There is one type of thing in business where it’s good to see the words ‘religiously’ and ‘vicariously’ in the same sentence.

Normally they might be words of questionable credibility. After all, ‘religiousness’ can sometimes be confused with over zealousness, fanaticism even. Then there’s the notion of living through someone else, like you sometimes hear being levelled at a parent who ‘lives vicariously through her daughter’s sporting achievements’, for example.

When it comes to marketing, however, especially areas of digital marketing like email marketing and web marketing, where conversions via landing pages or listing pages are what counts, there’s an excuse for both the religious and the vicarious. And that excuse is testing.

If you’re lucky enough to be in a volume business where you can see immediately the effects of a change in the customer journey, then you can test practically everything. The subject lines, lengths, action buttons and calls to action of your emails. The headings, processes and wording on your landing pages, product pages, listing pages and detail pages.

All your testing should be through the eyes of your customers, living the awareness-interest-decision-action journey through them, hence the vicarious part.

This is where ‘a/b’ testing comes into its own, where you can test 2 different versions of something like a heading, leave everything the same and see what the response or conversion is like. You can a/b test relentlessly on every element of your communication until you’re happy it’s as good as it can be, by which time you’re probably onto your next communication.

If you’re not in a volume business, then your results can be slower to come around and are not always statistically significant. Your testing has to be more anecdotal, more qualitative. But it can still be regular and rigorous.

Testing is like voting in corrupt countries. Test early and test often. Your business will thank you for it.