The Lost Art of A/B Testing

The Lost Art of A/B Testing

We believe that A/B testing is one of the most powerful marketing tools out there. Test results can provide marketers with invaluable insight into customer behaviour and conversion rates.

Unfortunately, A/B testing is not as common a practice as other Internet marketing strategies, like SEO and web analytics. We think this is because people don’t completely understand what A/B testing is, how it can benefit them or how they should be doing it.

Read on to learn more about the basics of A/B testing and how you can rediscover the lost art.

What exactly is A/B testing?

Originally a direct mail strategy, A/B testing has now been adopted in the online space to test digital marketing campaigns such as buttons, banner ads and email newsletter campaigns.

Quite simply, A/B testing is a method of testing out 2 versions of a campaign simultaneously and seeing which performs better against a pre-determined metric of success. When the test is finished, you measure which version performed best and select it for use going forward.

Say, for instance, that a brand wants increase online sales. To test conversion rates, they decide to experiment with their calls to action on an email coupon promotion. The first version states: “Coupon offer ends Friday! Use promotional code 1 at checkout”, and is sent to the first half of their mailing list. The brand then modified the call to action in the second version to read: “Don’t miss out! Enter promotional code 2”. This version was sent to the second half of their mailing list. Now, the brand is able to observe response rates by monitoring the use of promotional codes. Whichever version performs better will be used or tested against in future campaigns.

What Should I Measure Against?

The answer to this question will depend on what exactly you care about. Many engage in A/B testing because they are looking to increase conversion rates, clicks, sales, registrations or signups. Results can vary significantly depending on what metric you choose to measure against. Whichever metric you decide to use, make sure that it is measurable.

In the example above, the test’s purpose was to discover the most effective way to motivate customers to make a purchase. On the other hand, if the goal was to see which version would generate the highest CTR or traffic to the website, then the results may have turned out differently.

The answer to this question will depend on your particular goals for the test. For example, if you want to increase the number of completed sign-up or registration forms, then you might want to test the type and number of entry fields in the form, the length of the form or the call to action.

While every A/B test is different, certain elements such as copy text, length of text, colours, layouts, graphics and calls to action are among the most commonly tested.

Have you ever tried A/B testing? Please share your experiences by posting a comment below.

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