If you’re a marketer or website owner, chances are you’ve heard of people using A/B tests to increase their conversions. You may have even tried to run a couple yourself, but didn’t really know what to do or what you were looking for.
When A/B tests are executed correctly, they can seriously help websites adapt in a way that will convert. In this article, we’ll be explaining the basics of A/B testing, along with a few strategies from experts to increase the effectiveness of your tests.
What is an A/B test?
Also known as split testing, A/B testing allows you to simultaneously test two different versions of the same variable on your website, to see which performs better.
To run an A/B test, you need to create two different versions of the same piece of content, with changes to a single variable that you’ll be focusing on for that test.
You’ll show these two versions to audiences similar in size and demographics, and analyze which one performed better.
For example, let’s say you want to see if adding a countdown timer on your product pages will increase or decrease conversions.
To A/B test this change, you’d create another, alternative web page that reflected the element change. The existing product page, without the timer — or the “control” — is Version A. Version B is the “challenger”, with the countdown timer on the product page.
Why Should You Run A/B Tests?
There’s no better way to test small changes than running A/B tests. Why am I so confident about this?
The answer is simple… There is (typically) a winner for every test!
Because you’re competing for the same element with a slight change against the similar audiences, you’ll know which performs the best after the test is complete, and then act upon it.
No matter how small the element is, A/B testing will make sure your website is converting at its highest potential.
Test One Variable At a Time
As you analyze your website, you might realize that there are a lot of different elements you can test. You may even be tempted to try to test them all at once!
While this is great enthusiasm, if you really want to be effective with your A/B tests, you should isolate your independent variable, and see how well it performs.
This doesn’t mean you can’t test more than one variable on the same website or email campaign but you should test them one at a time instead of all at once.
Look out for the various elements in your marketing and the possible alternatives for their design, wording, and layout.
Other potential test subjects can include: email subject lines, sender names, and different ways to personalize your emails.
It’s important to remember, that even simple changes, like changing the image in your email, or the color of your call to action button, can drive big improvements. In fact, these sorts of changes are typically much easier to measure than bigger, more complex changes.
What’s your goal for your A/B test?
It’s crucial that you go into each A/B test with a specific goal in mind. If you don’t have a goal for your test, then what’s the point of testing?
Think about where you want your variable to be at the end of your split test. You might even form a hypothesis on what you believe will happen, and then see how it lines up.
If you wait until afterward to think about which metrics to track, what your goals for the test are, and how your changes might affect behavior, then you might not set up your test in the most effective way possible.
Create a Control and Test Subject
Now that you know the variable you want to test, you can create a control and test subject to prepare for running your test.
Your control is the unaltered page that the element you’re testing is on.
Your test subject will be a new landing page that is identical, minus the element that you’re testing, whatever it may be.
For example, if you’re wondering whether including an FAQ on a landing page would make a difference, set up your control page with no FAQ’s. Then, create your variation with a FAQ section.
Test Both Variations Together
In order to get the most accurate results for your A/B tests, it’s important that you run the tests at the same time.
Timing plays a very significant role in your campaigns, whether it be an email blast, or a limited time sales offer on your website funnel. If you were to run Version A of your test during one month and Version B a whole month later, how would you know whether there was a change in performance?
When you run A/B tests, run the two variations at the same time, otherwise, you may be left with inconsistent results later on.
This is my favorite part of A/B testing…
The part after both campaigns have finished and a clear winner appears.
This is when it’s time to take action and implement the change right away and enjoy the extra conversions!
However, if neither variation performed better than the other, you now know that the variable you selected, really has no effect on the buyer’s decision to purchase or not.
With all A/B testing, there is never one right answer, and buyer behavior will always change!
That’s why it’s important to always stay testing your variable and landing pages for optimal conversions. You can’t control the time of year, what your buyers will decide to do, or even control your conversion.
But… It’s completely in your power to optimize your pages to the best they can statistically be, and that’s where effective A/B testing stands out.
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