Advertising Testing... The Real Secret Of Direct Response Marketing

One secret of advertising has been known for more than a hundred years:  "Advertising is salesmanship in print."  Sure, today it might actually be more than just print.  For example, it could be a television ad, a radio ad, or a website.

But the point is the same - it's just a way to multiply your effectiveness as a "salesman" by presenting your sales pitch to hundreds, thousands, even millions at the same time.

The purpose of advertising is to sell. Period.  If your ads are not selling, they are a failure, no matter how much they may be getting your name in front of people or building a reputation.

But how can you make your advertising as effective as possible?  And how can you know how effective your advertising is?

The answer to both is direct response marketing and scientific testing.  First of all you, you have to be able to measure the results of your ads.  The best way to do that is through direct response marketing - marketing where you know exactly which responses came from which advertisement.  Second, you have to keep testing variations in you ad over and over. Test again. And then test some more.  Testing is the big secret of direct response marketing.

In direct response marketing, you need a "control" that you test against.  A control is simply the ad or sales letter you are currently running, or your first one if you are just starting out.

Suppose your control consistently receives a two percent response rate.  You test a new ad or sales letter against it and the new ad receives a three percent response - consistently.  That means the new ad is actually outselling the control by 50%!

If you're just starting out, model your ad or sales letter after other successful ads and sales letters.  Start with known effective direct marketing principles, like crafting an ad to seem as if it is speaking to people as individuals.  Starting with known principles and models as a starting point just makes good common sense.

Starting with this first ad or sales letter as your control, first measure and determine the direct response rate of your control.  Once you know what the consistent response is, it's time to test.

Carefully change one thing at a time, measuring the results.  Sometimes a small change here or there is all that is needed to increase advertising response rates dramatically.  Generally, direct marketers recommend that you start with the headline.  You could change the wording of the headline, or you could change the color or font of the headline.  Sometimes even just putting the headline in quotes makes a difference!

Slowly test changes one at a time and watch your results.  Once you are convinced that a new ad or sales letter will consistently outpull the old one, it's time for the new ad to become your control.  Then it all starts over.  You have a new control, and you have to test new ads to see if you can beat that control consistently.

Testing takes time, though, and it can be expensive.  The Internet actually makes it considerably less expensive to do direct response marketing and testing than print, television, or radio advertising.  It can also be easier to track direct response results on the Internet.  Just code your web pages so that you know which ad or which web page produced each sale.

Start small with your testing.  When you have a winner, slowly roll it out to bigger and bigger audiences, testing carefully as you go.  Don't be too eager!  Spending a lot of money on advertising before you know exactly what you can expect it to produce in sales is risky at best.  But with careful testing of your ads, you will find that you can predict to a great extent what every dollar you spend in direct response marketing will produce in sales.


 Mike Adams is the owner and Webmaster of Timberway.com as well as PLR-Content.comGigantic Resale Rights, and many other popular Internet Marketing sites.  He has been marketing on the Internet since before the Web became a household word.