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Tips & Guides — 27 Jul 2021
8 Tips to Using Split Testing For Your Affiliate Program
Getting things right in every business approach is essential if you want to progress and grow. That can mean you have a long list of statistics and metrics to track and monitor, from call center KPIs through to CTRs (click-through rates).
Whatever your sector, you have to consider things like implementing the best communications tools to suit your staff and your customers. Also to be considered, of course, is your marketing.
An increasingly important area of marketing is affiliate marketing, and it’s worth considering the following:
Clearly it’s important, then, but how do we get it right? The primary way to improve your affiliate programs is by split testing (also called A/B testing). But what exactly is split testing, and how do we do it?
Can you remember the last time you bought a new car? Perhaps you had test drives in two or three different cars before deciding which one best suited you. Split testing is like that, only you are testing different versions of things you use (landing pages, ads, content, images, etc.) to engage and attract customers.
For example, let’s say you are launching what you believe is the best call center software available. You try a few different versions of campaigns that may vary in the colors used, the images, and even the actual textual content. You would then track how each version performed and which produced the highest rates of engagement or the most clicks.
Now imagine repeating that process with most of what you present to customers or, in this case, how your affiliate programs are constructed.
You can see the potential of split testing, but how do you go about it?
Before you begin any testing, it helps to have an overview of what you are going to test. That means having a clear understanding of how your website visitors interact with your site. Analyze all your data to see which pages appear to work well, engagement-wise, and which do not.
This can help you see which pages you need to prioritize for testing if they are under-performing — and this also includes other aspects of your site such as CTAs. Tools such as Google Analytics (GA) can be a big help when it comes to finding the information you need.
You next need to decide what your testing times will be. These can vary greatly depending on what you’re testing and what your goals are. Your shortest testing period would probably be around seven days if you were looking to track, and then improve, engagement levels.
If your main goal is to increase your conversion rate, or to reduce your churn rate, then you will want to consider a longer timeframe for testing — anywhere from one to three months. These figures are not set in stone — they can depend on what your final goals are and also what data you have harvested from your initial analysis.
You may well notice things early in the testing process. These could be aspects of your affiliate programs that you feel tempted to adjust straight away. Don’t! Be patient and let any test run the duration you initially planned.
If you start tweaking during a test, your final results will be less accurate and will devalue the overall test. If you do notice things to change early on, simply note them down so you can make those adjustments when the process is finished.
It can be difficult to tell which elements will need to be tweaked or adjusted. But equally, it’s hard to know which ones are working perfectly well. For that reason, you don’t want to make things too complicated by testing too many major elements at the same time. The trick here is to focus on as few elements as possible in each test.
And it makes sense to focus on one major element at a time. You may decide to test the color palette you are using first, or images, or headline formats, and so on. Once you’ve successfully tested the major elements, you can then look at moving onto smaller elements where you can test several at the same time.
Do not see split testing as a one-off process. Things are constantly changing, both with the products and services you offer and also with the behaviour and patterns displayed by your customers. What works well today may not work as well in a year’s time, so see split testing as either an ongoing process or as a process to be regularly revisited.
If you have regular changes or additions to your website, you may want to consider retesting every few months. But that initial cycle of testing should give you a general idea of what usually works, especially in relation to some of the major elements you utilize.
Split testing doesn’t just help you improve everything about your pages and how your affiliate programs work — it can also help identify any major pain points. These can vary greatly, but identifying them and attempting to meet your customers’ specific needs can help make a difference to how successful any program is. By using GA and other tools, you can identify pain points from the data you collect. They can include things like customers being unsure of where to find particular information — or even being unable to find your CTA.
With affiliate programs, you want to know which links to your site perform best as they will be the ones that drive the most revenue, and most benefit your affiliates. You can do this by split testing different links and using different content for each.
This will give you the data you need to see which affiliate links are working best for you. And it means you can concentrate on those links that give you the best results (thus saving you money) as well as the option to drop links that are performing badly or not at all. It can also give you a wider overview of what your target demographics respond to.
Emails can play a big part in how well your affiliate programs work. Marketing emails contain affiliate links you want the reader to click on, so this is something you should also be doing split testing on. You can even experiment with the tone of the email — does use of words and phrases that express urgency (this is a limited offer!) help increase the click-through rates?
There are many other elements you should consider in relation to emails. Even the font type you use may have a negative or positive effect. But the main elements you should look at include things like design, layout, how long the email is, and how you express or place any call to action.
You want to ensure customer satisfaction at every level of your business. Satisfied customers aren’t just customers who will make purchases — they’ll come back and make them again. That means you need to check that things work the way you want them to.
If you were looking at contact center outsourcing, you’d want to be sure your provider would meet your needs. And with affiliate programs, you want to see that every element of every campaign, ad, landing page, etc. does the job you need them to. Split testing helps you test and tweak those elements until you are happy.
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