Split Testing

Was talking to a client and graphic designer yesterday about split testing. Here is a great example of something to test and the reson for it from a newsletter I received this morning.
Dear Direct Response Letter Subscriber:
I have dealt with this complaint before, but it comes up every now and then, and recently, I heard it from a potential client
who wanted to sell Web services to marketing managers at Fortune 500 and middle market corporations.
“Our copy is too simple,” the client said of his web site. “This sounds as if we are talking to small business owners. Our
audience is senior managers at Fortune 500 companies. The tone needs to be much more professional and sophisticated.”
Oh, really? Says who?
One of the biggest misconceptions about writing to CEOs, CFOs, and other senior executives is that they speak some alien language that has only a passing resemblance to the conversational or written English you and I use every day … and that, to sell to this special audience, you have to emulate or copy this special language.
But the reality is: C-level executives put their pants on one leg at a time just like everyone else. They read the same blogs you do … go to the same movies … listen to the same radio stations … watch the same TV shows.
Yes, it’s smart marketing to understand your audience and then write copy that speaks to their specific needs, fears, concerns, problems, and desires.
And you want to tailor the tone and style of your language to your audience to a reasonable degree. For instance, you wouldn’t use off-color language when writing to ministers. Or use equations in differential calculus when writing to factory
But ministers, chemists, accountants, engineers, computer programmers, while they all may speak the specialized language of their trade, also speak a common language: the English language. And that’s the language you should use when writing your copy.
How do I know I am right? The same way we know anything about direct marketing: through testing.
I have tested “plain English” copy against “high-falutin” copy numerous times over the span of my 34-year career in direct marketing … and 99 times out of 100, the same language that works for “ordinary folks” sells just as effectively to CEOs, Ph.D.s, and yes, even rocket scientists.
It is easy enough to see this for yourself. Study the controls in any market, for any kind of product. Collect as many e-mails and direct mail pieces as you can that you know to be strong controls, because they have been mailed repeatedly.
Now divide them into two piles: those written in plain English vs. those written in jargon, big words, or “high falutin” language. If you have collected a dozen samples, I guarantee that the number in the “plain English” pile will be 12 or 11 … no fewer than that … proving my point.
I once interviewed more than a hundred CEOs, including those at many Fortune 500 companies, to ghostwrite a book
Leadership Secrets of the World’s Most Successful CEOs (Dearborn). Without exception, they were all plain-speaking men and women, using direct, straightforward, conversational language in their written and oral communication – even those in computers and IT.
The world’s most respected writing authorities all agree that good writing is clear, simple, and direct.
“Clutter is the disease of American writing,” writes William Zinsser in On Writing Well (HarperCollins). “We are a society strangling in unnecessary words, circular constructions, pompous frills, and meaningless jargon.”
And what about my claim that good writing is “conversational”?
“You can’t actually write the way you talk,” writes Rudolph Flesch in The Art of Readable Writing (Harper & Row). “You can, however, put a reasonable facsimile of your ordinary talking self on paper. You can purposely put into your writing certain things that will make it sound like talk.” (He cites contractions as one example.)
One other point: as a chemical engineer myself, I have been writing copy aimed at engineers, scientists, mathematicians, systems analysts, and other “techies” for 34 years. And in all that time, I’ve never been told that the simple, plain English copy I wrote was “too easy to read.”
Of course, you can always test my claim that plain English outpulls “high falutin” language for yourself. Here’s how….
The next time a marketing manager says of your conversational copy, “It’s not professional enough,” offer to do a split test: your version against his.
Then you’ll know definitely what works best for your audience … rather than relying on his (or yours, or my) opinion.
(RG, a colleague, did this with a direct mail package aimed at executives, and his conversational version beat the “professional package” 3 to 1.)
Make sense? Of course. Doing an A/B split test always does, right?
Bob Bly
P.S. For more information on how to write clear, conversational
copy, visit:
Bob Bly
Copywriter / Consultant
590 Delcina Drive
River Vale, NJ 07675
Phone 201-505-9451
Fax 201-573-4094

Local Search Is Hot!

Over 40% of searches right now on Google are based upon city or zip code.
Over 60% of those people searching end up making a purchase offline in their LOCAL area.

