Whether you need retargeting support or a new CRM partner, these days there are many options to choose from. The goal is to find the best fit for your brand and product that can provide the best possible results to then reach your mobile growth goals. 

Finding out what partner can provide the highest number of conversions, creating the most value for your brand, can be a major challenge to marketers. Conducting a head to head test is the best solution for this problem, making it integral for the success of your business. Head to head testing is essentially pitting two partners against each other in order to see which provider can produce the optimal results based on specific growth goals set. Utilizing a head to head method is key to finding the right marketing partner for your business, while executing this test in the right way can have its own set of challenges, it is equally as important as the results.

Why Run a Head to Head Test?

Vet new partners:

If retargeting is a new initiative left unexplored until now, it might seem overwhelming to start this process with not only one, but two separate partners. While education and understanding what capabilities are beneficial for your business should come first, as soon as you are comfortable with the retargeting campaign process, along with audience targets and campaign goals, there is no better time to shop around to find the partner who will meet your goals. Some partners can offer you education and be your go to resource by sharing articles, having detailed onboarding calls to discover your true goals, and taking that a step further to develop a custom strategy and support outline. This resource can benefit your initial mobile growth strategy, by vetting to get started with the right retargeting partner from the very launch of your retargeting program.

Find the right fit: 

Performing the head to head method is a great way to vet out which partner will drive the highest amount of revenue for your business. With so many options of marketing partners out there, finding the right fit isn’t always easy. While current partners may be reaching some of your growth goals, the potential for even better performance can only be realized by running a head to head test to fairly compare mobile retargeting performance. Beyond performance results, taking into account strategic support, reporting metrics, accessibility to high value audience segments and customizable creatives should also be top of mind when considering why a new partner should be tested alongside a current solution provider. Running a test with multiple vendors gives you the opportunity to see a side by side comparison of  the results your team is looking for. 

The head to head method is also a great way to take advantage of different offerings each vendor can provide and to see what types of creatives and optimizations are working best for that campaign. With so many types of industries and campaigns, finding a partner that can not only deliver on results but also on capabilities, reporting, metrics, access to ad placement and many other offerings specific to each vendor is another reason to consider this head to head testing strategy.

When Should I Consider Testing New Partners?

Whether you’ve been running retargeting campaigns with a partner for a long time or you’ve just onboarded a new partner, any time is the right time to push solution providers to execute at their highest potential. While timelines, pre-set budgets and the internal onboarding process for new partners could initially influence the decision of testing with a new retargeting partner, now is always the right time to reach your goals. If you hold off on considering this as an alternate solution, money could be left on the table. After all, each marketer has goals to hit and retargeting solution providers are here to be an extension of your team, supporting and delivering as much value as possible to brands and businesses. 

Based on your internal timeline of budget allocation, the cycle of onboarding a new partner to test with should be started as soon as possible. Start having the initial vetting conversations with potential retargeting partners to learn their track record, capabilities and results they have been able to achieve as soon as you can. Discussing the head to head testing method with a current partner and potential new partner should happen during the first call. However, if your media spend is not yet stable, it might not be the best time to run this type of testing. Make sure you are at a steady place with your budget and spend. 

Once you’ve decided it's time to start testing new partners, there are a lot of things to keep in mind when running a head to head test. Among the most important are determining metrics, budget and timeline to then execute a fair test with both partners. Keep in mind all areas of the test should be the same as to be able to correctly compare a true side by side. Below we outline the top three tips for running a successful marketing partner test to keep in mind.  

3 Tips for Executing the Head to Head Testing Method

Tip 1 - Select your metrics

It is important to figure out what Key Performance Indicators (or KPIs) you are looking for prior to running a head to head test. A KPI is a measurable metric that demonstrates how well a company is performing against its key business objectives and priorities. Having defined KPIs helps you see patterns in your strategies and make informed decisions based on those numbers. Setting up defined suppression lists is also a crucial step when it comes to defining metrics. These are users that you do not want to be targeted in this specific campaign. Think about exactly what is the main goal of your campaign (and this test) and what should be tracked to achieve that goal  before starting. 

Making sure that these metrics are the same for both partners you’re testing out is essential to a successful experiment. For example, if you are running a gaming retargeting campaign, you may want to define one KPI as users purchasing in-app tokens or “lives” and test that with both partners to see who performs better. Whereas in a fitness app campaign you may want to focus on users who have not gotten past the “free trial stage” and drive them to purchase a subscription. Regardless of the KPI, it is integral that they remain the same during the head to head method and are chosen with your end goal in mind.

Tip 2 - Same Timeline and Budget

Now that you have defined your KPIs, it is crucial to establish your budget and keep it the same with both partners. Having an established budget before launching with both partners helps when you are setting up the campaign details with each partner. If feedback of your requested pricing is within the suggested range, then you have accurately analyzed the investment for campaign details. If feedback from partners is that the budget you have suggested is too small or out of normal range for your goals, applying this to your internal budgeting decisions should be the next step. While running the head to head test, make sure you are analyzing daily, weekly and monthly spend for each partner from the budget you allocated. This will help you to develop a cost expectation  going forward.

Once the budget is accurately and appropriately decided, figuring out the length of the test should be next. Timeline of both campaigns should be side by side, or running at the same time. In order to see real results, you must allow the campaigns to run for at least 4 weeks. It is also not wise to have the test run for too long as you could lose valuable users. 

Certain times of year drive higher user engagement than others. For example, if you are running a test on your shopping app and you run one partner's test during the busy holiday season in December and the other in January when that spike has worn off, the results cannot be compared fairly. You need to start both campaigns around the same time (ideally no more than a few weeks apart) in order for the test to be completely fair. 

Tip 3 - Ask the right questions

In a head to head test, each vendor could have different and unique offers to take advantage of. Research and prepare questions ahead of time that are the same for all partners you are talking to. If you are interested in location targeting then it is important to learn the reach your partners can provide. If you need clarity in any area from campaign set up to audience targeting or optimization techniques, to have those questions answered before you begin working with that particular vendor is ideal. The head to head method is extremely beneficial because you can get the opportunity to see what types of support you can receive from a vendor that you might not have in-house. 

Takeaways on the Head to Head Testing Method

The head to head testing method can take time to accurately compare and analyze. However, the value of this process over choosing any partner is an extremely important step to find the best fit for your company. A head to head test with multiple partners should happen quickly – start having those conversations now so that you can begin running campaigns with your ideal match. 

  • Carefully selecting metrics: It is important to figure out what Key Performance Indicators (or KPIs) you are looking for prior to running a head to head test. Having defined KPIs helps you see patterns in your strategies and make informed decisions based on those numbers. Thinking about exactly what you are tracking and what is the main goal of this test before starting is key. 
  • Consistent timing and budget: Having the same budget and timeline for both potential partners is another key step in running a successful head to head test. Having an established budget before speaking with both partners helps you get a sense of whether they will be in your ballpark of pricing or if they are out of your range. Additionally, making sure that there is consistency in timing of both campaigns is also key. Certain times of year drive higher user engagement than others, for example over the busy holiday season.
  • Asking the right questions: Lastly, asking the right questions prior to the test beginning is crucial. Your team can take advantage of the different and unique offers that vendors can provide during a head to head test. Research and prepare questions ahead of time that are the same for all partners you are talking to. 


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