The title of this post comes from an oft-repeated truism among Conversion Rate Optimization professionals: “testing rules and opinion drools,” or in the words of Google’s Avinash Kaushic: don’t rely on the “HiPPO” (aka, Highest Paid Person’s Opinion) when you can quickly and easily run a split test to get results you can take to the bank.


It’s a lesson that’s I am frequently reminded of while reviewing BoostCTR test results.


Of course there are clear patterns and principles at work, clearly visible when looking at hundreds or even scores of tests — principles that any ad writer is well advised to make use of, and that we try to relate in the “Tips from the Boosters” column.


But when looking at the optimization of any one campaign that has multiple iterations of split tests for review, one also finds insights revealed in the test results that couldn’t have been arrived at through theory alone.


Given multiple possible appeals or persuasive strategies, many of them seemingly equally plausible or convincing, which one, or which combination, will work better? Only a fool would simply guess at this when he has the option to test. And given multiple ways to phrase an appeal, which words and imagery will prove most powerfully persuasive?


For example, in the online dating industry, do people respond more favorably to the idea of psychology and preference-survey-assisted matchmaking? Or to the idea of access to a community of demographically-similar matches? Or to some combination of the two? And which demographic signifiers matter most?


You could guess based on an intuitive hunch, or you could test. Here’s what the tests look like:


So what wins out?


Apparently, access to a community of demographically-similar prospective dates wins out over match-making. And age/maturity/values wins out over socio-economic status or “affluence.”


Now maybe you’re thinking that you could’ve guessed that. And maybe, in this case, you would have. But would you have nearly the confidence in it that you would after seeing these test results and knowing that the winning ads more than doubled CTR?


Also, do you think your intuition would hold up over multiple campaigns? If you do, you’re fooling yourself.


And that’s the point: testing rules — because it provides results you can build on — and opinion drools.


Now, that’s a “Tip from the Boosters” to beat all the others!