5 Steps to A/B Test like a Growth Hacker

August 30, 2013 by

All marketers seek ad nirvana through A/B testing in hopes of discovering the right ad to landing page combination. You turn to AdWords to create dozens of ad haikus and let them run their course. A/B testing like this is an accepted practice. Sacrifice a few good ads for the greater good, right? I know I have contributed my fair share of wasted AdWord haikus over the years.

If you have limited dollars to spend, this method can be expensive. You need to do A/B testing like a Growth Hacker. Here’s my story.

When I first launched dlvr.it in 2010, I had $500 per month to spend on advertising. This small budget forced me to find free alternatives to testing messages quickly so I could apply this small budget on ad copy and landing pages that converted.

Step 1: Leverage Your Fans

I turned to social media. My fans became my focus group. My hypothesis: if I knew what my current audience was interested in, it would help attract a similar audience in paid media.

Social media provided instant and ongoing feedback. My goal was to test what keywords drove my fans to share, click and convert.  Using social media I could test and prove messaging in real-time using the immediate data generated by free social media and website analytics tools. My fans minimized my risk by providing feedback before I pulled out my credit card for paid media.

Cost: $0.00

Step 2: Stuff Tweets With Keywords

My approach to social content creation was the same as if I was setting up an AdWords campaign. I created a list of keywords and phrases I wanted to test. Next, I wrote a series of status updates and tweets that included the keywords. At this point, I was looking to see what combination of words would compel people to share or click.

Cost: $0.00

Step 3: Reuse, Reformat and Recycle

To a social media purist, this next step may be considered blasphemy. In a nutshell, I shared the same piece of content several times (you would not have known that unless you clicked through.)

For example, if I were sharing an infographic instead of just sharing one update with a link, I would create several tweets highlighting one section of the infographic. Over the course of a day(s), I would share each update. Each update contained a valuable keyword(s) from my test set from step 1.

Cost: $0.00

Step  4: Monitor Actionable Data ONLY!

When it comes to analytics, I like to work with a simple set of data. Ultimately, I was looking for conversions. The following simple data points were enough information I needed to set my AdWords campaign up for success.

  1. Content Analysis: What status updates are generating clicks, retweets and sales?
  2. Demographic & Psychographic Analysis: Who is my content resonating with?
  3. Sentiment Analysis: What are the popular themes or keywords?

I also learned a lot from my fans. I paid particular attention to the words they used when they shared one of my updates with their audience. Many times I discovered keywords I hadn’t thought of.

Cost: $0.00

Step 5: Scale Paid Media

Now I was ready to spend. I had a good idea of the keywords and content that resonated with my audience, and I knew who was already attracted to dlvr.it. Armed with this data, I started my first AdWords campaign. I continue to hone my skill and test.

Cost: $500

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