It is crucial to optimize your marketing efforts in order to get more traffic to your website and ultimately get more conversions.
Saying you need to improve your website is easy, but how do you do that, and how do you know what changes to make? The answer to that question lies in testing, which provides actionable information that helps you make data-driven decisions.
One relatively simple method that still provides valuable data is A/B Testing.
What is A/B testing?
A/B testing is a randomized experiment where you compare two variants, variant A and variant B, against one another.
A common way to do this test for search engine optimization is to set your existing page as the A variable and a slightly different version of that page as the B. You would then see how the change you made impacted whatever metrics you are collecting.
The important thing to keep in mind is that you want to test one thing at a time. If your B page had a 10% increase in conversions after adding a new image and a new headline, you wouldn’t be sure which change caused it. Instead, you could do two different tests for these changes to make the most informed decisions possible.
Benefits of A/B testing
A/B testing is a great way to get informed data about how people interact with your website.
You might conduct an A/B test that shows a small change that leads to a 3% conversion rate on the original website. This doesn’t seem like a massive improvement, but as you continue to conduct tests and make changes, the effects will compound over time as your website continually improves.
And the great thing is that the changes you are testing can be incredibly simple. For instance, adding one word to a headline or changing the color of a button can actually drive some surprising results.
Things to try in your A/B testing
With the number of emails you can send relatively easily, this is a great option to try out. There are a variety of things you could try, including:
- Subject Line: This is the most important part of an email, and a well-written subject line could provide a massive boost in conversions.
- Calls to action: Which call to action brings you the most clicks? Should it be at the start, middle or end of the email? A/B testing can tell you how your customers respond.
- Length: Your audience might respond best to a short email that is to the point, or they might be looking for something longer that provides a little more information. There is no way to know for sure unless you test for it.
Consider playing around with the images on your website. Change the location of an image, change the image itself, or even remove the image altogether. You might think you know what is best for conversions, but testing will provide the truth.
The content on your website is massively important, and you can test it as well. Some testing options could include:
- Tone: The audience you have in mind when writing your content might not be who is actually visiting your website. Try writing the same things with a different tone to see if that has an impact.
- Medium: If your website traditionally creates one type of content, switch things up! Try making a video, infographic or blog post to see if conveying the information differently drives conversions.
- Formatting: Don’t just test the content; test out how it is formatted. Use bulleted lists, different headers and spacing to gather data about how your users respond.
Google Ads, banner ads, social media ads and more all provide opportunities for you to refine your strategy. Just like with content, the only limit on the things you can test is your creativity. It is important to keep in mind what metrics you are collecting; maybe you want a higher click-through-rate, or perhaps you want more conversions.
How A/B tests work
Before you begin to actually test, you should consider what it is you are trying to achieve.
What metric will you be measuring? Do you want more clicks, traffic, or conversions?
This is important to keep in mind throughout the testing. After doing this, you identify a change that you can test for and set a control to test against. You can then decide how long you want to run the test and begin.
Of course, you can get more in-depth in the pre-testing process, but these are good basics to begin with.
Say you’ve decided to test a new subject line on your latest email campaign. In order to conduct the test, you send half of your audience an email with your A subject line and the other half of the people an email with the B subject line. You would then measure the engagement of your customers based on the version of the email sent to them.
In another example, you could decide that you want to test the placement of a ‘contact us’ button on your home page. Half of the visitors to the page would see the button in the original location, while the other half would see the button in the new location. One easy way to do A/B testing on your website is directly in Google Analytics, but there are a variety of other tools and plugins for content management systems that could work as well.
A/B testing mistakes
Testing more than one thing at a time
As we mentioned before, you should perform A/B testing with one alteration per test. Any more than that, and it will be impossible to decipher which change had an effect on the results. If you want to test multiple elements, perform another A/B test, or choose an alternative method that would better suit your needs.
Ending the test early
As is the case with any dataset, the more you have, the better it is. A/B tests that run for a more extended period of time can gather significant, valuable data that you can make insights from. It is important to note that you shouldn’t run the test for an excessive amount of time either. If you create a second web page for testing, you should use a 301 redirect back to the original page after the testing is done so Google doesn’t drop your rankings for duplicate content.
Your test might have results that contradict your hypothesis – and that is okay. Issues begin to arise if you ignore the results and stick with your initial opinion because you think you know better than the data and your customers. Failing to act on the things you have learned from your test can prevent you from seeing the increase in conversions you were initially hoping for.
A/B testing is a relatively simple yet extremely effective way to test changes in your marketing efforts. By gathering data about how people respond to the small changes you make, you can make worthwhile, data-driven decisions to improve your website and entire marketing strategy. Try out A/B testing the next time you are considering an edit to your website!