A/B Testing is not the most widespread tool known to business and website owners, but it is one of the most useful. Whether you work in the corporate world, are an advertiser, or are just getting your foot in the “marketing door”, this technique is one of the best that you’ll find out there. It is something that anyone who is concerned about their traffic, their time, their money, and their business should be paying attention to. This article gives an introduction to A/B testing and includes some of the most important things to remember on your journey to success.
A/B Testing – Neat or Lame?
Totally neat, and I’ll tell you why. It compares two things (A and B for those who may not have already figured that out) and tells you which option will be better for your site and your business. Of course it is not merely limited to two variables, but we’re keeping it simple here for now. Based on where you want to go with your site, you can test pretty much anything from image placement, sign up forms, meta descriptions, to even price comparisons. It really depends on what you want your site to convey and what your purpose is. If you want people to sign up for your site, you can compare two different methods to entice them to do so, and running an A/B test will tell you which option will yield superior results (and we all like being superior).
Patience, Patience, Patience.
A test that runs for too long is usually not a good thing, but a bit of patience is necessary when running an A/B test. Considering the amount of variables you’re considering, testing them over an extended amount of time is generally a good plan. It’s important to gather a substantial amount of data in order to draw a conclusion as to which of your tested variables is the “winner” – this takes some time, so be patient.
How does it work?
A/B testing has to be consistent for the user on your site – if you are testing a green button against a red button for a sign up page, the change in color can be detrimental to the focus of your experimental group of visitors. Make sure that if you decide to A/B test a variable that occurs across multiple pages, the user always gets the same variation. For example, say Bob gets web page B, and Rosie gets web page A, then they should continue to get the same variation all the way through the site. If it switches up and Bob ends up on Rosie’s side, he’s going to be very confused as to why everything looks different, and vice versa. That won’t help your testing at all.
When done right, A/B testing will tell you which version of whatever your testing does better among your test group.
What can I test?
Almost everything you have on your website, but some of the big ones are:
- Content near the fold
- Paragraph text
And much, much more!
I thought you said something about conversion rates?
So I did!
A/B testing is not just for big colorful buttons, although I do like that analogy. A/B testing also tracks and monitors your visitors and lets you know what they’re up to. If you can find some way to optimize what they seem to gravitate towards more, you can view how their activity affects the conversion rate of your users.
In this next analogy I will say that the green website is doing better than the blue website. So you decide to go with the green colors, and test it again. Same results. Your conversion rate goes up from, say, 20% to 26%, which is pretty good, you think, and you decide to stop there and make green websites forever.
Well, that’s not the best idea.
You need to keep testing – a positive and another positive is definitely more positives for you. You can do better than 6%, I believe in you! Keep looking for a way to make it even better. Keep trying new things and improving. That’s exactly what A/B testing is for.
How much is this going to cost me?
Not much. A/B testing is actually really cost-efficient. It’s a great comparative tool to have at your fingertips if you have the patience for it.
Where can I check this out?
I’m glad you asked good sir and/or madam! There are many sites that you can use for this sort of thing.
Google Analytics is reputable and a good name, as usual, because it’s Google. There are also a good amount of articles and tools you can use within Google Analytics that are not just limited to A/B testing, but a plethora of other tools that will be helpful for you and your site. To learn more about how you can use Google Analytics for A/B testing, click here.
Unbounce is a site that can help you create pages for your site, like landing pages, and has some great information on it. They also have helpful videos on their site to get you going. If you’re just getting started on your site, this is also a good place to get your foot in the door, with the help of a good host.
Optimizely is one of the best A/B tools around. Even better, you get a free month trial for your money’s worth so you can see the results before you buy. It may cost you a little bit more, but in the long run, if you’re really serious about your business, it is a great help.
- Visual Website Optimizer is an easy A/B testing tool that allows you to create different versions of your website and landing pages using a simple editor that requires no HTML knowledge. Once you’ve created the different versions, looking at the analytics to determine which one produces the highest conversion rate.
And there you are! You know that everything grows with improvement, and that most things in life do need to be improved. You can grab that improvement with your own bare hands and wrangle it into your own terms, and A/B testing will help with that.
Have you ever used A/B testing? How much did it help your business or site? Let us know in the comments.