Test everything: overlooked opportunities for improvement are everywhere

At small companies like BuyerZone, you pitch in where help is needed, and over the past few months, I’ve been helping our Quality Assurance team test a wave of new features and improvements to our RFQ platform.

It’s been an eye-opening experience, to say the least. Just when we think we’ve tested every possible combination of both inbound and outbound leads, we find another potential situation that requires testing. And of course, it’s never the straightforward, everyday situations that cause the bugs — it’s the edge cases, the unusual combinations that reveal a bug or a design problem.

This QA time made me realize how marketing and sales organizations could apply broader testing strategies to their efforts. Sure, most companies will test a new landing page, or measure the return they get from a new marketing program. But there are opportunities for testing up and down the sales channel. Here is just a sampling:

  • Test the offer: the most basic type of testing you can do. Which is more attractive – a 30 day free trial, or 5% off your first order? Should you push the 10-user license, or unlimited license with the subscription fee? Should you offer a “free estimate,” a “consultation,” or an “audit?” Try different offers in identical lead gathering settings to see what grabs the most attention.

  • Test landing pages: this is probably one of the most commonly tested parts of a lead generation campaign, and for good reason: they make a huge difference. When you test landing pages, don’t get too bogged down in details: test large changes in design and copy first, then refine the winners. 
  • Test forms: it doesn’t matter if it’s a one-field newsletter signup form, a full-fledged sales cart, or anything in between: the design and functionality of your information-gathering form can make a huge difference in a campaign’s performance.

  • Test performance of different channels: do leads that come from your own web site behave differently than those you purchase from a lead aggregator? Your marketing channels may require individual testing and customized messaging or approaches.

  • Test salespeople: you should look beyond, ‘are they following up as they should’? are one rep’s tactics more effective than another?
  • Test follow up schedules: how many calls and emails should you place, and when?
  • Test messaging: every email or call script is fair game for testing.

  • Test nurturing materials: measure response rates as well as eventual sales from drip marketing campaigns

Of course, most of this is comparative testing: which one of two (or more) approaches is better. Don’t forget to do some basic functional testing as well: how does your web site perform during peak busy times? Do all the phone numbers you use actually ring at the right desk? Is all the information you’re gathering correctly making it into your CRM?

Your turn — what kinds of testing have you found the most valuable? Do you stick with the basics, or do you test end-to-end? 

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