When review­ing a direct response cam­paign, mar­ket­ing groups often turn to A/B test­ing to iden­tify a win­ner. They do so for one rea­son. It works.

First used in 1893 by the very col­or­ful Albert Lasker, the A/B test is both sim­ple and effec­tive. Most often applied to the mus­cle that pow­ers sales and leads, it is a cross-training exer­cise you should con­sider work­ing out with in the brand­ing arena as well. Test­ing and using results from an A/B exer­cise, the mes­sag­ing pil­lars that sup­port brand­ing are poised to com­pete and win based on evi­dence as opposed to opinion.

We recently did a boot camp style exer­cise in our own mar­ket­ing gym, select­ing an A/B test at Adobe to tone and tighten mes­sag­ing pil­lars sup­port­ing the brand. Using an iden­ti­cal call to action in a sim­ple mar­quee lay­out, we com­pared three mes­sag­ing pil­lars against a con­trol mes­sage: inte­grated, sin­gle view, and indus­try leader. Here’s a quick look at the results:

  * Con­trol = 2.97

Test Group* Click-Through Rate (%)
Dif­fer­ence (%) Rank 
Mar­quee Click-Through
Inte­grated  3.17  6.95 1
Sin­gle View 2.86  –3.53 2
Indus­try Leader 2.77  –6.71 3
Page Views Per Visit
Inte­grated 2.69  8.85 1
Sin­gle View 2.49  0.88 2
Indus­try Leader 2.39  –3.38 3

While the results are not extreme, and there is more to this story, this exer­cise pointed toward an inte­grated mes­sag­ing pil­lar as a way to improve click-through rates. It helped us to strengthen our nar­ra­tive and value propo­si­tion within mes­sag­ing pil­lars. Applied to the brand level, as opposed to the pur­chase level, the num­bers show which mes­sage res­onated with an edge and which had less impact.

The next time you are going through the process with your cre­ative team, review­ing dif­fer­ent ways to apply clever ad work to objec­tives, don’t just rely on Pow­er­Points, comps, and sto­ry­boards. Intu­ition is impor­tant. Gut reac­tion, as well. But instead of tak­ing an intu­itive gam­ble, make an evidence-based invest­ment in your mar­ket­ing strat­egy by run­ning an A/B test on branding.

As for Albert Lasker, the infor­ma­tive and enter­tain­ing The Man Who Sold Amer­ica: The Amaz­ing Story of Albert Lasker and The Cre­ation of the Adver­tis­ing Cen­tury by Jef­frey L. Cruik­shank runs through the early devel­op­ment of adver­tis­ing met­rics, pre “Mad Men.” Lasker, by the way, is the real-life ver­sion of Don Draper, so pre­pare for a rau­cous, inspir­ing read. The small screen ver­sion pales in comparison.

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