Today's newsletter from the Citizens Electoral Council of Australia: More scientists expose climate fraud

The recent Doha UN Climate Change Conference is yet another push for a global green fascist dictatorship—it has nothing to do with climate science. However, in one respect Doha is scientific: it is a scientific proof that the propaganda line of a “consensus” on man-made global warming is laughable, as Australia is one of only 37 nations, out of the 194 in attendance, to commit to economic self-destruction by signing up to the new Kyoto Protocol. China, which is building approximately one new coal-fired power station per week (compared with Australia’s rate of just four stations built in the last decade), is not one of the 37 signers.
Many thousands of scientists have been shouting from the rooftops for years that “global warming” is a swindle and they continue to do so despite enormous pressure to submit to the climate gravy train and the mainstream media efforts to supress them.
On 29 November 2012, 125-plus prominent scientists wrote an open letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, slamming the entire climate swindle and Ban Ki-moon’s complicity in propagating climate lies, such as blaming Hurricane Sandy on “climate change”.
In this open letter these scientists stated: “The U.K. Met Office recently released data showing that there has been no statistically significant global warming for almost 16 years…. The hypothesis that our emissions of CO2 have caused, or will cause, dangerous warming is not supported by the evidence…. we ask that you desist from exploiting the misery of the families of those who lost their lives or properties in tropical storm Sandy by making unsupportable claims that human influences caused that storm. They did not.”
Contrary to mainstream media hype, the vast majority of scientists do not subscribe to the view that we are facing a man-made climate catastrophe. And they certainly don’t attribute a freak storm to global warming which stopped more than a decade ago.
In America alone, to date 31,487 scientists (9,029 with PhDs) have signed the Global Warming Petition Project, debunking “global warming” and adding that “there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth.”
A 2010 survey of media broadcast meteorologists conducted by the U.S. George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication found that almost two-thirds (63 per cent) of 571 who responded believe global warming is caused mostly by natural changes in the environment—not human activities. Those surveyed included members of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) and the National Weather Association.
A more recent 2012 survey published by the AMS found that 41 per cent of their members were not convinced that human activity is the primary cause of global warming and only 30 per cent of members said they were very worried about global warming. This is a highly significant level of dissent considering the official AMS statement on climate change is that the “dominant cause of the warming since the 1950s is human activities”.
The AMS peddles numerous imagined climate disaster scenarios as does the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, the CSIRO and many other institutions under direction from the financial oligarchy. It’s not a good career move to break from the official line and many scientists wait until they retire before they slam the official climate claptrap.
Scientists who have seriously looked at geological history know that carbon dioxide levels today at 390 ppm are much lower than for most of the history of life on Earth and 450 million years ago the Earth went into an Ice Age when carbon dioxide levels exceeded 4,000 ppm—more than ten times the current concentration.
Here are some of those among the majority of scientists who don’t subscribe to the nonsense of an anthropogenic climate catastrophe:
“I’ve often heard it said that there is a consensus of thousands of scientists on the global warming issue, and that humans are causing catastrophic change to the climate system. Well, I am one scientist, and there are many, that simply think that is not true.”—Dr. John Christy, professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama.
“I am a sceptic…. Global warming has become a new religion.”—Nobel Prize Winner for Physics, Dr. Ivar Giaever.
“It is a blatant lie put forth in the media that makes it seem there is only a fringe of scientists who don’t buy into anthropogenic global warming.”—Stanley B. Goldenberg, U.S. Government (NOAA) atmospheric scientist and meteorologist.
“There is no proven link between human activity and global warming.”—Prof. Yuri Izrael, IPCC vice-chairman.
“AGW (anthropogenic global warming) is a fiction and a very dangerous fiction.”—William Kininmonth, head of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology’s National Climate Centre (1986-1998), Australian delegate to the World Meteorological Organization’s Commission for Climatology (1982-1998).
“CO2 emissions make absolutely no difference one way or another…. Every scientist knows this, but it doesn’t pay to say so.”—Prof. Takeda Kunihiko, vice-chancellor of the Institute of Science and Technology Research at Chubu University in Japan.

Recommended Reading

“I strongly recommend that every American acquire some basic knowledge of economics, monetary policy, and the intersection of politics with the economy. No formal classroom is required; a desire to read and learn will suffice. There are countless important books to consider, but the following are an excellent starting point: The Law by Frédéric Bastiat; Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt; What has Government Done to our Money? by Murray Rothbard; The Road to Serfdom by Friedrich Hayek; and Economics for Real People by Gene Callahan.
“If you simply read and comprehend these relatively short texts, you will know far more than most educated people about economics and government. You certainly will develop a far greater understanding of how supposedly benevolent government policies destroy prosperity. If you care about the future of this country, arm yourself with knowledge and fight back against economic ignorance. We disregard economics and history at our own peril.”
—Ron Paul, Representative from Texas