customer experience marketing message on hold

Crafting Effective On-Hold Messaging: The Role of A/B Testing 

Original Article “Think Like a Marketer: A/B Test Your Message on Hold Program” by Juli Durante, published June 18, 2013

Is your Message On Hold program as effective as it could be? How can you be sure? If you haven’t experimented with A/B testing, you might be overlooking an opportunity to refine your on-hold marketing content and drive better results. 

What is A/B Testing? 

Marketers continually refine their content through testing variations. A commonly used method is A/B testing or multivariate testing. 

In an A/B Test, only one element differs between Version A and Version B. For instance, a call-to-action button on a website might be blue in Version A and green in Version B, while the text remains consistent. The version that receives more clicks “wins” the test. 

Multivariate testing involves changing multiple elements between versions, such as different colors and texts for call-to-action buttons. While more complex, it can yield valuable insights and sometimes outperform A/B testing. 

Applying Testing to Your Message On Hold Program 

After implementing a Message On Hold program, many businesses leave it untouched on their phone systems for long stretches of time – to the point where they may even forget about it. But by doing so, these businesses miss out on opportunities to engage callers effectively. Here are some ways to apply marketing testing to your on-hold programming

  1. Testing Your Callers’ Background Music Preferences: When initially crafting an on-hold program, many businesses seem unsure what type of background music will resonate most with their callers. While the actual recorded content of your Message On Hold program takes precedence over the accompanying musical elements, the genre of the background music you select can certainly have a positive or negative impact on your callers. Perhaps you’re torn between two distinct genres. So how can you be sure your music selection has a favorable impression on callers? This is where A/B testing can be applied. Have your audio marketing provider create two versions of your on-hold program with different music genres but identical content. Rotate these versions monthly on a 4-month basis and collect feedback from your customers to determine their preferences. 
  1. Generic vs. Seasonal Content: Crafting an effective Message On Hold program requires balancing generic and seasonal content to keep callers engaged. While generic information (your business hours, address, website) offers essential year-round details, seasonal promotions can provide a timely and personalized touch. Testing these types of content allows you to understand caller preferences. Start by creating two versions — one with generic information and the other highlighting seasonal promotions — and rotate them periodically. Gather feedback through caller surveys to assess effectiveness and adjust your program accordingly. Incorporating a blend of generic and seasonal content ensures relevance and engagement year-round. 
  1. Fine-Tuning the Length of Your Message On Hold: The length of your on-hold program directly influences caller satisfaction. Too much music or information can lead to frustration, while too little may result in disinterest. Experimenting with different lengths allows you to strike the perfect balance and keep callers attentive. Create variations of your on-hold program with different music intervals or varying amounts of informational content. Utilize surveys to gather feedback from callers regarding their preferences. By making appropriate adjustments, you can tailor the on-hold experience to better suit your audience’s preferences.
  1. Survey Your Staff: Involve your staff – especially those who interact with customers over the phone – in the content and music selection process. Gather their feedback on which version in the A/B testing they find more beneficial to customers. 

Looking to implement A/B testing to ensure your Message On Hold program aligns with caller expectations and achieves overall satisfaction? Contact us to learn more. 

Key Takeaways: 

  1. A/B testing to determine which background music genre resonates most with your callers. Rotate between two versions of your Message On Hold program with different music genres and gather feedback to identify preferences. 
  2. Strive for a balance between generic information and seasonal promotions in your Message On Hold program. Test different content types to understand caller preferences and maintain engagement year-round. 
  3. Experiment with varying program lengths to keep callers attentive and satisfied. Gather feedback through surveys to determine the ideal balance of music and information for your audience. 
  4. Engage your staff in the content and music selection process, especially those who interact with customers over the phone. Their insights can provide valuable perspectives on enhancing the on-hold experience. 
  5. By implementing A/B testing and incorporating feedback from both callers and staff, you can refine your Message On Hold program to better meet caller expectations, enhance engagement, and ultimately improve overall satisfaction. 


1. What is A/B testing and how does it apply to Message On Hold programs? 

A/B testing involves comparing two versions of a marketing element to determine which one performs better. In the context of Message On Hold programs, A/B testing allows businesses to experiment with different content variations, such as background music genres or types of promotional messages, to identify which resonates more with callers. 

2. How often should I rotate between different versions of my Message On Hold program during A/B testing? 

The frequency of rotation between different versions of your Message On Hold program can vary depending on factors such as caller volume and seasonality. However, a common approach is to rotate between versions monthly or quarterly to gather a diverse range of caller feedback and insights. 

3. What are the benefits of balancing generic and seasonal content in a Message On Hold program? 

Balancing generic and seasonal content ensures that callers receive relevant and timely information while also maintaining interest and engagement throughout the year. Generic content provides essential year-round details about your business, while seasonal promotions add a personalized touch and capitalize on specific periods of increased interest or purchasing behavior. 

4. How can I determine the ideal program length for my Message On Hold system? 

Determining the ideal program length involves experimentation and gathering feedback from callers. Start by creating variations of your Message On Hold program with different lengths, then utilize surveys to assess caller preferences and satisfaction levels. Adjust the program length based on feedback to strike the perfect balance between keeping callers attentive and avoiding frustration. 

5. Should I involve my staff in the A/B testing process for Message On Hold programs? 

Involving staff, especially those who interact with customers over the phone, can provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of different Message On Hold program variations. Their firsthand experience with caller interactions can help identify which version of the program is more beneficial to customers and aligns better with the overall customer service strategy. 

6. How can I get started with A/B testing for my Message On Hold program? 

Work with your audio marketing provider to create two versions of your program with different content variations. Rotate between these versions periodically and gather feedback from callers through surveys or direct inquiries. Use the insights gained to refine and optimize your Message On Hold program for improved caller satisfaction and engagement. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *