524 years ago a bizarre experiment took place…
King James IV of Scotland ordered two new-born babies be sent to the tiny, uninhabited island of Inchkeith.
They were to have no contact with humans, other than with a deaf-mute lady that he sent to look after them.
As barbaric as it sounds the king believed he was following a bold and noble cause…
He was searching for the language of God, the uncorrupted voice of mankind.
And if these two innocent babies, deprived of any spoken language, developed their own dialect, then this, he proclaimed, would be the dialect of Eden.
Unfortunately while the start of this strange experiment was well documented, the results are shrouded in mystery…
One account claims that the babies spoke Hebrew (the language of the Old Testament)… while another suggests that they communicated in grunts and animal sounds…
The more likely outcome is that the trio, stranded so far from a functioning community, would have struggled to survive.
I like to imagine that someone – maybe a kindly fisherman – caught wind of the cruel experiment and found a way to rescue these poor babies and their carer.
Who knows? Maybe somewhere on this strange planet of ours their descendants live today speaking whichever language they please.
You can find out what became of King James IV in just a moment (and yes, it gets weirder), but first let’s fast-forward 524 years.
Today I want to take a look at how to run some powerful (and completely ethical and non-creepy) split tests for your business.
Split testing is vital if you want your business to grow.
And thankfully you don’t have to exploit a deaf-mute nurse, deprive any babies of human interaction, or hire a private island to do any of the split tests I’m about to share with you.
5 Powerful Split Tests You Can Try Right Now on Your Website, Squeeze Page or Email List
Even if you’re not a skilled writer, designer or marketer, split testing can dramatically increase your conversions and sales.
Generally speaking, there are two types of businesses…
The Plodders – Those that amble along… endless meetings about meetings… always doing the same thing… afraid to try anything new.
The Go Getters – Those that test everything, no matter how weird and whacky… always looking to get that extra edge… not afraid to let their customers guide them as to what to do next.
We’re interested in the Go Getters.
Sure you can plod your way along to increased profits over time, but it’s much more fun (not to mention efficient) to run small, quick split tests as part of your weekly or monthly routine.
That’s because with every test you learn something new.
If that test is successful, you keep it in place and try to improve on it further in the next test, and so on…
Overtime these small, incremental improvements can make a huge difference to your bottom line.
So let’s look at a few split tests you can try running for your business…
1. Test button colours: Try testing two different button colours against each other. For example, orange vs green, or red vs blue. Many marketers claim that orange is the most arresting colour to use on your call-to-actions, but in reality it’s all relative. It also depends on the colour scheme you are using on your website or email. For instance, if there are already a lot of orange and yellow shades in use, orange is less likely to stand out.
2. Test short vs long email copy: If you have an email newsletter, test having the whole newsletter in your email (long copy) vs having some just teaser copy followed by a link to the full article (short copy). There are a few factors at play here: the length of your email and the ratio of text to images can affect deliverability. You may also find that the teaser style email gets you more clicks. Again, this is good for deliverability (they like high click-rates) and also for your website traffic, as you’ll have more people visiting your website.
3. Test featured image types: If you use featured images at the top of articles on your website or in your email newsletters, try testing different styles. There are a few things you can try: illustrated images vs photography, people vs objects, images with text on them vs images without. You can measure the response by recording any increases/decreases in click-throughs.
4. Test HTML vs plain-text emails: Run an email bulletin text HTML (styled and pretty with images and buttons) vs plain text (no styling whatsoever). The general consensus is that plain text emails enjoy increased deliverability and thus higher open rates, but you need to measure this against your conversions and click-through rates. It might be that even with a lower open rate, the ability to use images in your emails yields you more sales.
5. Test your subject lines/headlines: This is one of my favourite tests to run and most email broadcasters (such as Mailchimp) make it very easy to do. When you write an email bulletin or article come up two or three different subject-line ideas. Then when you come to send it, try testing one subject line against the other to a small portion of the list (in most platforms this can be done with the press of a button). When you have determined a clear winner (you might want to measure this by open rates or click-through rates) send out the rest of the email to the winning variant. Some WordPress themes let you split test headlines on your pages so you can try to reduce bounce rates on your website.
Oh and what become of King James IV?
In a somewhat ironic twist he was excommunicated by the Catholic Church.
When he died on the battlefield this meant that the man once so obsessed with discovering the divine tongue could not be buried on consecrated ground.
Unsure of what to do with his body, the corpse was left to fester in a woodshed in a monastery in Sheen.
When the Pope did eventually grant permission for a proper burial, he had all but been forgotten about. There are even stories of his head being used as a football by workmen before it was eventually rescued and taken to a charnel pit in the city of London to reside with other lost bones…
On a lighter note, please let us know if you’ve run any interesting split tests recently in the comments below.
Doesn’t seem so much has changed, as they still kick heads around as footballs and nobodys sure which tongue is the correct one to talk in and atrocities are well up with that, today.
On a more cheerful note, Tom, thanks for all the split-testing info.Most helpful.
All the best,
Thanks John, glad you found it useful