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Why Aren't Most Marketers Running Tests? (It's Not That Hard)

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Given the amount of content generated daily that focuses on marketing best practices (some of it to be found right here at MarketingProfs!), figuring out how to do most marketing things "the right way" shouldn't be difficult.

For example, by now, everyone knows that if you are pursuing a content marketing strategy, you should be creating and using buyer personas. If lead generation is your priority, there is a right way and a wrong way to handle lead qualification. If email marketing is key to your success, there is plenty of information to be found on maintaining your sender reputation, managing lists, writing effective subject lines, and so on.

But even if you are skeptical about the marketing advice you find on the internet, one bit of advice, if heeded, can dispel (or at least mitigate) that skepticism: Test.

Want to know which subject lines perform better? Run a test.

Want to know which call-to-action drives more conversions? Run a test.

Is your lead capture form too long or just right? Run a test.

Redesigning your website? Run a test.

(You get the picture.)

So... Why Don't You Test?

Sometimes, people don't do the right thing because they don't know what the right thing is. (You can't say this about testing.)

Sometimes, people don't do the right thing because they view it as a hassle or aren't really sure how to do it. (Testing tools are readily available, cheap or free, and, at a basic level, not difficult to use.)

And sometimes people don't do the right thing because they are afraid of the consequences.

That was essentially what Justin Rondeau of told me when I interviewed him on this week's episode of Marketing Smarts.

As he put it, "People don't want to jump into testing because they feel it makes you far more accountable."

Should We Avoid Accountability?

I don't think that anyone would openly advocate avoiding accountability in our marketing efforts. At the same time, there are some understandable, though not particularly noble, reasons for wishing to do so.

In the best case scenario, you may be avoiding the accountability that testing can bring because you are uncertain about the effectiveness of your marketing efforts and you are afraid that if some of it turns out to be ineffective, that will reflect poorly on your abilities as a marketer. To this fear I would reply, "Finding out what is working---and what isn't---can only make you a better marketer. Don't let your ego get in the way of improving your skills."

In the worst case scenario, you are avoiding testing because you are afraid that testing will demonstrate that your marketing efforts are not working at all. To this I can only ask, "If someone is paying you to do something, and it's not working, don't you think your employer has the right to know that?"

OK... Now, Really, Why Aren't You Testing?

You know it's the right thing to do. If you are a marketing practitioner, you know it can make you a better marketer. If you are a marketing leader, you know that it can create real, albeit scary,  accountability. If you are a business owner, you know that it can improve the return on your marketing spend.

So, why in the heck aren't you testing?

If you would like hear my entire conversation with Justin, you may listen or download the podcast here. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!

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My name is Matthew T. Grant, PhD. I'm Managing Editor here at MarketingProfs. I divide my time between designing courses for MarketingProfs University and hosting/producing our podcast, Marketing Smarts. You can follow me on Twitter (@MatttGrant) or read my personal musings on my blog here.

If you'd like to get in touch with me about being a guest on Marketing Smarts or teaching as part of MarketingProfs University or, frankly, anything else at all, drop me a line.

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  • by Todd Randolph Fri Mar 8, 2013 via blog

    good points. my concerns around testing usually come back to sample size. if you don't have a few hundred data points in total, you can say what you want about results and it'll be just as anecdotal. and remember, it's not the size of your list, but the percentage that take _some_ action one way or the other.

  • by Matthew T. Grant Fri Mar 8, 2013 via blog

    I think this speaks to the "I don't know how to do it fear" or, perhaps the unspoken fear for smaller businesses "I'm afraid if I go to the trouble of setting up a test, I'm not going to get enough traffic to make the results meaningful."

    Creating a testing culture means not only allaying people's fears about accountability and "failure," but also ensuring that when testing happens, it does so in a methodologically sound way.

    Thanks for the comment, T.

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