As a marketer, you’re always looking to improve your systems to improve your conversion rate. There are so many variables it’s hard to know where to start. What can you change on your site to make it better? You can find the answer by conducting A/B tests. This will help you understand what needs to be done, and what is actually having an effect on your conversion rates. Here’s what you need to know.
What Is A/B Testing?
Essentially, it involves creating two different version of a marketing effort, in this case your website. You’ll use both items in an attempt to see which one is more effective. This doesn’t mean you will create two whole new websites in order to test. Instead, you will change just a few key elements, such as a headline or an image. Even the placement of design elements can be tested in this way.
When A/B testing, you need to have a clear goal in mind. It’s not enough to ask, “Which one is better?” You need to know what you’re looking for. For example, if you use a certain image on your home page, will you get more people clicking on the email subscription button? You need to be thorough in what you’re testing.
How An Effective A/B Test Works
The way you conduct an A/B test will depend on what exactly you’re testing, and the audience for that test. In some cases, you’ll be able to get some very definitive data, says marketer Aniya Stafford, from UK Writings and Academized. For example, if you want to see whether changing your call to action button on your emails gets better results, you already have a sample audience in place, ready to test that on. When you test the change, you’ll send the altered version to half your subscription base, and the original to the other half. Then you will have definitive numbers on how well it works.
If you don’t have a definitive audience like this, you will need to make the change and let it run long enough to gather enough data. This will be dependent on the traffic you get and when it comes to your website.
You can make your tests more effective in some cases by creating exit surveys for users. This helps your audience state what they like or didn’t like about the change, and whether that will affect their actions on the site. It’s a good way to collect more data that you can put to use.
What Needs To Be Tested?
There are a lot of things you can test on your site to make improvements. Here are some examples of what can be altered in order to find the most effective solution:
- Copy – This includes headlines, subheads, writing style, formatting and more.
- Design and layout – The layout of your site is a delicate balancing act. You need to only keep the essentials, but what are they? You can test the images and videos you use, as well as types of images, tags like countdowns and so on.
- Navigation – You can test where menu bars are placed, keeping like items together on the site, and making the layout predictable.
- Forms – You can test different kinds of forms to see which ones work for your customers.
- Call to action – Your CTA prompts your customers to complete an action. Testing will show you the optimal size, wording, placement and color that works.
- Social proof – You can test whether adding social proof, like recommendations and reviews, works with your audience.
Getting Started With A/B Testing
It’s always a good idea to identify where your pain points are on your site. For example, if you see customers visiting but not completing the CTA, then that is where you should focus. You can also go with other simple changes, such as images, headlines and copy length.
What Happens After A/B Testing?
Once you have completed testing, you will be ready to make some changes. With a more simple test, like a CTA change, you can simply implement the more effective version on your site and see the difference it makes.
If the change is more complex or nuanced, you may want to run further tests. For example, if you find that shorter copy works better, you may want to test articles with subtitles against infographics to get more data on what works best.
Challenges You May Encounter
As you begin testing, you may come across challenges that you weren’t expecting. First, you may find that you just don’t know what to test. You’ll need to dig into your site data and see where the pain points are to get started.
You’ll also need to understand that your hypothesis may be wrong. One example of this is from Brad Shorr of Straight North, says business blogger Adrienne Hayes, from Let’s Go And Learn and Dissertation Writing Services. He notes that he expected one result from a CTS change, but got something different. You may find that you’re not getting the results you’re expecting, so you will need to change your thinking. It’s important to be adaptable.
Some find it difficult to analyze the results they get. If you have a failed test, it’s tempting to ditch it and move on, but you can actually learn from it. If the test was successful, what next? It’s important to look at why a test succeeded or failed, as this will inform your marketing going forward.