How to Optimize Your Copy with Split Testing

As writers, sometimes we are guilty of thinking our copy is amazing because, well, we like it.

In truth, copy exists for one reason: to move readers to action. Writing that doesn’t do that might be thoughtful and well-wrought, but it certainly isn’t amazing. In fact, it’s not doing its job. No one has room for copy like that on their site.

Fortunately, there’s a simple, time-honored and objective way to make sure you are posting the best copywriting you’ve got: the split test.

Understanding Split Testing

In case you’re not familiar with the term, split testing is simply the act of making two versions of your copy available and measuring which one leads to higher conversions. In the world of online copy, you can do this cheaply and easily simply by setting up a landing page that automatically sends half your traffic to a page featuring version “A” of your copy and half to version “B.”

Once your visitors start arriving at each variation of your site, observe which one converts most successfully. Adopt that version as your “final” text, but don’t stop there. Go back to your copy and decide if there is another element you need to test. Maybe you feel you have optimized your headline, but do know if short copy or long copy is most appropriate for the product you are writing about? Don’t guess. Test it.

What to Test

So, what kinds of things should you test in your quest to write copy capable of ruling the universe? The possibilities are endless. With split testing, you can optimize your copy for the best:

  • Headlines
  • Copy Lengths
  • Calls to Action
  • Highlighted Product Benefits
  • Typefaces and Font Sizes
  • Point of View
  • Link Anchor Text
  • Anything Else You Can Think Of

Don’t Over Generalize

Just be aware that split testing does not produce “one size fits all” results. What works amazingly well for copy targeted at affluent women in their 50s interested in capital preservation may utterly fail when trying to reach an audience of teenaged early technology adopters who need a more efficient way to search their massive library of MP3s. Obviously, that’s an extreme example, but there’s no doubt that market segment, product type, and any number of other factors will affect the effectiveness of your copy. Don’t over-generalize your past results. Instead, consider each job a unique case and get ready to run yet another split testing campaign.

Do this systematically and you will end up with both fully optimized copy and a stable of clients who regard you as their personal lucky charm. When they get bored with rolling around in the piles of money you’ve earned them and start looking at another project to satisfy their entrepreneurial cravings, rest assured, they will contact you to handle the copywriting services.

Matthew R is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.


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