Thursday, November 19, 2009

Split Run Testing

The "split run" is a testing device long employed in mail order advertising. You have two ads. Which is more effective? You get the answer with a split run test. In addition to testing the effectiveness of an entire ad, headlines, photos, color vs. black and white, etc. can all be tested.

The mechanics for a split run test are simple. The advertiser prepares two ads of identical size and gives each a separate key code on its order coupon. When the coupons (orders) come in, the numbers are read and the winner declared.

The "perfect A-B split" is made possible thanks to the mechanics of the printing press. Some (not all) publishers of newspapers and magazines are able to print in such a way that, as the pages come off the press and are bound, alternate "books" include first the "A," then the "B," then the "A" ad again, etc. Thus a "perfect" split as the publication goes into distribution.

But now we're on the internet. How do we test ads and advertising concepts? It isn't easy and the attempts we make produce much less precise results than a "perfect" A-B split. Yet there are times when we still want to give the concept a try.

I have a number of fragrances that I have created. By myself. My own formulas. And I sell them on the internet. I have been developing a website, and that website has produced some sales.

But, since I'm pretty much unknown as a perfumer outside of my own blogs, I need to stand on my head to get attention -- like the owner of a used car lot -- so to give the website some "personality" I have tried to make it a bit colorful and not exactly what most perfume buyers would expect. website soldiers along.

But could I do better? Would a more "serious" approach to selling my own perfume outdo the seemingly frivolous approach of Thanks to the low cost of setting up a new website, I decided I would give it a try. Thus I now have a second website selling my own perfume and men's fragrances, a "serious" site,

This split test will never have the accuracy of a traditional mail order perfect A-B split. But, as the new site acquires visitors (this will take time), I will be able to see whether I get more sample requests from the one or from the other. This information will help me develop new dvertising pages that sell more effectively.

Ultimately, it's the perfume itself that will make or break the business. But without a "following" you can't expect sales and I want to develop effective communications to build that following. I'm sure that you want this too.


I have said repeatedly that trying to develop an "internet only" perfumery is not a wise move for anyone who is totally unknown yet hopes to get rich quick. Please credit me with patience.

I do believe that developing such a business is possible and my own results to date have been, if not dramatic, at least encouraging. I believe that the "secret" to making such a business flourish is to find a compelling "hook" that will stimulate significant numbers of visitors to request a sample or samples, of your perfume or cologne.

So the fist challenge in this business, even before the fragrance itself, is finding a hook that will bring in sample requests. If you get lots of sample requests but no sales, you can rest assured that the problem lies in your fragrance, not your marketing.

So while my brain and nose are working on new fragrances, I keep my eyes open for marketing ideas that will stimulate requests for samples. My latest brainstorm, which I want to share with you, is the "TWO CENT SAMPLE" offers I am currently employing at my new retail sales website,

The deal is simple. Send me two cents (plus postage and handling) and I'll send you a generous sample of each of the fragrances you request. Obviously two cents doesn't cover their cost. The standard postage and handling charge helps. Of course it would be nice to offer absolutely free samples because I really would like to get them out there but the last time I made a significant "free" offer, about sixty-five percent of those who took me up on it were serving prison sentences and not likely to become cash customers, even upon their release.

"Free" is a strong concept but in the practical world of business it has to be controlled. Thus "two cents (plus postage and handling.)

Will this concept work? Time will tell and I'll be happy to report back at some future date. Meanwhile for your own perfume marketing projects, always keep in mind the value of a sample and the need to get those samples out in the marketplace where they hold the potential to stimulate profitable sales.