by Jonathan Gebauer (@jogebauer)
Very often I make assumptions:
- This product is of interest to that audience
- This message will convert
- This message will lead to sharing
- This action will lead to this reaction
More often then not these can be tested before being implemented in a wider context.
The importance of testing marketing assumptions
Yesterday I published a massive post about Lean Marketing. It was a massive post.
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Yet the single most important part of lean marketing is that you need to generate data for every single assumption you make. It allows you to review your actions. It allows for improving your marketing on the fly. It leads to improved and new assumptions.
It allows you to improve your marketing plan step by step and dataset by dataset.
A method I use for testing often
More often then not, I find that my assumption can be translated into a landing page on the web. There are a few things you need to keep in mind though.
- Your landing page needs to lead to an action. Actions can be social shares, newsletter signups or participation in a survey, or even a sale. Landing pages should never be without a call to action – because without it you cannot measure.
- Design your page to lead to exactly the action you want to achieve. Optimize for conversion, meaning the action you want them to take.
- You need to keep in mind that landing pages themselves can be bad and convert badly. So when your first attempt fails – spend some time on optimization before you give up.
- Examine only a minimum of factors for landing pages. For instance: traffic source, percentage of traffic that converts and time on site.
- Generate traffic – without traffic you can measure all you want, the results will be meaningless.
I will talk about traffic generation later on, but first here is what I use for quick landing page creation.
Quickly create beautiful landing pages: Strikingly
First: I love Strikingly, not just for testing landing pages, but simply for it making website creation so fast. Non-dynamic websites only though, you will not build a blog with it. You can however do that with wordpress or tumblr on a subdomain.
But that is not what this is about. This is about testing marketing assumptions with a landing page.
Whenever I make an assumption, I try to get to the essence of it. And the essence is:
- What am I trying to market? (Product)
- Who am I trying to market it to? (Audience)
- How am I telling them to take action (Message)
99% of marketing assumptions can be translated into these three components. Product and Message are the most important components for the current step: Creating a landing page.
Strikingly is a simple Drag&Drop website creation tool. After you sign up you get the option to choose from a number of templates. After you have your template selected you can then choose from a number of building blocks – beautifully designed pieces in the puzzle that allow you to build your page block by block, while you fill them with your content.
Strikingly only allows for one page designs, with the content blocks below each other. While this may seem limiting at first, it is perfect for what we are doing right now, building a landing page. This is how many landing pages are built for a reason: The user doesn’t get lost and you can always lead him to the point where he hopefully takes action.
Also, every template on Strikingly makes sure you create a mobile ready, responsive site. You can also integrate some sharing buttons and there are a number of connected apps – for instance the survey tool wufoo.
So here is what you need to do for a landing page:
- Describe your product (keep it short)
- Develop your message
- Add some bling to the page (see below)
You should add some shiny aspects to your landing page: For instance, describe the people behind the project, their successes etc. Add some images, social buttons, etc.
The point is to appear professional.
Once you’ve done that you have a landing page and you can achieve all of this in under 2 hours (often in under 1 hour). Strikingly makes sure you don’t get lost in design aspects.
Also make sure that you plug Google Analytics into your test page. You need the traffic data.
Now you have your page – it is time for traffic generation.
Some ways of getting enough traffic for the test
As said above, you do need some test traffic, or all will be for nothing.
Depending on your budget, you can buy targeted traffic from ads. Google Adwords is a good place to start, Facebook ads also work well in this context. Both allow you to get targeted traffic. Depending on the situation you can choose one or the other.
If you already have a social media audience, you can get the traffic from your fanpages and Twitter accounts, but you need to keep in mind that you need targeted traffic. If your Fanpage is targeted at dog owners and you need people interested in sports cars, that doesn’t help you. But very often you can try this approach – as it is very likely that you are testing in an area where you already are working in.
One thing to keep in mind is that for valid tests you need new visitors and not people already familiar with the product. People familiar with it are already biased and the test data is damaged at best and completely invalid in the worst case.
Get ready for results
Most of the time, the data you need is the amount of people visiting the site vs the amount of people taking action. As of now, don’t try to make them enter a complicated sales funnel. A simple action will do.
I find this to be a really quick method for the kind of quick and dirty testing activity that I do often.
When you get into optimizing sales funnels, landing pages for complicated products, etc. there might be better tools. For quick and easy first results this one works like a charm.
Strikingly offer a free version that allows you to have one page on a subdomain of their site. For more you have to sign up for one of their paid accounts starting at $8/month. It is well worth it. For an example site, you can visit our main page: http://thesocialms.com