My favorite source of info on direct marketing testing is MarketingSherpa.

Yesterday they reported a test they had conducted with their own online newsletters that underscores what it means to get down into the weeds and test everything!

They were aiming to improve click through rates from brief items in their various e-newsletters through to the full articles on their website. They hypothesized that the actual words inside their “click” buttons might make a difference. So they tested these variations:

“Click to continue”

“Continue to article”

“Read more”

One of these outperformed the others significantly … enough for MarketingSherpa to immediately adopt the phrase throughout its e-pubs. The winner? You'll have to skip to the P.S. below!

Two points here for nonprofit fundraisers and communicators.

First, test everything! This lesson has been absorbed by most good direct mail pros. I'm far less certain that online marketers are as diligent, even though testing in the online medium is easier, faster and cheaper to execute.

Second, build your own “testing bible” … a formal, systematic institutional memory of all the testing you (hopefully) have completed, with lessons learned. And, if/when you're considering a direct marketing fundraising consultant, whether for direct mail or online marketing, make sure you get a good look at their bible as well. The more robust it is, the better. If they don't have one, try someone else! Life is too short to reinvent the wheel.


P.S. The winner was “Click to continue.” Worst was “Read more.” MarketingSherpa opines that online readers don't actually read, they scan. And they even resist the notion that they're reading. So don't throw the word “Read” at them … it's too demanding. Sounds plausible.

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