A/B testing, also known as split testing, is a marketing practice that compares the performance of a control group with test samples, differentiated by a single variable. This testing technique is used to improve conversion, response and performance rates on a variety of web and online marketing components, including emails, landing pages and call to actions. While larger companies have the luxury of dedicated IT and UX design professionals skilled with A/B testing, smaller businesses often have a single employee in charge of online marketing, if at all. However, there are simple, effective methods that can allow webmasters to perform A/B testing.
5 Tips to Consider when Performing A/B Testing
A/B testing is a broad field, and can be applied to various components within online marketing. Therefore, it is easy to see why individuals can become overwhelmed by the seemingly “scientific” nature of testing campaigns. Displace these misconceptions and consider the following tips when beginning your first A/B testing campaign:
– What are you testing?
A/B tests can be performed on a variety of different items, as long as you are comparing a single variable at a time. Email marketing campaigns, landing pages, and call to actions are common items that individuals test, each with their own components. For example, A/B testers can perform tests on subject lines, layout, or time of delivery in an email campaign, determining which has a more significant effect. Make sure that you define exactly what you are testing, or you may end up with skewed results.
– Create a Test Plan
Before you run an A/B test, it is recommended that you create an initial test plan. Consider all factors and variables that go into a test, before you actually run the real thing. In addition, plan out the objectives of the campaign, as well as the contingency plan in case the testing campaign takes an uncharted route. Doing so will increase the likelihood that your results will be stable and uninfluenced by additional factors.
– Big, then Small
Webmasters may be tempted to test single, specific variables, such as the color of the call-to-action button. However, if this is your first campaign, you may want to initially focus on the bigger picture. For example, testing the layout of your website or a certain blog design can provide the individual with valuable feedback, giving structure to future A/B testing campaigns.
– Use Available Tools
There are a number of resources and tools online that can help provide guidance with A/B testing. For example, Google Website Optimizer and Omminture Test&Target are excellent tools designed to help webmasters assess the effectiveness of their testing campaigns and perform analytics. If you’re unsure of where to start when testing, a variety of websites give examples of successful A/B testing campaigns, such as abtests.com and Whichtestwon.com.
– Understand your Goals
When conducting an A/B test, make sure you don’t fall under the spell of unrealistic expectations. Many people perform A/B testing, expecting a drastic difference from a single color change. However, individuals are advised to set expectations that can be easily measured. For example, guidelines for success can be defined by a shift in click through rates or increases in conversions.