A/B Testing & Why it Works

So what is A/B testing and why is it’s popularity increasing? It is being able to try out different designs and ideas to your webpage to see which plan works the best to optimize results and it seems to be working well. After website optimization, whatever your goal is whether it be for downloads,  purchases, sign-ups, etc, you can be sure that any change to your website will have a positive impact. With A/B testing, you can show website visitors different versions of your webpage to ultimately let them decide which version is best. If that isn’t already simple enough, take a look at E.A sports and a few other businesses with success in website optimization. All E.A sports did for their test was have one webpage with a promotional offer on top and one without. As it turns out, the site without the promotional offer drove 43.4% more purchases. In the same article, ComScore was successful by testing three different variations to their product pages. In this case, their variation with a vertical layout and a more prominently displayed logo proved successful with a 69% increase in their conversion rate with the product pages compared to the original.

Interested yet?

Here is a guide in order for you to run your first A/B test. The first step is making sure to select the right software to be able to track visitors to see which version of the webpage provides the most positive results.  They list three of the more popular options and one of them includes Google Content Experiments which is a free service offered through Google Analytics… So for those who already have a Google Analytics certification, this could be a great tool. Content Experiments is able to measure the results, reveal the conversion rates for up to five variations of a webpage, and then selects the significantly statistical winner.

Although A/B testing sounds like nothing can go wrong, there are definitely mistakes that can be made. Here are four A/B testing mistakes that can be liable for business failure. One mistake that stood out to me was the third one about overdoing tests and just trying new webpages just to do it. While trying out new ideas can be helpful, taking the “test whatever” approach can lead to inconclusive data and little optimization. It can then frustrate the team and slow down growth to the company. It is important to structure your tests and build a testing plan that can eventually lead to maximum optimization.

Another interesting article I read was this blog on 100 different web optimization case studies.  All these businesses have had great success in different ways through A/B testing and some are so small where just a color change can make a big difference. Performable, which was a a start-up marketing automation company bought out by HubSpot,  had two variations of their homepage with green buttons in one and red in the other. They ended up finding out that 21% more people clicked on the red button than the green. Another company, Wiki-jobs, tested putting testimonials under their “Sign Up Now” button which ended up in a 34% improvement over the original with no testimonials.

I also read a few articles on Amelia Showalter, who was the director of digital analytics during the Obama campaign. Amelia and her team did excellent work in fundraising for the 2012 campaign and a ton of that had to do with none other than, you guessed it, A/B testing. So what was the science behind their success? Amelia explains how they did extensive A/B testing on the subject lines of emails and the amount of money they would ask people for. They also tested the message content and the formatting of them. They often had as many as 18 variations they were sending out before picking the winner to send to tens of millions of people. What they would do is make the variations and send them to a small groups of people. Then, based off the donations made in those e-mails, they would predict how much money that variation would bring in if they emailed it to the whole list. They also predicted how much less money they would make if they used anything besides the most successful one.

This article describes more of the success Amelia and her team had with the campaign. The analytics team was able to get ahead of the news curve with insights into real-time coverage and commentary. So pretty much after a big speech or debate, using analytics, they could run an analysis across the internet to see what the important lines were, what was covered, and what wasn’t.

Any type of business can learn a lot from what Amelia and her team were able to accomplish. If nothing else is learned, the fact that A/B testing could prove beneficial to your businesses success should be known.  One point brought up in those articles is the fact that they were just constantly testing new ideas. Even slight changes can have the biggest affects to help with website optimization. One note to point out though is that Amelia’s team had tens of millions of people to email their fundraising message. This means that they were able to have a lot of small sample groups to test their different variations of emails. It is important to remember that testing too much can lead to a small number of positive results and a lot of time being wasted.

The bottom line is that A/B testing is a marketing method that works. It can better help reach marketing goals whatever they may be. It can help you with a more visual appealing webpage that is also more effective and efficient that leads to more conversion.

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