The ABCs Of A/B Testing

Have you ever wondered if a red or a green call-to-action button would deliver better results or what length a signup form should be to get more people to sign up?

If you have, A/B testing is exactly what you need to be able to optimize your website (and also your marketing emails and ads).

If you haven’t found yourself wondering whether a red or green call-to-action would be better, just know that even the tiniest change to your website can drive significant results.

When email marketing company GetResponse added a ‘Free Trial” CTA to their already existing ‘Buy Now’ CTA, conversions increased by 158.6%.

It did so with influencing their paid accounts at all. You can find examples like this all over.

What Is A/B Testing?

In a nutshell, A/B testing (also known as split testing) is an experiment to determine which aspect of your website (or emails or ads) converts better. A/B testing is all about optimizing your website and is the most widely used tool used to improve conversions.

When you increase your conversions, you increase your bottom line. At the end of the day, businesses gain a competitive edge when they are data-driven – when they take time to measure what’s working and what’s not and to alter accordingly.

Not only businesses should be staying on top of their website’s analytics like traffic – read this guide to mastering Google Analytics – but they should also be testing specific aspects of their website to ensure that it’s as effective as it could be.

72% of online retailers test their call-to-action buttons, and you should be, too.

A/B testing can be used to test everything from different aspects of your website (such as landing pages and copy) to emails to search ads. It can be as simple as testing a headline.

What To Test

A/B testing can be used to test any number of things, but what you decide to test will ultimately depend on your own goals.

Remember that time is always money, which means you don’t want to spend time measuring things that are only going to have a small impact on your website. In short, you want to use A/B testing to measure things that are going to have a large impact. Here are some examples:

  • Website: headline, layout
  • Call to Actions: their wording, size, colour and placement
  • Forms/Sign Up Sheets: length, types of fields
  • Landing Pages: images
  • Product Pages: headline, product description, images
  • Promotional Offers, Emails and Facebook Ads

Benefits Of A/B Testing

1. Increase Your Conversions (And Your Bottom Line)

The major benefit of A/B testing is that, when done correctly and consistently, you can increase your conversions. QuickSprout conducts an A/B test every two weeks. ¼ of their tests increases their conversions by 20%.

As such, A/B testing can substantially increase your bottom line. Remember, however, that things change over time, which means that you have to continue to conduct A/B tests over the long-term.

2. Maximize Your ROI

A/B maximizes your return on investment as it ensures that you are choosing the best version of whatever it is you’re testing.

If you are allocating a certain amount of money toward ad money every month, for example, A/B testing can ensure that you’re maximizing your spending and getting the most bang for your buck.

3. Get Data-Driven Results From Any Website Changes

Thinking about making a layout change to your website for aesthetic reasons but aren’t sure if they will affect conversions? Again, that’s the great thing about A/B testing – you can optimize virtually any aspect of your website and ensure that you’re making the right decision.

How A/B Testing Works

There are several different ways that someone can go about A/B testing depending upon their experience with it. However, the most basic form of A/B testing goes like this. Let’s say, for example, that you were testing your current green call-to-action against a red one.

The green call-to-action (called the control) is measured against the red one (the variation or treatment). Half of your traffic will see the green call-to-action and half will see the red one.

Engagement will be measured through the tool of your choice (more on this below) and analyzed.

You can also test two entirely new call-to-actions against each other. Whatever the outcome is, however, you need to ensure the winner outperforms your current call-to-action.

What’s interesting about A/B testing is that the results are often surprising.

How To Create An A/B Test

A/B testing takes time, but it is worth the time you spend on it. Here’s a broad overview of creating an A/B test.

1. Figure Out Your Goals

The first step to creating an A/B testing is deciding what you want to test. If you’re unsure, you can take a look at your analytics on Google Analytics and determine what pages are not converting well.

If you decide to test your landing page, you then have to determine which variables you want to test. Perhaps you want to test which images are delivering the best results.

It is imperative to test one variable at a time instead of multiple things at once. Otherwise, you won’t be able to determine which caused the conversions. If you’re testing your landing pages, you want to test the images first and then choose another aspect to test at a later date.

Note that there are tests out there that allow you to test two things simultaneously – perhaps a headline and a call-to-action and how these perform together. This is called a multivariate test, but it is out of the scope of this article.

Keep in mind that the tests need to run at the same time for the results to be accurate. This ensures that any outside variables are kept the same.

If you ran a test on a day where you were having a sale and ran the second test the next week when there wasn’t a sale, that outside variable – the sale – would be skewing the results and the results of your test wouldn’t be accurate.

2. Choose An A/B Tool And Run The Experiment

Choose your choice of A/B testing tool such as the Google Website Optimizer and run the experiment. This is a free testing tool from Google. It lacks more advanced features but is a great option for those just starting out.

It is important to ensure that you don’t end the test too quickly or let it run too long, otherwise, your results will not be accurate. We will discuss this in a bit more detail below.

3. Analyze The Results

Your A/B tool or software will typically show you how the two performed and whether the results were statistically significant and not due to random chance.

As we mentioned above, the results of A/B tests are often surprising and conflict with traditional beliefs. Even if the results conflict with your own beliefs or aesthetics, don’t reject them right away.

Dos And Don’ts Of A/B Testing

  • Don’t Include Regular Visitors in the Test. In other words, only test new visitors. You may not end up implementing the final results.
  • Do Ensure That Visitors See the Same Variations. Your choice of A/B tool will typically ensure that a single visitor doesn’t see two different variations of your website. This is important because it prevents the conflict that can arise if visitors see different prices or promotional offers.
  • Do Use a Calculator to Determine When To End the Study. Cutting the testing too short can prevent you from achieving statistical significance since you didn’t allow time for enough people to take part in the experiment.

Similarly, running a test for too long can also skew your results since it opens the possibility for more variables to impact the results.

Here is a calculator you can use the determine the ideal length of time that you should run your A/B test. Depending on how much traffic you get, tests can run anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks.

The Bottom Line

A/B testing is an asset that is always worth the time if done right. Above all, figure out your goals and what aspects are going to deliver the most value. Choose one variable to test and do so simultaneously. Lastly, give enough time to generate statistically significant results.

Yocale is a free, powerful scheduling software that also offers a free suite of business management and marketing tools that can help your business noticed. We are all about powering businesses the smart way. For more on all of our marketing tools and features, click here.

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