There’s an important lesson that’s very easy to lose track of.
It’s this: Don’t guess when you can measure.
Woodworkers don’t seem to forget this very often, but small business marketers do.
I managed an ad campaign over the past few weeks that reminded me how valuable it is to measure.
I had things roughed in and had built out the landing page for the ads. I had the final go-ahead, and then realized I hadn’t made a graphic for the ad itself. I didn’t have much time before my next appointment and further delay was not an option.
So, I made a graphic very quickly. I reused a photo that was already open in Photoshop and wrote the first copy that came to mind. I didn’t spend any time adjusting the wording. I just checked the spelling and set the ad to run.
My plan was to make a better ad the next day.
I spent an hour and a half getting a better photo and writing better text. I launched the new and improved ad, but left the original one running. I wanted to measure the difference between the two.
Well, the original, hasty ad was clicked twice as often as the new one. I had been positive the new one was superior. When I checked the stats, I was really just curious to see how much better the new one was.
I was very wrong.
I ended up trying 4 more ads against that original. Not a single one bested it.
If I had discarded that first ad instead of testing it, I would have gotten about 14% less traffic for the same cost. (You pay less per click if your ad is more likely to be clicked.)
It makes me wonder how many times I’ve tweaked something because I was just sure I was improving it, but I was, in fact, making it worse.
As you start a new year and look back on the lessons learned this year, ask yourself if you’ve measured. If not, don’t be so sure that things happened for the reasons you think they did.
And, next time, test it.