"Test everything" has become a popular mantra in the marketing world, with marketers everywhere—but perhaps particularly those working in the SaaS sector— encouraged to test absolutely every element of their marketing campaigns, right down to something as small as the shape and size of their call-to-action buttons.
While there’s no doubt that making small changes can lead to incremental improvements in the overall performance of your marketing campaigns, it’s unlikely that the “spray and pray” approach to testing every minor detail will make a significant impact on the campaign’s performance—or the business’s bottom line.
“I think it’s quite easy just to test for testing’s sake,” says Sophia Firth, Marketing Manager at Rungway, an employee listening platform that provides a safe space for leaders and employees to engage in open and honest conversation, used by companies as diverse as UBS to Mitie.
While Sophia acknowledges she’s been down that route before, conducting A/B tests on extremely granular elements, she also notes that, more often than not, “you're not necessarily learning a lot from those kinds of tests.” She still thinks testing has its place, but that marketers should focus on testing elements of their campaigns that will actually move the needle.
Why testing your marketing message matters
Messaging is one of the most worthwhile avenues for testing, thinks Sophia. Since she joined Rungway a year ago, the company has been focused on refining its positioning and firming up its ideal customer profile (ICP), and experimenting with messaging that strikes a chord with C-Suite decision-makers across a range of sectors.
“A challenge for us has always been how we explain Rungway in a succinct way that's going to resonate with the buyer because the platform does so many different things and you can position it in many different ways,” she says. “That was something that we really needed to clarify as a team. We've gotten really clear on that and that's been a big win. So now it’s about being really focused on trying to talk to those people who fit our ICP, and trying to understand what messages are going to cut through.”
Sophia’s currently taking a sector-by-sector approach to try and pin down which messaging works. “I've just launched a new campaign and, to keep it super focused, we're starting with one sector and the idea is we'll take learnings from that and then move to a different sector and see how they compare,” says Sophia.
“I've got a very clear four-week testing period, that includes the message that we're going out with, and also the way we’re approaching the campaign. We’re taking a multi-directional approach, using marketing, using sales, using account-based marketing, and leveraging our existing networks.”
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Crucially, says Sophia, they’re testing this campaign on a very small audience. “With a small group, we’ll be better able to understand what’s worked, rather than trying to hit loads of people with one email workflow.”
Plus, she thinks this approach allows for improved personalization. “Personalization is a big one and it’s something I’m still trying to figure out how to do really well,” says Sophia. “But I do think by focusing in on a narrow slice of your audience, you are able to get more bespoke with your messaging.”
How does Sophia measure the success of her tests? She says it’s not always as straightforward as opportunities created or MRR. “You're not necessarily going to get a huge engagement with an email to a group of people that don't really know who you are,” she says.
“Sometimes you do need to look at those lead indicators—for example, open rates, click-through rates—how have they changed over time, which messages resonated with your audience. Even LinkedIn posts that have done really well can be a good indicator.”
Another benefit of testing on small groups, notes Sophia, is you can start to look at the results in much more detail. “For instance, you can notice more easily if there's a person opening more than one email. Then you have more bandwidth to think about what the next move is for that person to engage them further. It could be inviting them to an event, or a 1:1 lunch and learn. When you're aiming for big wins, keep your audience smaller so you can have a much more tailored approach for different people and accounts.”
Get clear on your objectives before you start
Sophia’s advice for marketers who want to do more testing is to get clear on their objectives first. “You've really got to know what you're trying to test, so be clear on what your hypothesis is; be clear on what you're expecting the outcome to be and what you're going to learn from the test,” she says.
“Go into your test with a really focused, targeted approach, and make sure you do it thoroughly. “