Today’s marketers use a wide variety of techniques to determine the best marketing and promotional strategies for their businesses, and one important tool in their arsenal involves A/B testing. Most often linked to websites, email campaigns and apps, this tool has become popular in the last few years as businesses have realized how it can make a huge difference in marketing, by showing you what type of content is popular and what makes people click. All of it’s done by assessing your conversion funnel and marketing campaigns.
A/B testing allows you to create two competing marketing messages and then evaluate which variant performs better by running a simultaneous experiment between the options. This method helps you mine data on the basis of consumer behavior. For instance, you may send one batch of marketing emails to half of your subscribers using a particular subject line, and the other emails to your remaining subscribers with a different subject line. Then you can evaluate which generates the highest open rate.
This is considered one of the simplest and most effective ways for optimization, which can be used to test a variety of elements from website content to call to action (CTA) statements. Unfortunately, A/B tests can be complicated at times. Using this strategy can either make your marketing efforts a great success if well-planned, or ruin your strategy if your conclusions are incorrect.
How Do You Run an A/B Test?
When you plan to run an A/B test, the first step is to find out what you want to test. Then you need to figure out whether you want to run an on-site test or an off-site test. On-site would mostly be sales-related bits on your website, and off-site would be either a sales email or an ad on a site that doesn't belong to you.
Once you have decided what you want to test, list the variables. For instance, if you consider testing the CTA, you can test the location, the exact wording used, or the button color on the website. When it comes to overall conversion, each of the variables has a different impact. In this process, if you are testing A against B, you can see which one’s performing better, and if you choose to use A as your control (original version of what you're testing) then you need to choose something else for B (altered version). Remember, it’s essential that tests for all the variables are run simultaneously.
For successful A/B testing, follow the steps below.
Choose a variable – There are several variables that you might want to test, but to determine the effectiveness, you need to pick a particular variable and measure its performance. That could be your subject line, your CTA or any other item.
Define your goal – Metrics are important. Before you run the test and set up the second variation, pick a primary metric. If you wait until the end to decide on the metric or your goals, you might not be able to run the test effectively.
Determine a Control and a Challenger – When you have both the variables, original and altered, and the outcome that you desire, set up the control (unaltered version) and the challenger (new version).
Pick Your Sample Size – Your sample size will depend on the type of A/B testing you are running as well as the A/B testing tool you are using. Additionally, depending on the A/B testing tool, you’ll need to equally and randomly split your sample groups.
Decide the Implication of the Results – Statistical significance is a core part of A/B testing. You need to think about how substantial your results need to be, based on the variation you chose.
Run One Test at a Time – On any campaign, just run one test at a time. If you don’t, you won’t get effective results.
Pick an A/B testing Tool – To conduct an A/B test, you need to decide on an A/B testing tool. Some such tools are Google Analytics & Google Optimize, Optimizely, VWO, Zoho PageSense, HubSpot, Leadformly, Unbounce, Convertize, Kameleoon, Convert, Omniconvert, Freshmarketer, Oracle Maxymiser, Monetate, Adobe Target, Evergage, AB Tasty, and Nelio AB Testing, Apptimize (to name a few).
Test Both Variations Concurrently – For effective results, when running an A/B test, you’ll need to run the two variations simultaneously.
Don’t Restrict the Time – In order to gain statistically significant results, you should not restrict the time to run the test.
Get Feedback – A/B testing is more about quantitative data than qualitative. Therefore, to cover the qualitative aspect, conduct a poll or survey that will give you insights on consumer behavior.
After you run the A/B test, your focus should be on your primary goal metric, measuring the significance of the results so you can take action accordingly.
Check These A/B Testing Elements
- Headlines and Copywriting
- Images, Audio, and Video
- Content Depth
- Subject Lines
- Product Descriptions
- Social Proof
- Email Marketing
- Landing Pages
- Media Mentions
The Pros and Cons of A/B Testing
A/B testing has both advantages and disadvantages. It does help you to reel in your target audience by analyzing the campaigns that the consumer reacts to, but it also has downsides like the possibility of cloaking, which is not allowed.
- Enhanced Content Engagement
- Increased Values
- Higher Conversion Rates
- Lower Bounce Rates
- Increased Sales
- Easy Analysis
- Reduced Risks
- Time Consuming
- Usability Issues Can’t Be Measured
- Cloaking Risks
- Usage of Dark Patterns
- Reliability on Quantitative Testing
- Instrumentation Effect
A/B testing not only helps you with an optimization roadmap, but also breeds confidence in your brand, resulting into increased sales and loyal customers. If you want the most accurate results, always follow the correct testing procedure.