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Two Marketing Birds With One Stone: Split Testing With Your Sales Letter


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You can’t beat the web for low-cost and no-cost advertising… and yet there are thousands of solo entrepreneurs who have yet to create a sales page and start aggressively marketing their information product. Which brings us to the obvious question: WHY create a product if you aren’t going to market it?

One of the most delightful and economical features of the Web is the ability to split-test your sales letter to multiple markets at nearly ZERO extra cost. You can do this yourself, and leverage your sales potential exponentially while keeping a tight clutch on your purse strings. Or, you can farm it out to a professional, and even still for thousands less than it would take to create two fresh ads from scratch, ask for multiple sales letter versions at a bulk rate that have you hitting potential target markets faster than your grandpa can win at the county fair Whack-a-Mole game.

In the world of corporate print advertising, split testing is performed via ad versioning. Millions of companies put ad versioning to work so they can squeeze every drop of profit potential out of their paid ad campaigns. Ad versioning involves taking a single ad (which could be anything from a sales letter, catalog, newsletter, print ad, etc.) and creating multiple versions of it that speak to subgroups of the primary market.

An example: U.S. fashion retailers run versioned catalogs to their hot and cold weather market segments. The “Cold Zone” version of the piece might feature winter coats and accessories, where the “Warm Zone” would replace the winter items with lightweight outerwear. The remaining “neutral” items and the jist of the ad promotions stay the same. So, the versioned catalog would look *almost* identical to the original, with the exception of those select items and/or headlines.

How is this important? Well.. why would you try to sell ski jackets to folks in Florida when you know they’d be far more likely to pay for a windbreaker? Laser-targeting to specific sub-groups makes sense for ANY marketing and brings increased revenue to companies large AND small.

For large corporations, ad versioning incurs additional blackplate change fees by the printing company. The split testing comes in after the season is finished and sales are analyzed. If the versioned ads don’t yield enough profit to cover the additional printing expenses, then they’re dropped the next year. That is, assuming the marketing people are “on the ball.” ;)

What does this have to do with YOUR web marketing? It’s clear that ad versioning works, or the world’s top corporations wouldn’t use it. Testing makes sense. It’s a critical part of your success strategy and should be implemented wherever and whenever possible.

It’s MUCH less labor-intensive, and far more cost-effective, to create ONE advertisement and then modify parts of it to suit the audience, than to start from scratch every time you want to address a sub-group of your market. The beauty of having a sales letter on the web, is that you can easily create as many versions of the same copy as you’d like to appeal to multiple market segments.

For example, let’s say you’re marketing the handy-dandy “Soap Chip Recycling Machine” (I can’t take credit for this idea – saw something like it on an infomercial back in the ’80s). The Soap Chip Recycling Machine lets you take those annoyingly small, slippery soap chips that collect in the bathrooms and kitchen of your home, and mash them all together in a special soap-bar compactor to form a new, fresh bar of soap. As the creator, you think this is a breakthrough product that will change the lives of millions and save the world a ton of money on soap… and you want to pitch it to the right people/make yourself a nice fortune.

Who do you think you’d market this thing to? Consumers of course… so, you write a sales letter that covers the myriad benefits of this miraculous soap maker, and in it you speak to Mom, because she’s the one who’s in control of the weekly grocery shopping and you know she’d like to save money on soap, not to mention avoid dealing with those pesky little soap slivers.

But then you think, well, old folks might like this nifty gizmo too, because seniors are often frugal and more likely to stick with the traditional bar soaps that they grew up with. So now you take the same sales letter, replace the photos of Mom with some old geezers, change a few of the headlines and some of the copy, and you’ve got a variation on the soap bar theme that you can pitch to a new audience and it didn’t cost you a RED CENT to make the change and potentially DOUBLE your profits.

Split-testing works particularly well if you’re grappling over who you should be marketing to in your ads. Why choose one audience over the other, when for dollars per ad (or for nothing, if you write your own copy), you can hit two marketing birds with one stone? Of course, if you’re going to split-test your sales letter on the internet, you’ll want to fork the marketing road and follow both paths. Take the letter you wrote to Mom, and market it via articles and press releases that you submit to home and family websites. Take the other sales letter and do the same, but for senior sites instead.

I hope that this lesson in split-testing with sales letters has whet your web marketing appetite and helped you realize that the only thing that’s stopping you from selling to a planet full of prospects is your lack of action. The time has come to take action and start selling. So let’s get with the marketing program, get that sales letter written, and put your marketing materials to the test.

Copyright 2006 Dina Giolitto. All rights reserved.

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  • Posted On December 30, 2006
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