Faster Split Testing with Text Message Marketing | MMA Global

Faster Split Testing with Text Message Marketing

December 5, 2012

Marketing is both an art and a science. Nowhere is this more evident than in split testing—a scientific approach to the art of advertising.

Split (or A/B) testing is a tried and true method to optimize the strength of your marketing campaign. It’s a simple experiment: two approaches are measured against each other to determine which is most effective.

Traditional split testing can be impractical, expensive, and take months for conclusive results. With text message marketing, split tests can be run at a fraction of the cost and yield almost immediate results.

What is A/B Split Testing?

Unfamiliar with split testing? It’s easy to understand. Here’s how it works:

Two creatives are developed, essentially the same except for one element: the variable. This is what you’re measuring. The variable can be almost anything: the offer advertised, the graphic style, the language used, etc. Be sure that the other elements are controlled: you can still gather valuable info with multiple variables, but it will be difficult to tell what’s making the difference.

Next, the two creatives are given equal exposure. The promotion that generates more of the desired action (e.g. sales, walk-ins, contacts) is the more effective advertisement. The lesson learned can be implemented in future marketing ventures.

Split Testing via Text Messaging

Traditional split testing can still be a challenge for many companies: metrics are difficult to calculate, costs are significant, and results can take months to ascertain.

Split tests conducted with text message marketing, however, provide companies with exact figures, low overhead costs, and instantaneous results.

Let’s see how simple it is to split test with texts.

How it Works

ShoeBux is a (fictional) footwear company looking to step up its marketing efforts. They plan to promote an attractive discounts to drive sales, but they’re not sure which discount is most effective: a $10 discount costs the company slightly less than a 20% discount (with a minimum purchase of $50), but would the 20% bring in more customers and, ultimately, more profit?

So, they  develop two creatives with different discounts and assign a text keyword to each:

Coupon 1:

Save some bucks with ShoeBux! 
Text “SBUX1” to 555888
for $10 off your next purchase!

Coupon 2:

Save some bucks with ShoeBux! 
Text “SBUX2” to 555888
for 20% off your next purchase!

Customers who text the keyword instantly receive a text coupon in response:

“ShoeBux Coupon: 20% off your next purchase (of at least $50). Present this text to the cashier to redeem your deal! Exp 7/29, 1 per #”

“ShoeBux Coupon: $10 off your next purchase (of at least $50). Present this text to cashier to redeem your deal! Exp 7/29, 1 per #”

As the texts start pouring in, ShoeBux can easily and instantly analyze which discount is more powerful.

Results: 250 people opt for Coupon 2, but over 400 people have opted for Coupon 1!

ShoeBux has discovered that the $10 coupons, in addition to costing the company less, will actually bring in more customers than the more expensive 20% coupon!

When they lay out their big new promotions their ads will be better targetedmore effective, and more profitable.

But that’s not all: if they give a heads-up beforehand, ShoeBux can use the customer contacts collected for future promotions to keep consumers coming back! This translates into significantly more business and more profit for ShoeBux. 

How You Can Do It

To run a successful split test via text, you really only need 3 components: an incentive, a variable, and a creative. Let’s take a quick look at each.


Give your audience an incentive to interact with your company by text. Here are a few great ways to get your customers texting:

  • Coupons: Who doesn’t love a discount? Text coupons are a quick and easy way for your customers to save and your business to profit.
  • Exclusive Content: Give your most loyal customers access to your content first.
  • Sweepstakes:One of the best ways for a brand to involve consumers, a giveaway may entice the most customers to interact.  


Next, you’ve got to decide what element you’ll be testing. There are many variables to split test with texting, but remember to only try one at a time.

  • Offer: As ShoeBux did in our example, test different discount offers to see which is most effective (e.g. $10 off vs. 20% off).
  • Graphics: Unsure what aesthetic is right for your market? Try different visual styles and find what your customers respond to (e.g. bright and loud vs. muted and minimalist).
  • Placement: Find out where your ads go farther. Use identical ads, but place them in different spots to discover where you can get the most traffic (e.g. magazine vs. newspaper).


Now all you need are the creatives you’ll be testing. Remember to assign each creative a differentkeyword so you can compare and analyze the results. Along with the variable, the keyword should be the only thing that changes between creatives.

Advantages of Split Testing via Texting

Split testing has been a classic marketing strategy for decades. Text marketing takes the same approach into the 21st century, offering several advantages over traditional testing.

  • Immediate. Did you know 90% of texts are read within 3 minutes? And it only takes a few seconds for customers to text your keyword. Consumers will be interacting with your company instantaneously, and you’ll know the moment they do.
  • Inexpensive. SMS marketing is an extremely economic solution. Many providers offer a free trial to test it out. Even after that, the prices are extremely affordable.
  • Contacts. If you inform customers beforehand with a note on your creatives, you can continue to use their contacts long after the testing period is over. Keep consumers coming back for months with just a few discreet texts.
This article originally appeared on SocialMediaToday.

Alek Grinberg is the co-founder of SimpleTexting, an SMS marketing platform that enables companies and organizations to send text message campaigns, and a thought-leader in the mobile marketing industry.