What is A/B Testing and How to do it Right
How can you ensure that all the elements of your website, email marketing copy, online ad or any digital marketing strategy is performing at their best? With a useful tool called A/B testing. A/B testing is a great way to identify your weak areas, implement new strategies and evaluate the effectiveness of these changes in the long run. So, what is A/B testing? What are the steps involved? Our Perth SEO team explain in detail.
What is A/B testing?
A/B testing is a marketing experiment designed to test changes in your website content, design, layout, etc. It involves creating two versions of the same campaign, dividing your users into two and showing one of the versions to each group. The experiment will run across a specific period of time, during which user interaction will be analysed to determine which of the versions did better in converting more visitors into customers.
The website visitors or customers are divided into two equal groups –
- Control group – This group gets to view or interact with the existing content or campaign.
- Challenger group – This group sees the version where one variable is changed.
Reasons for A/B testing may vary from one business to another. It is usually done to resolve website interaction issues, improve conversion rate, diminish the bounce rate or determine what’s working for any digital campaign.
Phases in A/B testing
Understanding the processes involved is a crucial part of doing successful A/B testing. A well-structured testing process uncovers the areas in your website that urgently require optimisation and facilitates the implementation of strategies geared to improve traffic and enhance revenue.
Today, digital marketers understand that A/B testing is not something you need to conduct once in a while but rather a systematic and continuous process vital to ensuring the success of your website and digital campaigns. The phases included in the testing activity can be broadly classified as follows.
1. Decide on the feature or variable that you need to test.
You may want to test multiple elements of your website, ad campaign or marketing emails. However, it is advisable to test one element at a time to ensure that the results can be understood and analysed properly. Testing multiple elements can confuse you about which variable contributed more to the outcome. Every marketer must decide what needs to be tested as what is important for a business may not affect another. Here are some of the most common elements tested on a website:
- Call to action text, design or location
- Page Copy
- Image position or relevance
- Product description
- Contact button
- Number of fields in a website form
2. Decide on the timing and length of the test
Most A/B tests run for two weeks to one month. Running the test for a too short period will not be sufficient to measure customer interaction. You must also ensure that both versions are run simultaneously for the results to be accurate. If you run the versions at different times, you may not be able to account for any other variable that might be affecting the results. The only exception to this is if your testing variable is time itself. An example of this would be the time at which promotional emails are sent to customers.
3. Create two versions of what is being tested
Create two versions of the landing page or ad for the control and challenger group. Ensure that you change only one variable for optimum results. You can change and test more than one element at the same time. This testing method is called multivariant testing and works best for sites with a large existing traffic.
4. Run the tests
According to experts, planning your first few tests very carefully is the right step towards doing successful A/B testing. Based on the results of these tests, you can plan further tests more effectively.
Do not be tempted to make changes in the middle of the testing period. For this process to work as expected and provide reliable data, it must be allowed to run its course. Disrupting or editing it midway can skew the entire results.
5. Evaluate results and employ changes
Once the testing process has been completed, you need to analyse your results meticulously. This involves the assessment of metrics and how much the changes have contributed to improving traffic, engagement and sales. You can then integrate these successful changes into your website. If the results were inconclusive, reset the variables for another round of A/B tests. Once you are happy with the results, determine the next variable to be tested and create suitable versions.
Optimisation techniques you employ based on the results of A/B testing will go a long way in enhancing the efficacy of all your online promotional campaigns. After all, when you spend considerable sums to attract targeted traffic, it makes perfect sense to invest in optimisation techniques that guarantee a better user experience for your customers.
Now that you know what an A/B testing is and how to do a successful one, you can design one for your website. Remember that this is a general guideline – every business is different, and a combination of variables go into making a digital marketing campaign that is unique to your business. Evaluate the bigger picture rather than measuring the effect of your changes merely at the page level. Not sure where to begin? Are your A/B tests not giving the expected results? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get help right away!
Multivariate testing – Also called multi-variable testing, it is the method of testing different versions of multiple variables on your website at the same time.
Call to action – A prompt on your website to guide the visitor to take the next action. Examples are – Buy Now, Read more, Click here.
Landing page – A page that a visitor lands on by clicking a link from a search result, ad or email etc., generally created specifically for a marketing campaign.