to action is a phrase that recommends your readers’ next action…
Do you want your reader to comment, visit another page, share what they just read, or something else?
Testing this element of your website is a great way to find a call to action that moves you closer to your goals as a business owner.
Why end your posts with “contact me…” if your real goal is for your content to go viral?
On the other hand, why ask your reader to share your content if your goal is getting them to contact you for a consultation?
Keep in mind, your call to action could be a button or a linked line of text. It could be a repeat of your core offer or a prompt to read a related article. You can even use different calls to action (and test them) across your site and in social media posts.
For instance, if your reader has just completed an article about the importance of regular oil changes, your call to action could be something like, “Go here to download your oil change coupon.”
Here’s just one example where the call to action was tested:
All they did was change the words on the button. They went from “Get your membership” to “Find your gym & get membership.”
If you’re having a hard time coming up with your own calls to action to test, check out this article, “15 Call to Actions for Blog Posts that Convert.”
There you have it: four things you should test as part of your content marketing strategy.