The importance of crummy tests


A new client recently told me he wanted to increase the volume and velocity of our crummy tests.

But he wasn’t commenting on the quality of our work. Rather, he was excited that we were able to conceive, build and launch tests quickly, assess and measure their value, and either expand on them or drop it.

Whether you’re a lean start-up or an enterprise marketing team, crummy tests (by this definition) are the lifeblood of your ability to innovate and continue driving value in a crowded market. By definitely they aren’t as thought out as they could be, but if you test small and mitigate risk, you’ll learn something more quickly and effectively that can make the next crummy test far more likely to succeed.

The marketing world is changing too fast to ignore this. Take Pinterest, for example. Does it make sense for you? Are you going to find out by spending weeks planning an integrated campaign that’s been reviewed and approved by every possible decision-maker in your organization, or will you take half a day to get something launched and see if it sticks?

If it works, great, try and scale it. And if it still works, invest the time necessary to make it a sustainable, integrated part of your marketing mix.

But most marketing tests fail. At least half do – because by definition, if you’re A/B testing, B is always wrong (you’re just trying to figure out which version B is). And when you’re testing or doing crummy tests, identifying what doesn’t work is often just as important as discovering what does work.

This can be difficult for some marketers to put into practice. But perfect can be the enemy of good.