Slapped In The Face By Data

Words matter- and where they are on your page can make a significant difference on how people respond to your campaign to kick your life up a notch.

I show this image to my students and clients when we discuss reinvention strategies. I urge them to create a professional site to use in marketing and presenting themselves to the job market.

Then we discuss colors:

What words work best? Which links get clicked more? Is your picture correct?

We solve these issues by doing something called A/B  testing.  It’s been around for a long time, but seems to be coming into its own as a Silicon Valley “best practice”.

Here’s a simple example (source-Wikipedia) of how it works.

A company with a customer database of 2000 people decides to create an email campaign with a discount code in order to generate sales through its website. It creates an email and then modifies the Call To Action (the part of the copy which encourages customers to do something — in the case of a sales campaign, make a purchase).

  • To 1000 people it sends the email with the Call To Action stating “Offer ends this Saturday! Use code A1”,
  • and to another 1000 people it sends the email with the Call To Action stating “Limited time offer! Use code B1”.

All other elements of the email’s copy and layout are identical. The company then monitors which campaign has the highest success rate by analyzing the use of the promotional codes.

The email using the code A1 has a 5% response rate (50 of the 1000 people emailed used the code to buy a product), and the email using the code B1 has a 3% response rate (30 of the recipients used the code to buy a product).

The company therefore determines that in this instance, the first Call To Action is more effective and will use it in future sales.

Many companies use services like Optimizely to check the performance of their sites.  I like them. For as little at 17 bucks a month, they’ll help you polish your personal/professional/company image.

The software takes you on a tour of your  site and allows you to make tweaks.

Think of the gazillions of dollars enterprises spend on logo design, color gradients and fonts. There are careers riding on the choices of shades of red!

The stakes are high.

A/B testing involves testing several different versions of  a site with live traffic and then measuring the effect each version has on conversion rates.

After months of  chronic procrastination , I have re-committed to finishing my book  during semester break.

I will do A/B testing when we market the book. What makes people click to learn more? What words are better than others to generate interest (and sales!)?

Here’s some great knowledge on the words that matter most from Brian Christian in Wired:

Many of our most important letters, remarks, decisions, and questions are meant for an audience of one—a population size that admits no sampling.

Where it counts the most—in family, in friendship, in love—we are operating by instinct, no A’s, no B’s, flying blind.

Choose carefully.

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