A/B Testing with Phone Numbers

Apr 14, 2015

Marketers know that the most successful campaigns stem from data driven decisions – which is why it is standard practice to test anything before it’s released. We want to know which headline causes the most click throughs, which images lead to higher conversion, and which color our call to action buttons should be and what they should say – and rightfully so. We want to know the best way to spend our precious marketing budget. It’s not difficult to get data about clicks, page visits and conversions – but what about the marketing processes that result in offline sales action? How do you test those campaigns? HN-0009-BlogSidebar-v1[1]

Using phone numbers to test the response of leads or customers to various marketing efforts, both online and offline allows you to look at which variables influence your highest converting segment.

“I know that half my ad dollars are wasted, I just don’t know which half.”  – John Wanamaker.

What should you A/B test with phone numbers? The short answer to that is “everything.” Realistically, though, you should test everything that has a potential for offline action. If there’s even a slight chance that someone will call in response to it (and like we mentioned earlier, much more likely buy), you should know which version is most effective. Marketers are all aware that you need to test various aspects on your website, so we’ll leave that aside. Here are a few things you may not have thought about testing, that are perfect candidates for A/B testing with phone numbers:

Online networking: Do you have a digital business card, or online business networking membership? Companies like Brazzlebox allow you to join an online social network that allows you to connect and collaborate with other businesses. You probably have a company LinkedIn profile, and maybe even a Ryze profile, too. But which of these platforms are being truly effective in getting your name and content out there? If you assign a unique phone number to your digital presence on each of the networks, and do an equal soft promotion of your content on each, you’ll soon have insight into which one of them you should focus most of your advertising budget on.

email_testEmails: If you’re on the fence between two ideas for email campaigns, test away! Your email marketing tool likely tracks the opens and clicks for you, but at least for us, calls from emails are much more telling. (link to email call tracking post) You can test whole campaign ideas (call to start your 14 day free trial, vs. call to start your 30 day free trial), all the way down to whether a plain text or HTML email drives more calls for you. Send each version of the email to a small (but equal) percentage of your potential list, and see which one receives the most offline action. Keep in mind that the content of the calls that emails drive are just as important to document – one might be an overwhelming “sign me up!” response, where the other version has callers asking many questions. When you have the results on which versions’ calls are converting at a higher rate, send that version to the remaining portion of your list.

Event marketing: Are you spending thousands upon thousands of dollars to go to trade shows each year? Do you know if your sales material is effective there? Try taking two versions of your printed information- your original, and your proposed new material – and handing out equal amounts of both to attendees. Before you spend all the money printing the new material for all of your trade shows for the entire year, make sure that the new material is as, if not more effective, as the old material. And once you’ve tested and optimized your material, you can use call tracking reports to see which events are driving the most calls from your printed material.

When you’re looking to dive into more detailed testing than just new landing pages, or image headers on your advertising, think about testing these assets. This doesn’t mean you should stop testing your users’ online action, but be sure that efforts that drive offline conversion are being paid special attention to, and tested as well.


Jamie Nichols

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