Thursday, April 05, 2007

Feedback In The Here & Now

"There is no failure. Only feedback."
~Robert Allen
I had the pleasure of working with Bill Bonner for the past 7 years and one of the things that stuck with me was this repeated phrase,

" Fail... and fail quickly."

It's all about testing... do it often, and learn from it before you lose too much money!

I know to some it sounds nuts, but think about it. We learn from mistakes... we learn by trying something new. The only way to improve is to keep getting up after failing down. AND if you have a success, incorporate it... and test something else.

In the online publishing world this creates super copy, amazing promotions and a multi million dollar business. Bonner's Agora Publishing is on the cutting edge of Internet marketing because they have applied this direct mail principle to the web. I should know. ;-)

The basic form of testing is the A/B test, where you test two versions of a package, changing one thing at a time, to see which version creates more response. Direct marketers use small test mailings to decide between version A and version B before they mail the winner to the whole list.

Now let's be honest... testing one thing at a time takes time. But that is how you know where the increased sales came from. It's that one thing you changed in version B. If you changed more than one variable - how would you know what made the difference?

I preach this type of testing.

But there is another kind of testing which I love even more... multivariate testing.

It's the brainchild of Japanese engineer Genichi Taguchi who showed how you can test several marketing variables at the same time by carefully selecting different combinations so that the total test reveals which version of each variable will give the best results.

In other words, you can test four versions of your headline and four versions of order copy or image on your landing page, using different combinations of each so that you can test all 16 combinations at the same time.

Much faster results then an A/B split test, eh?

The software available to do this today is very expensive but will allow you to test hundreds - no thousands - of combinations in days!

I would often say "So many tests but so little time..." but with multivariate testing you don't need time. You have the present... the here and now. The challenge is to come up with every conceivable landing page variable to test, and the software will give you the control combination.

That is if your company could afford it... until now.

Yes... we all, as of today, have access to the here and now.

Stay turned...