Even if you’ve never heard of A/B testing, you’re probably familiar with the methodology behind it. Think about the process by which a new medication might be tested. Before releasing the drug onto the market, you’d have to run a trial. You might start with a group of people with various symptoms that could be treated by the medication. Split into two parts, half of the patients would be given the real medication, the other half, a placebo. Having two groups of patients following different regimens would allow you to see if the drug is effective.
A/B testing works in a similar way and allows marketers to display two different versions of a webpage, search ad, or other piece of content to an audience, testing the effectiveness of their work. Ultimately, this method is useful for identifying weak points in a brand’s marketing materials and implementing the stronger option. Here’s why and how you should be running A/B tests—if you aren’t already!
What Makes A/B Testing So Effective
How often do you analyze whether or not your message is effectively reaching your audience? Or if your sales funnel makes sense to someone who knows nothing about marketing? Brands that rely on industry jargon or weak CTAs, or the whims of high-powered agencies to make crucial decisions regarding marketing materials without actually testing them out are working based on assumptions. Using A/B testing allows you to experiment with your value propositions on real users during real online interactions with your materials. This builds quantifiable data about which of your marketing campaigns work, and which don’t.
If you want to ensure that your brand message is effective, A/B testing is the best way to experiment with different messages—and find the strongest one. And one of the best things about this method? You can be as specific or as general as you like by replacing entire paragraphs and switching up a whole layout or just playing around with a few choice keywords.
Running an A/B Test
It’s vital to have a strong foundation in place before beginning an A/B test to ensure you know what you’re testing for, how you’re going to be doing it, and how to gauge the effectiveness of your results.
Find Your Hypothesis
A/B testing consists of changing out variables on a given webpage to see if they make a difference in user interactions and conversions. In order to test these variables, the desired end result must be identified. For example, a definitive statement like, “reorganizing the flow of my website homepage to place pricing information higher could increase conversions by 10 percent,” provides testers with both a variable and a desired outcome. The more specific your hypothesis is, the more targeted and effective an A/B test can be. So put on your science goggles and begin hypothesizing!
Create Your Variables
To begin testing variables on a webpage, two pages must be created. The first page is the “control” page in your experiment, while the second page contains the variable. Choose your variables, whether they’re bigger buttons in a different location on your homepage or more descriptive headers—but don’t change too many things, or you won’t be able to identify the factor that’s driving your results.
Every web developer knows that creating a web page from scratch is no walk in the park. Thankfully, there are many helpful tools available to separate certain landing pages from a home site for the sake of testing. Some of our favorites include Unbounce, LeadPages, and ClickFunnels.
Choose Your “Weapon”
Now that you have a workable hypothesis and control and test web pages created, it’s time to begin the A/B test. Two of our favorite tools for A/B testing are Optimizely and Visual Website Optimizer. You may find that one tool works better for your needs than another, depending on what you’re trying to measure.
Run Your Test
Taking the guesswork out of website optimization, A/B test results are relatively easy to understand and beneficial to apply. If your chosen weapon is one of the A/B testing tools listed above, both Optimizaly and Visual Website Optimizer clearly display the results of user interactions with both your control and variable pages.
Using these readable results, you can compare and contrast your website and the newly created page. This will show you whether or not the variable change proved your hypothesis. If the variable page generated the results you were looking for, you have proof that you should implement this change permanently.
Potential Downsides of A/B Testing
Depending on the nature of your variable (especially if the changes were relatively small) an A/B test might show minimal results, leaving your team with the exact same questions you started with. Although small changes—like the placement of a button—can make a significant difference in clicks and conversions, A/B testing is typically more beneficial when it comes to large-scale changes.
Start A/B Testing With Snap
Is A/B testing the next best step for improving your landing pages, website, or ads? Contact Snap, and we’ll find out! Our comprehensive SEO services are the perfect platform for ensuring each variable change you make is a valuable one.