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Putting Your Ideas And Your Customers To The Test

 
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auditorium, testing

“Trust Your Gut” – whether you’re adding a new service offering or building a new mobile app, as a small business owner it’s easy to rely on intuition to make decisions.

But unless you happen to possess psychic powers, there’s a pretty good chance intuition won’t be the best predictor of the future. If you want to create delightful products and services for your customers, you’ve got to put them to the test.

Frequently used by content marketers and web developers to optimize landing pages, A/B testing can also be an incredibly effective tool for collecting feedback from your small business customers.

By establishing a baseline control sample and comparing it to different single-variable test samples, you can test and tweak your ideas before, during, and after they go to market. 

When you strip away all of the statistical mumbo jumbo, what you’re really doing is testing different versions to see which ones resonate best with your customers given your specific business goals.

Instead of taking a shot in the dark and making decisions based on what you think they’ll like, you can go straight to the source.

Do they react to a call to action such as “Start a Free Trial” better than “Request a Demo”? Would they prefer that you provide an online tutorial about your latest product? Would they like the process to take 10 steps or two steps?

Using the A/B framework, you’re able to test different versions with different customer segments. That way, you’re able to differentiate between new customers and those with whom you’ve already done business. For example, you could test five different options to see which ones are working better or worse and use that insight to make adjustments much quicker than if you were to rely on solely on your gut instinct.

“People are looking for much more personalized experiences right out of the gate” says Hugh Reynolds, CEO of Swrve—a San Francisco-based startup that creates tools to help non-programmers design and deploy A/B tests. “Businesses need to have their fingers on the pulse of their users much quicker and that means they’re ideas and products have to be tested.”

And although the bulk of A/B testing will typically occur before you go live, that doesn’t mean you’re finished once you flip the switch—that’s actually when you’re most likely to get the best data.

You’re able to see real users and identify real patterns that are statistically significant (and who said that statistics class wasn’t going to come in handy?) and hone your offering accordingly.

How could small business use A/B testing to delight their customers?

Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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[Image: Flickr user Djun Kim]



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Shawn Graham

Over 10+ years as a marketing consultant, Fast Company blogger, and university director, Shawn has worked, interviewed, and partnered with hundreds of CEOs, entrepreneurs, and senior executives from innovative and highly successful businesses. Continue reading






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