Make the “Big Leagues” With A/B Testing

One of the reasons I love this time of year is that it’s Major League Baseball season. And even though my Florida Marlins are nothing to brag about, there is nothing else that brings back childhood memories of playing like watching a game on TV or heading down to the stadium to catch a live one.

When Spring is in the air, you can bet that I’m reflecting back on my childhood love of the game. In fact, this past Spring, I decided to keep my passion alive by becoming an umpire for my community’s Little League. Yep, I am that guy now.

This year was my first season, so I spent it umpiring games for 8-11 year olds. For many of the kids, it was the first time playing a sport. As I watched them,  I couldn’t help but think, “Man, my friends and I were much better when we were their ages”.

Make the Big Leagues With A/B Testing image baseball mittMake the Big Leagues With A/B Testing

In all actuality we were probably pretty comparable, we just felt like we were Barry Bonds while we were out there playing.

Although the quality of play I witnessed as an umpire was sometimes hard to stomach, there were also glimpses of potential.  And I am sure that a large percentage of these 9 year olds will go on to become pretty good ball players — playing for many years up to and through high school, maybe college, and maybe even a few in the majors one day.

So, what struck me as I reflect back on the season is that everyone has to start somewhere. And usually when we start, we’re not that great. But with practice and persistence, the payoff down the road will far outweigh the initial poor performance. It’s sticking with it that matters on the road to greatness.

The same can be applied to landing page testing. You would be surprised at how many companies I talk to on a weekly basis that are not testing their landing pages. They are spending tons of time and money on generating traffic, but they are not testing the pages they are sending the traffic to. When I hear this, the first question I ask is, “why aren’t you testing?” And the most common answer from marketers who have not tested in the past is that they just do not know where to start.

I get that. Sort of like the kid who goes up to bat at his first baseball practice. He’s overwhelmed. He’s trying to remember every piece of advice his dad just gave him from the side of the field. He feels awkward. And when he swings, his timing is way off, he throws the bat around and misses. Every major league player today experienced that first swing.

Just like kids playing baseball, you have to start somewhere in order to get to the “Big Leagues.”

When considering landing page testing you don’t have to take over the world in one day. Start with your low-hanging fruit (I recommend starting on low funnel keywords) — where you have some traffic and know there is probably room for conversion rate improvement. Start by testing some different content on the page (change headlines & images). Or start by testing the exact same content in a different layout. You don’t have to get stuck in analysis paralysis (in baseball, we call that ‘striking out looking’, because you aren’t swinging the bat as it comes across the plate, you’re just standing there looking at it). The important thing is to just start. Whether it’s content or layout, get a test going.

One thing I recommend for marketers who are stuck thinking about planning about getting around to one day testing, is to think of your landing pages as disposal. You try a little something, if it doesn’t work, you try something else.  Don’t over-invest in any one idea. And don’t let fear stop you. Little by little the learnings of your first few tests will provide you with some insights to help you increase your conversion rates.

The more testing you do, the more insights you gain, and with enough insights you will be batting 500…I mean, you’ll be running better and better tests before you know it!  I’ve never heard of a baseball player that gets worse the more they play. Only their improvements — just like the kids I umpired for this year. We started off the season rough, but by the last game, you could see the draft in their future.

So don’t be the marketer that strikes out looking. What’s to wait for, start testing today!

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