In this dog-eat-dog world where everything is about winning over one another for higher conversions, businesses are doing what they can to survive. They look for the X-factor that sets them apart from the rest to be the cream of the crop. Quality user experience is one primary competitive differentiator.
How do you provide quality user experience at all times? You can’t just pluck things from the sky and formulate your strategies. Neither can you base your sales and marketing efforts purely on your intuition. Having accurate and tangible insights into your targeted customers is essential to give them what they want; this is where the A/B testing for your online business comes in.
As a marketer, chances are, you know and probably have done A/B tests. However, some of you may still not reap the results you want. It could be because people over-simplified the A/B test or got it wrong. Businesses will grow if their strategies are on accurate results due to correctly executed A/B tests.
What is A/B Testing?
Aka split testing, A/B testing is an experimentation process where two versions are shown to different groups of visitors simultaneously. The purpose is to determine which version leaves a favorable impact and drives revenues. Then, you implement the ‘champion’ version to optimize your website for higher returns.
‘A’ refers to ‘control’, and ‘B’ refers to ‘variation’. A/B Testing helps to:
- identify and resolve your customers’ pain points
- achieve higher conversion rates
- reduce bounce rate
- mitigate risks due to modifications
- make overall improvements to your website
Simply put, the A/B test eradicates any guesswork so you can make data-backed decisions. When done well, A/B testing effectively improves your key business metrics.
For example, imagine you’re an online retailer selling men’s wedding suits. You might use A/B testing to compare two versions of your product page: one with a simple product description and another with a more detailed description that includes customer testimonials and size guides. By tracking which version leads to more sales, you can learn what information is most important to your customers and optimize your product pages accordingly.
What Can You Test?
The ultimate goal is to remove any friction in the shopping journey to increase conversions. There are many variables that you can test, and the common ones are:
- Homepage (example: test the ‘Shop Now’ CTA button on the homepage of Mouqy)
- Landing page
- Pages layouts (products, services, and others)
- Checkout page (if applicable)
- Products/services descriptions
- Delivery types
- Payment method options
- Push notifications
- Social media posts
- Social proof (reviews, testimonials, interviews, and others)
The following is an overview of how to conduct A/B testing for your online business.
1. Know Your Website’s Current Standing
Before diving into action, you perform some groundwork on your website’s current standing. Use Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) tools to help you understand your website’s traffic pattern, the pages that attract the most traffic, user behavior, and more.
Google Analytics is a free web analytic tool that helps you with this. Also, you can test how responsive your website is under different scenarios to understand its resilience capability. User behavioral tools with heatmaps give you a visualization of your users’ experience with your website. Then you can zoom in on the problem areas faster; your A/B test needs to focus on these areas.
Also, you can uncover gaps in your users’ journey through recordings provided by such tools. These tools usually provide reporting and analysis to help you diagnose the problems.
2. Know Your A/B Testing’s Objective
Before designing your A/B test, you must know the reason you’re doing it in the first place. You cannot afford to ignore this step, as doing so is detrimental to your test results. You may find yourself confused and lost amid the process; this is something you want to avoid at all costs.
Your testing needs to be focused and clear with a set compass. Once you have your goals in mind, everything about your A/B test must center on these goals for effective and accurate results.
3. Identify the Variables
Once you know the problem areas to target, you look for a data-backed hypothesis. There is usually more than one variable you want to look at but to run successful A/B testing, you have to test one at a time. Hence, isolate one independent variable you wish to measure (the control).
Then move on to locate the dependent variable that changes to see the impact when measured against the independent variable. You can create more variations and test them against the independent variable to identify which works best.
For example, you believe (based on insights given by your CRO tools) that the green-colored CTA button at the bottom of the email is more likely to be clicked than the current red-colored CTA button. The dependent variable, in this case, is the email with the red-colored CTA button you have been using. The independent variable is the email with the green-colored CTA button.
4. Create Control Scenarios
You now have your variables to test. However, you must have control scenarios to ensure your A/B testing results are accurate. Otherwise, other factors can come into play and influence the test results, and you cannot pinpoint which variable is responsible for the positive outcome.
Take the example from above. The control environment requires you to send the email containing the red-colored CTA button to one-half of your customer segment and another of the SAME email with the green-colored CTA button to the remaining half of the customer segment. Also, both emails to send out simultaneously to reduce other external factors that may impact the results.
5. Determine the Group Size
Split your testing groups equally and randomly. Otherwise, you may question the test results due to the different nature of the groups. It is easier when you control the groups, like in emails. Then you can chart out the size and make the groups equal.
Generally speaking, the larger the group, the better. However, it also depends on your A/B test, desired outcome, and other factors. Whatever it is, look for a suitable group size for conclusive results for higher conversion rates.
6. Determine the Right A/B Testing Tool
There are tons of A/B testing tools that make the job easier for you. They can help split the groups, test emails, CTAs, pages, and more. Usually, you set the goal against a specific website action and change the variants until you identify what converts best. Coupled with advanced analysis and reporting, you can harvest the results fast for prompt rectification.
However, each CRO tool is its own. Hence, you may need several CRO tools to see effective results. Sample them and find out the combination that can best help you.
7. Decide Test Approach and Run the Test
Before running the test, you determine the approach to take – timing and duration. You must carefully compute the test duration based on many factors, including the average daily and monthly visitors, the percentage of visitors participating in the test, the conversion rate, the number of variations, and more.
You also want to let the test run for a significant time to obtain substantial results. If not, you’ll find it hard to trust the results, questioning if there’s a statistically significant difference between the two variations, given the short test duration.
Another point to consider is finding the optimum time to run the test. You may want to check your website’s speed and performance over time to avoid times when your website undergoes maintenance and upgrades. Also, both variations must run concurrently and only one test at a time.
8. Analyze Results and Effect Changes
Once your test concludes, don’t rest on your laurels, as this is where things start to get interesting. Analyze the results with an open mind. Although you may see other metrics unravel, keep your mind focused on the primary goal metric you started. That said, it is good to consider the business metrics when deciding on the winner.
Once you have a clear winner, effect the necessary changes by disabling the losing variation and replacing it with the champion. However, if the test remains inconclusive, don’t fret. Learn and draw insights from the test results. Then implement corrective measures in your subsequent tests.
Optimize A/B testing For You
When done correctly, A/B testing is invaluable because it gives you a more accurate picture of what your visitors want. You can then provide the quality user experience they expect, and your visitors will convert.
However, what works for you may not work for another. Hence, don’t play the guessing game. Instead, rely on A/B tests to give you spot-on and tangible insights to grow your online business.