In today’s online market, everyone needs a stellar website. And for a number of good reasons, as it is a great way for people to reach you and engage with your brand. It takes money, time and effort to create a website that properly reflects what you are doing and who you are, let alone allow you to establish a long-term connection with your website visitors. Most of that time, as well as effort, goes into testing. More specifically, A/B or split testing, the lifesaver among strategies to help you build a web presence that will stand out.
Marketers will always say that basing decisions on hunches and gut feelings is very unprofessional and usually destructive, and their love for numbers is, in this case, more than justified. That is where these tests steal the spotlight. In particular, A/B testing is very valuable because different audiences behave differently, and you need this knowledge to make informed decisions when building your website. What might work for you in terms of marketing might not work for someone else. Here, we will go over some of the numerous ways to help you implement these tests into your marketing strategy in order to maximize traffic and conversion rates.
Understanding A/B tests
First things first, what is A/B testing? It is a process of experimenting with different variables in order to measure the overall pass rate of a system. When talking about web design, it is the comparison of two variations of a single webpage. It is conducted in a random manner by serving two versions of a page to different users that differ from one another by only one variable.
These variables can be anything from a different color, size, fonts, or multimedia content. The goal is to see which one performs better on multiple plains. It is the solution to a much less effective method of randomly making changes to a system based on personal preferences – after all, you want your audience to like you. A/B testing allows you to take it to the end consumer and get first-hand responses.
Brace yourself for the test
Before you start the first test, you need to know what can and what cannot be tested. Some of the things that fall under the “can” category are headlines, button text, colors, forms, multimedia content, social media sharing buttons, etc. Almost all that appears on a web page or a landing page. If you are conducting email marketing, you can also test email subject lines, copy and images.
To run a successful test, there are three basic steps to use as guidelines. Observing and collecting data is essential if you want to know what is happening to individual elements of the test. The data you gather in this first step is the key for moving on to the subsequent ones. The first place to gather data from is the web analytics account. Based on the data collected, you need to form a hypothesis.
This hypothesis is an idea to help you understand why you are seeing the results that are evident and what could be done to improve them. By setting up a precise goal, you will be able to measure the degree of success as the hypothesis comes to fruition. Finally, running your test and collecting further data will create a loop. This is a constant process in which you collect data and try to improve upon it.
The factors that impact your testing
There is no blanket solution on this one. When it comes to testing, there are plenty of factors that can influence the duration necessary for the test to be effective. Some of those factors can be, but are not limited to, the nature of the industry, or a niche within it. Choosing reliable web hosting providers is another factor that can help you keep your tests speedy and efficient, so it’s vital to partner up with a reputable name in the business. This is especially vital for brands that expect high traffic volumes.
For those that are getting insufficient traffic, testing should probably be done over a longer period of time. Usually, about a week’s worth needs to be done in order for the test to have statistically meaningful results. And that is exactly when you know that your A/B test is done. When you can conclude that there is a statistically significant difference with a predetermined tolerated margin of error between the two variants, that is where a single test ends. For some, it might take longer than the others, as it all depends.
After you have moved from a particular test, all the data gathered is very valuable and should be stored or archived for future reference. Results, findings and solutions should be kept together in a well-classified manner for future ease of use. That way, it will be easy to share your results with relevant people.
Most tools used for A/B testing will save the results automatically. There is always a reference or archiving subsystem in place. These can always be run again after some time, just to see how those old tests hold up, sometimes with surprising results.
A/B testing involves a lot of numbers and quantitative data. It can often be difficult to understand exactly why people have certain preferences and take certain actions over others. While running your tests, you can also collect qualitative data from real users.
The best way of going about it is taking polls or surveys. A survey presented when exiting your site is the least intrusive way of politely asking for feedback and it is considered good practice. Surveys are best when they have a combination of open and closed answer choices, to make sure your users spend as little time as possible filling out your surveys.
A/B testing is all about practice. The more you do it, the more you get better at it. With each subsequent one, you will extract more valuable data to be used and improved upon in the future. And remember, it is a continuous process that relies on constant execution and evolution, so step up to the learning curve and keep testing so that you can improve your web presence.