What is A/B Testing and Why is it Crucial to Increase Conversions?

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”

This is according to Peter Drucker, who was an Austrian-American management consultant, “whose writings contributed to the philosophical and practical foundations of the modern business corporation” (thanks, Wikipedia).

What is A/B testing?

A/B testing, or split testing, is a method of comparing two or more versions of a landing page, app, email, ad, etc. in order to measure which works best.

As business owners, we like to believe that we know our audience. We know what they want to see, what appeals to them, what will make them *click*.

The sad reality is that we probably don’t.

Or maybe we do. But the only way to know for sure is to test our theory. Basing our decisions off of a guess or an assumption could mean losing potential customers. And this is why A/B testing is crucial to collecting the necessary data in order to measure and improve.

When building your sales funnel, creating your landing page, writing that marketing email, Facebook (or is it Meta?) ad copy, or even that call-to-action button, it is imperative that you compare different versions to establish what works best.

During A/B testing you will create two (or more) versions of the same element and show them to different, equally sized audiences, for a set period of time. The data collected from the experiment will indicate which version performed better.

A practical example

For example, you might want to test the effectiveness of your call-to-action (CTA) button.

Perhaps the placement isn’t ideal, and so you create two versions of your webpage, one with the CTA where it always was, and another with the CTA moved to a more prominent position, say further up the page.

You would then drive 50% of your traffic to the original webpage (option A, or the “control”) and 50% of traffic to the new version (option B, or the “variation”).

After a sufficient period of time, you would investigate the number of times visitors clicked on the CTA for each version and based on the findings you would know where your CTA works best for all future web pages.

How to conduct A/B testing

1. Establish what the one variable is that you are wanting to test.

You might be tempted to create two completely different versions of the element in question, but doing so will not provide you with enough information on what, specifically, works best. Rather focus on one element to test at a time, such as headline copy, product images, fonts, colours, or CTA buttons.

2. Establish your goal.

This will depend on what the element is that you will be testing. For example, you might want to increase the open rate of your marketing emails, get more clicks on your ads to increase web traffic, increase lead generation by encouraging more people to leave their email address, or reduce the bounce rate of traffic leaving your website.

3. Source the perfect A/B testing tool.

Search “A/B testing tool” on Google, and you will realize that there are plenty of options available. A good (and free) place to start is Google Analytics and Google Optimizer.

4. Be sure to allow enough time to produce the best data.

How long you should run your A/B test depends on your sample size, or how many people are seeing, and interacting, with the element in question. Don’t make a decision based on the results of a handful of interactions, rather allow the test to run for an adequate amount of time to ensure that a sufficient number of people have had a chance to interact with the element in question.

5. Ask your audience for more information.

To receive even more in-depth feedback, consider using an optional pop-up survey or poll to ask your audience what they do, or do not, like about the element in question. This could provide you with even more valuable feedback on how to improve.

6. Plan your next A/B test.

Once you have your results, and some real solid evidence to base future decisions off of, why not start testing more versions, or different elements? There is always room for improvement.

Don't make important marketing decisions about your business based on a hunch. To make the most out of your website, sales funnels, advertising efforts and email marketing, test what copy, colours and images grab your audience's attention, piques their interest and makes them *click*.

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