Would you send a million letters costing tens of thousands of dollars to print and mail, in a direct marketing campaign, without testing the letter content first?

That's what many Web site owners do when they don't test and measure their own site copy and content, then spend thousands on Web marketing campaigns to drive traffic to their sites.

In direct mail campaigns, the mailers know based on test mail-outs what to expect and therefore what the return on investment will be. They basically write, rewrite and rewrite again until they have the content that gets the desired response.

Many moons ago, I used to work full-time writing for direct mailing companies. The mailers would ask for three or four different versions of the same message. They tested each one with a short mail-out (about 1,000 per shot) and gauged response to find the best percentage.

So the direct mail marketer has a solid figure to work on. He knows if he spends figure “a” on direct mailing he will get figure “b” response.

Why can't the same apply to Web site marketing? Well, we think it can.

We tested this theory for eight months, and for the last four months we have consistently been hitting the same solid percentage level (within roughly 0.5%) of conversion.

By defining your Web site goal and objectives, experimenting with copy, content, persuasion, design, color and architecture, it is possible to predict what the response of your site conversion will be. In other words, you can confidently predict how many people will do what you want them to do every month… month after month. Easy? No. It takes a lot of work, but it certainly is possible.

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Steve Jackson (steve@conversionchronicles.com) is editor of the Conversion Chronicles and CEO of Aboavista, a Finnish company that improves Web conversion rates.