Benefits of Website A/B Testing
The beauty of digital marketing is that it is flexible and agile compared to other marketing tactics like printed materials or billboards. You aren’t locked into one headline the way you are if you’ve just spent a lot of money and printed thousands of brochures.
The problem is, too many companies create a website and leave it. Companies and their marketing agencies design and develop websites, emails, and ads based on best practices. However, how do you really know what works best if you only pick one option and run with it? You don’t, which is why all companies, big or small, should learn the benefits of website A/B testing and begin optimizing their digital marketing.
What is A/B Testing?
Let’s start with a simple definition. According to VWO, “A/B testing (sometimes called split testing) is comparing two versions of a web page to see which one performs better. You compare two web pages by showing the two variants (let’s call them A and B) to similar visitors at the same time. The one that gives a better conversion rate wins!” The same goes for emails and digital ads.
Depending on your goals, you can test headlines, subheadlines, paragraph copy, calls to action, images, and more.
Why A/B Test?
Companies should A/B test websites, emails, and digital ads for a simple reason – to take out the guesswork! If you have evidence to prove what works and what doesn’t, you’ll not only grow the business, but you’ll also have knowledge to make decisions when creating new marketing materials down the road. Just remember, trends always change and something that was effective a year ago won’t always be, so it’s important to keep testing.
A/B testing is a fairly cheap and easy way to continue making improvements to your digital marketing. Many businesses spend thousands of dollars and months on research, focus groups, and creating personas prior to launching a new website. This upfront research is crucial, so think of A/B testing as a way to continue validating decisions on your website. In the long run, the ROI can be huge because the cost to test is relatively small but can result in significant increases in leads, sales, and revenue.
What makes a good A/B test?
In the grand scheme of things, A/B testing is a fairly quick and easy way to figure out what’s working and what’s not. However, don’t just test for the sake of testing. To really reap the benefits of website A/B testing, there should be strategy and planning involved.
- Start with a goal. What do you want the user to do? Click a button? Sign up for a free trial? Buy a product? Make sure you know what you’re measuring before you create a variation.
- Generate a hypothesis. Once you have a goal, it will be easier to identify logical things to test and come up with the expected impact.
- Generate and run the test. You’ll keep the control version as is, implement a B variation, and execute the test. The duration of the test depends mainly on the amount of traffic to your website.
- Analyze results and come to a conclusion. Once you have determined the test has reached a significant enough audience, you’ll be able to see which variation performed best and if it was statistically significant.
- Determine next steps. You’ll want to implement the variation that performed best and identify other elements to test to continue increasing conversions.
“Don’t just test for the sake of testing. To really reap the benefits of website A/B testing, there should be strategy and planning involved.”
Some other things to keep in mind when A/B testing:
- Only test one thing at a time, otherwise you won’t know which element truly increased conversions.
- Test points closest to the conversion, which will have the biggest impact. For example, testing the messaging on a “sign up” button will likely be more effective than a secondary link far down on the homepage.
- You can test things big and small, as long as you think it will have an impact.
- There might not always be a significant result, and that’s ok. You should also analyze secondary metrics, like bounce rate, pages/session, and session duration to see if there is any variety to indicate success.
- Use A/B testing software to implement and measure the test. This will make your life a lot easier.
You may be sold on the idea of A/B testing but have no idea how to do it. Before you even start an A/B test, it’s a great idea to use tools like Google Analytics, Clicky, or other web analytics platforms to look at your existing data. This will help you determine goals and hypotheses for A/B tests.
Luckily, there’s software there that specializes in testing and optimizing. A few examples include Optimizely, Google Optimize, Visual Website Optimizer (VWO), and KISSmetrics. Software ranges in price and features, so it’s important to select based on your current and future needs.
Sold on the Benefits of Website A/B testing?
If you’re ready to start some A/B testing in your digital marketing, we’d be more than happy to partner with you to put together and execute a plan.