Via: posted by Howie Jacobson, March 7, 2012, at searchenginewatch.com
PPC advertisers face two common problems when they try to tackle split testing: no ideas, or too many ideas.
If you have no ideas about what to split test, that’s a sure sign that you’ve been spending too much time in your AdWords account. Log out, browse a magazine rack, check out your competitor’s websites, watch a movie, or get some exercise. Shake off the mental cobwebs and look for serendipity and inspiration.
If you have too many ideas, however, you can be too overwhelmed to run any tests. Or you may discover yourself testing an ad that you already tried eight months ago, and forgot about. Or you may run 16 ads simultaneously and grow old waiting for insight.
What you need when you have too many choices is a system for filtering and prioritizing those choices. I respectfully submit my “Who, What, Why, How” testing plan for your enjoyment and edification.
Testing Is About Wondering
If you hated high school science class, you may not like the whole idea of testing. So let’s try a quick reframe: testing is just wondering about stuff and figuring out ways to get answers.
My friend and mentor Perry Marshall remarked once that almost all marketing problems are symptoms of not knowing something. If your AdWords ads are not attracting enough visitors to your website, that’s because you don’t understand something important about who your prospects are, what they want, why they want it, how they want it, or more generally, how many or how few of them are there in the first place.
If your ads attract lots of visitors but few leads and sales, that indicates you’re either targeting the wrong searchers with your keyword/ad combinations, or you’re somehow turning them off on your website.
The healthy response to either of those problems (and hundreds like them) is, “I wonder what I don’t know here.” Split testing is simply a way to subject your best guesses to a rigorous market reality check.
Start Broad, Get Narrow
Once you let yourself off the hook and simply see yourself as a bumbling, curious Columbo-like marketer, you’ll probably be able to generate lots of split test ideas.
Now all you need is a testing framework to answer the biggest questions first, and then drill down into the minutiae.
Without a framework, you’re likely to spend a lot of time testing things like “comma vs semicolon” or “half price vs 50 percent off.” Sure, those are important distinctions, but not relevant until you’ve established the big picture. That big picture starts with the question, “Who is my prospect?”