Adventures In A/B Testing: Balluff Explores Its Funny Side

by Michelle McGinnis on Monday, March 7, 2011 in Marketing Measurement

Sometimes a pet project can transform your marketing campaigns.

Case in point: Balluff.

A German brand with a U.S. headquarters in Kentucky, the sensor manufacturer’s typical email campaigns were filled with information on the industry, specs, voltage – “things that don’t exactly light up your day,” Paulina Johnson, Internet Marketing Manager at the company’s U.S. headquarters, told me recently. (Full disclosure: Balluff is an Eloqua client.)

Paulina and her team set out on a pet project to reach a new audience. They wanted to reach channel prospects who had never heard of Balluff, who weren’t even sure how to pronounce the name. “I thought ‘What could we do in the first few seconds that, even if they deleted it, would make it memorable?’” Paulina said.

The team decided to shake things up by creating an email campaign that featured cartoons and used humor to drive brand awareness. But consultants and industry experts had warned Paulina in the past not to go down that road, to stick with facts and logos.

So Paulina’s team put two versions of the campaign through an A/B test, with a stripped down, text-heavy version sent to one group:



And another email that featured a more animated dialogue:

The second email saw not only a higher open rate, but, more importantly to Paulina, a higher click-through rate (30.77% compared to 14.71%).

For Paulina, the experience provided an important lesson. Sometimes it’s good to your gut, as long as you test your assumptions. “It’s not as much about following the current marketing trends, but being creative and adventurous and seeing what works for us as a company,” she said.

As a result, the company is trying new creative concepts, while keeping a steady eye on visible metrics, to enhance its lead management process. For instance, at the beginning of the year Balluff set out a goal to correct gaping holes of their potential strategic account prospect information. Using targeting and segmentation, the company created an “New Year” email campaign that offered a free calendar. By submitting a request via form prospects filled out the missing fields. Within days the campaign “visitor to form conversions rate” reached up to 73%.

According to Paulina, A/B testing provides the opportunity to take small steps and evaluate the impact, and the impact can affect more than just one email marketing campaign.

Has your company been surprised by the results of an A/B test? Have you used A/B testing to challenge long-held assumptions?

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