A/B split testing is the process of comparing two versions of a Web page to see which one yields better results; both are concurrently exposed to a similar audience for comparative purposes. Regardless of a Website’s goal (lead generation, sales, signups, etc.), the two variations are typically judged on conversion rates.
For example, an e-commerce Website’s goal is for visitors to buy products, whereas a news or media outlet wants readers to sign up for subscriptions or click on ads. The “conversion rate” refers to the Website’s ability to turn visitors into paying customers.
So why is maximizing conversion rates important? Put simply, it is more cost effective for your business to increase your conversion rates than it is to acquire new business.
A/B testing is a great way to see what it is about your Website that works and what doesn’t so you can optimize and save money in the long run. Think about your existing Website traffic; the ROI from a small, simple change could do wonders to increase sales revenue.
There are a lot of elements that factor into what makes a Website great, and like most marketing initiatives, the efficacy of your design and other digital assets should be continually gauged. Here are some Website essentials to consider testing:
Call to Action (CTA) Buttons
Your CTA button(s) is by far the most important part of your landing page. This is how you turn a visitor into a customer. Creating the perfect CTA button takes a lot of experimentation.
There are a few things to consider when running an A/B test for your CTA buttons.
- Color: For starters, play around with color. There have been tons of scientific experiments done to find out how color affects buying habits. Tinker around and see what colors stand out the most on your Webpage and evaluate how visitors respond. Keep in mind that just because a certain color worked better than another for one Website, the same color scheme might not necessarily work for you.
- Positioning: Positioning is also extremely important when creating a CTA button. Take into account how the text on your page is laid out before experimenting with placement. Try above the fold, below it, or on either side of the page and see what works best.
- Text: The most important part of a CTA button is the text itself. This area needs to be heavily tested. Switch up everything from the length, to the nouns, buzzwords, and/or verbs. Even the smallest tweaks to the copy can result in big returns.
Running A/B tests on your navigation bar can be difference maker. These tests might take up a good chunk of time but are well worth it. An example of a highly lauded navigation can be found on ProFlowers.com. Not only do they have a header for each type of product they offer, but by recognizing that they are in the gifting industry, they gave their customers the ability to also shop by occasion.
Examine which pages on your site contribute the most to your overall traffic and bottom line. Then, change up the order on your navigation bar to see which combination gets the highest number of clicks. You can also play around with the names of your navigable pages.
When considering inbound marketing, it’s always important to showcase the most popular content offers on your landing page. After all, you’ve worked hard to get visitors onto your Website, so you might as well make the most of their visits and maximize their exposure to you and your products. The challenge with content offers, however, is finding out which offers work best for the page the user has landed on.
When it comes to blog posts, there are several WordPress plugins that can help strategically offer the best content to your visitors. YARPP (Yet Another Related Posts Plugin) is something you’ve probably encountered before; it shows related posts at the end of a blog post in the form of thumbnails.
For something a little more streamlined, Inline Related Posts will automatically insert related posts contextually within the body of the post. This style of content offer has quickly been gaining popularity with news and media outlets.
Online users today prefer more visual content, but it’s not enough just to see images; they want to experience them. It is important for Websites to cater to this concept and showcase real, attractive imagery. Long gone are the days of cheesy stock photography, as many case studies have shown.
It should go without saying that different images result in different levels of engagement, which is why it is important to conduct split tests. Examine your business model and identify what types of images make your target audience tick. A/B tests on how different images within your site draw in visitors are extremely useful, as they give you wonderful insight on increasing conversion rates through another visual medium.
Headlines act as the main text on a Website’s homepage. It is wise to invest your time in testing how this type of copy resonates with your target audience. Play around with the wording, typography, and font size while measuring your visitor engagement via clicks.
Crafting a powerful headline is no easy task; it’s important to capture the user’s attention and direct the user to a CTA in a clear and succinct manner.
How Much Time Should You Let the Test Run?
Split tests are not an overnight answer to your conversion rate optimization. A/B testing is a long and scientific process. Based on how much traffic your Website gets, a test can last anywhere from several days to a handful of months.
Keep in mind that running a test too long or too short can lead to skewed results. The more traffic your site gets, the shorter the test will be and vice versa. Keep things simple on yourself and focus on one test at a time for the most accurate results, as testing multiple variables at once is considered multivariate testing, which is much more intensive than an A/B split test.
Looking for the right A/B testing tools to get started? This Mashable article highlights 10 of the top A/B testing tools along with price and set-up instructions.
Make sure when running your tests that you reach statistical significance. Basically, what that means is that once you reach a certain point, your test results can be considered reliable. Luckily there are several tools available online to help establish your test’s validity, like this split test calculator and decision tool.
There is no exact formula to having the perfect online presence; every Website is different. That’s why A/B testing is so beneficial. It gives you the opportunity to examine your business model under a microscope and use trial and error to find your rhythm.
Don’t be afraid to take risks and get creative. Thinking outside the box can potentially lead to a key difference maker!
Sam Wheeler is a digital business consultant for Inseev Interactive. Having experience working with some of the world’s most recognizable and least recognizable brands, Sam has built an expertise around all things digital. A graduate of Northwestern University, Sam is based out of San Diego and works with companies from all over the world.