How Does A/B Testing Drive Results?

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What is A/B Testing?

Marketers throw around the phrase “A/B testing” a lot. You think you get the general idea, but is A/B testing really worth the effort? And how does it actually work?

A/B testing is a method for testing one or more variables to determine which is most effective. Businesses commonly use A/B testing for web pages, CTA’s or advertisements. You can perform A/B testing by dedicating periods of time for each test and running them consecutively or you can run both versions simultaneously. When running your test separately, choose a length of time during which you’ll show each variable and track metrics.

Every A/B test starts with a hypothesis, a prediction you create prior to running an experiment. A hypothesis follows the universal scientific method and is made up of three components; the variable, the results and the rationale.


Methods of A/B Testing and Tracking Metrics

If you’re testing conversion rates between your original website home page and a new layout, start with a period of data collection on the original layout. Use website analytics to collect data for the same amount of time that you intend to run a test of your new layout. This ensures you’ll have two data sets that are easy to compare and less likely to have been influenced by outside factors.

If you’re testing two or more completely new variables, run them consecutively for the same length of time. While you can test multiple variables, A/B testing is most effective when you isolate one factor. Your results will then reflect only the difference between that variable.

Another common method of A/B testing is split testing. Split testing runs both versions of your test simultaneously. To do this, you need to divide your audience in half to see which variation performs best. Let’s say you want to test the effectiveness of using a green CTA button on your landing page vs. a red one. You’d set up your landing page to show half of your visitors a green button and the other half red. Split testing is the most effective way to evaluate the success of a hypothesis since it has the least amount of outside variables that can skew the data.

While running your A/B test, it’s vital to track metrics effectively. Ultimately, the most important metric you’ll want to follow is conversion rates, but several other measures can give you greater insight into why one version performs better than the other. Other metrics you can track include time spent on page, scrolling, click through rates, and bounce rates.


Why Use A/B Testing?

A/B testing might sound like a lot of trouble to go through to decide on, say, the color of a CTA button. But minor changes like the layout, color scheme, and font size do impact online conversion rates, and it’s hard to know exactly how. Although your team or outside consultants can use their best judgment to make a call, only your audience can show you how they think and respond.

It’s not efficient to use A/B testing for everything. But once you’ve run some A/B tests, you begin to develop a better understanding of what works for your customers. You can use website analytics from past tests to make better-informed decisions in the future.

A/B testing may also be the best way to optimize content for your brand. Advertisers rarely use only one ad design, especially with online and now social media advertising. Instead, they run ads with different images, wording, and CTA’s. The ads that perform the best are used more frequently or become models for the next ad campaign. The end results of A/B testing are a higher conversion rate and less work to maintain those rates in the future.


How to Implement A/B Testing

If you’ve never done A/B testing in the past, you’re might be wondering how to do A/B testing on a website. The possibilities are endless and dependent on what you need to know from your audience, but common tests address web design layouts, blog post optimization, contact methods and more.

In your website, you can test:

  • Rotating sliders vs. a static page
  • Logo placement
  • Size and font of your site title
  •  Different menu items
  • Color scheme
  • Call to Action Text & Placement
  • Sidebars and footers
  • Much Much More

Content marketing emphasizes the value of the content you provide. But you’ll also need to consider the factors that draw readers to your site and keep them reading. Optimize blog posts by testing:

  •  Headline formatting
  • Subheadings
  •  Image placement and frequency
  •  Call To Action placement

When it comes to contacting your business, everything should be as easy as possible. You don’t want to deter customers from signing up for your email list or letting you know about a concern because your contact forms are confusing or hard to find. Use A/B testing to try:

  • Different fields in your contact form
  • Number of fields in your form
  • Placement of sign-up links or CTAs

When completed with a well-thought-out strategy, A/B testing can increase conversion rates, reduce bounce rates, and give you a clearer picture of your target audience. For more tips on how to improve your marketing efforts, contact our team of professionals today.

Ben LeDonniFebruary 27, 2018by Ben LeDonni