What Is A/B Testing?

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    Are you using A/B testing for your content? If not, there’s a good chance you are leaving money on the table. The only way you can truly evaluate your marketing campaign, and your conversion funnel is by acquiring data directly from your customers.

    Guesswork isn’t enough–from SaaS to e-commerce and everything in between–you need enough hard data to know how your audience is reacting to and responding to certain elements on your website.

    By testing, you can eliminate the mystery of website optimization. With the data gathered from this testing, you can make data-informed decisions that can shift your business conversations from a place of “we think” to one of “we know.” When you measure the impact that changes have on your metrics, you can feel confident that each change you make provides positive results.

    If you are ready to learn all about A/B testing and why it’s so beneficial, keep reading.

    What Is A/B Testing? 1

    What is A/B Testing?

    With an A/B test, you take an app screen or webpage and modify to create another version of that page. The change can be subtle, such as a single button or headline, or you can completely redesign the page. Once in place, half your traffic is shown your original version (called the control), and the other half see the modified version (called the variation).

    As a visitor is served the variation or control, the engagement each person has with both experiences is measured and collected in your dashboard and then analyzed using a statistical engine. You can then figure out if changing the experience had any effect–positive, negative, or none at all–on your visitor’s behavior.

    What Is A/B Testing? 2

    A/B Testing Tips

    When planning an A/B test, you have to figure out what you plan to test, first.

    Are you going to run an off-site or an on-site test?

    If you opt to run the on-site test, you need to think of all the sales-related content on your website and then determine what elements are “testable.”

    With an off-site test, you are likely testing a sales email or an ad.

    By testing your ad copy to see what helps bring in more converting visitors, you can focus your efforts.

    After you know your ad is effectively converting people, it’s easier to justify spending even more money on it.

    The same is true for emails. If you create and send two versions of an email out, and then track which one leads to more conversions, you can send just that version next time.

    After you figure out what you are going to test, make a list of the variables you plan to test. For example, if you plan to test the call to action on your page, you may test:

    • The call to action’s location
    • The specific text used
    • The color of the button or around the button

    This is a process. It’s common for businesses to conduct several A/B tests before making a final change or decision.

    What Is A/B Testing? 3

    How To Perform A/B Tests

    Be sure that before you begin testing, you have a clear idea of the results you want to achieve. You need to know the baseline result, which are the results you are getting now. You want to test the options against each other but also now have proof that the one that is doing better in the test will do better than the current results.

    You can also use A as your control group (using what’s currently in place) and create something new for option B.

    It’s important to run your tests at the same time to account for any timing variations. You can test one of your variations today and the other one the next day because it’s not possible to factor in variables that may have changed from one day to the next. To get accurate results, you need to divide your traffic receiving the variations at the same time.

    A/B Split Testing, SEO, and Google

    Google not only allows A/B testing, but it also encourages it.

    While an A/B test doesn’t pose any inherent risk to your search rank, it is possible to jeopardize your search rank if you abuse an A/B testing tool for things such as cloaking.

    To ensure you don’t violate any of Google’s rules, make sure the following doesn’t happen during A/B testing web pages:

    • No cloaking
    • Use rel=”canonical” for split tests and multiple URLs
    • Run your experiment only for as long as needed
    • Avoid 301 redirects –use 302s instead

    By making sure you follow Google’s rules, you can take advantage of A/B testing, without risking any negative consequences.

    Improve Your Bottom Line with A/B Testing

    When you plan and orchestrate accurate A/B tests, they can make a huge difference in your business’s bottom line. When you use controlled tests and gather empirical data, you can determine what marketing strategies are working best for you and your product.

    When you determine that one variation may work up to four times better than the others, you can initiate promotions with that variation. It’s crazy to try and initiate an expensive marketing plan with no proof it’s going to be effective.

    When you invest in A/B testing regularly, you can improve your bottom line significantly. If you can figure out what works and what doesn’t work, and you have hard data to back this up, it is easier to figure out what to do next. It also helps you create marketing materials that are much more effective from the beginning.

    Remember, you have to continue the A/B testing efforts. Just like you should never quit doing SEO, you should never stop A/B testing. After all, the effectiveness of anything may fluctuate over time. If you need help planning A/B testing, contact us today.

    About The Author:

    Chris Kirksey

    Chris Kirksey

    Chris Kirksey is the CEO of Direction, a digital marketing agency reflecting the culmination of a 15+ year obsession with digital marketing. It all started with an eBay business at 9 years old, then transitioning from domain investing and website building. After a 6-year US Army career leading intelligence collection teams both in the US and overseas, Chris now brings a sophisticated approach from cryptologic language and adversary data intelligence to digital marketing intelligence. His precision and planning of military campaigns, now reflected in digital marketing campaigns, have proven successful for clients in industries ranging from law firms to technology startups.