Once upon a time, only major corporations and Fortune 500 companies took the time to test their advertising. But as small business owners become more savvy-and the cost of advertising continues to rise-testing the effectiveness of ads, whether in print or on the web, is one of those marketing strategies that just makes sense.
First of all, you’ll want to determine exactly where you want to spend your hard-earned cash. Think about your target market-i.e., the people with the highest likelihood of being interested in the products or services you’re offering. What publications are they reading? What websites are they visiting? Depending on how targeted your market is, trade publications may be an inexpensive option in terms of print advertising, while numerous high-traffic websites are oriented around a specific profession and/or interest that may place its visitors within your target market.
Next, you’ll need to design your ads. Whether you work with a graphic designer or have the skills and know-how to do it yourself, creating a range of possible designs is key-because once you have them, you can use them to solicit high-quality input from your friends, colleagues, and employees.
Once you have 5-7 designs in hand, you’ll want to get them in front of as many people as possible. Have individuals pick out their top three designs, then hand them a red marker-to mark the things they don’t like, on each of those three ads-and a green marker-to mark the things they do.
Once you’ve used this info to select the 2 or 3 most popular designs (and strengthen them, by addressing the negatives) it’s time to submit your ads to the websites/publications you’ve chosen.
Here’s the key, though: always advertise in more than one (roughly equivalent) publication or website, and make sure to include a different contact .url and/or phone number on each ad. (This could simply be a different page off your main website-or, in the case of a phone contact, a number that routes to your main number with a different ring, a service that can be provided by your local phone company.)
That way, you’ll actually be able to track the number of impressions you’ve created with each ad, and the number of actual sales each ad has generated.
Once you’ve let these ads run for a while-three months is generally considered a minimum amount of time for an effective run-you can compile the results you’ve received from each ad. If one ad has generated at least 5% more impressions/sales than either of the other two, you’ve got a clear indication that it’s more effective in terms of design and appeal.
You may want to continue advertising in one of the publications/websites that produced lesser results for you-but switch your ad design to the one that produced a higher return, in order to make sure you’re getting the most out of your advertising budget.
Testing your advertising is a great way to get a handle on which marketing strategies have the most pull within your target market.
So go ahead-create some great, dynamite advertising, and watch those sales roll in.