Conversion rate optimization can be very complex. When it comes to creating effective marketing assets that drive conversion, there’s no single tactic that works every time.
Every organization is unique. What works for one business likely won’t work for another, even within the same industry. Most marketers are aware of this, and can generate effective campaigns based on a combination of intuition and knowledge about their audience.
Yet intuition doesn’t show you whether or not your marketing is working. It doesn’t help you identify potential mistakes, problems, and bottlenecks. It doesn’t allow you to fine-tune your content to be as effective as possible. That’s where A/B testing comes in.
What is A/B Testing?
A/B testing involves creating two or more versions of a marketing asset with the goal of finding out which is most effective. Each version has only a single variable changed, such as a headline, an image, or the placement of a design element. An effective A/B test also starts with a clear goal in mind.
How to Conduct an Effective A/B Test
Here is an example that will likely resonate with most marketers. You might suspect that increasing the size of a call-to-action button in an email newsletter will improve conversions. You would then determine a sample size and send one half of the sample group the newsletter with the original button and the other half the large-button version. After measuring the results, you can then decide whether to run another A/B test, or send out the newsletter to the rest of your mailing list with the "winning" version. You can see here that only one thing was tested...the call-to-action. This is important so you only have one different element and you can clearly see the results are driven by that one, single change.
For web pages and other content that doesn’t have a finite audience, an A/B test takes place over a period of time rather than targeting a specific sample size. You will need to let it run long enough to obtain statistically significant data. This varies by site, but will generally be based on a certain volume of traffic.
If you want to add another layer of insight to your testing data, you may consider providing your audience with exit or post-test surveys. Focus on your core goal. Ask them why they took a particular course of action. This will give you actual user data into why someone took a certain path on your site, things they liked, and things that may need to be improved. This can be invaluable, especially in a website redesign project.
It’s also important to note that you don’t need to conduct an A/B test manually. Most digital marketing platforms, such as HubSpot, include A/B testing functionality. You can A/B test call-to-action buttons, landing pages, web pages, emails, and more.
What to Do After an A/B Test
Once you have gathered enough data for your A/B test’s results and figured out which variation performs best, your next step is to determine if the test is enough to justify changing things. Paint as complete a picture as possible, leveraging multiple metrics to ensure your test is accurate.
It’s important to understand that no metric exists in a vacuum. Let’s say, for example, you are A/B testing two different email subject lines. While one subject line might have a better open rate, the second one might result in more conversions for the users who open it. So try to avoid getting caught up in the small details of the test.
Finally, understand that a single A/B test probably isn’t enough to fully optimize your conversion process. You should always be looking forward, thinking about what you can test next.
It's important to remember that an A/B test should have an end. You don't need to A/B test forever. Simply get the results you need, pick your "winning" version, and you can move onto your next project. Need help getting started? We invite you to schedule a complimentary inbound marketing consultation and we can discuss areas you may want to consider A/B testing to get immediate and actionable data on how to optimize your conversion.
Guest Blog Contributor: Terry Cane is the COO at SEOHost.net, a reliable and supportive SEO hosting partner.