What is A/B testing and how can you employ it successfully?
Online engagement acts as a key measurement of success in the modern B2B marketplace and there are several ways this can be tracked. The first is by tracking engagement through your website conversion rate, such as email newsletter signups, CTA click-throughs, and downloads. In most cases, platforms such as Google Analytics can be used to effectively monitor each of these conversions and keep track of whether or not your site’s content is attracting new visitors.
Nevertheless, it’s not always easy to pin down exactly what your ideal customer is hoping to find on your site. Though randomised testing has its role to play, it’s highly inefficient and can impact company growth targets.
A/B testing, on the other hand, enables you to target your resources for maximum effect and efficiency and avoid unnecessary business risks as a result. In addition, it provides proof of how specific changes impact your conversion rate in the short term. A/B testing helps you to figure out what types of content will convert visitors to buyers, making it easy to see what works and what doesn’t.
What is A/B Testing?
A/B testing, also known as split testing, is a century-old method of comparing two versions of content against each other to determine which one is the preferred option. Ronald Fisher, a statistician and biologist, is credited as the first person to uncover the most important principles behind this method – and randomised controlled experiments in general. However, A/B testing in its current form didn’t come into existence until the 1990s.
A/B testing is essentially an experiment involving two or more variants of a piece of content which are shown to users at random, and statistical analysis is then used to determine which variation performs better for a specific conversion goal.
This type of live comparison takes a lot of the guesswork out of marketing campaigns in particular and can serve to boost the success of specific product launches or promotions.
What are the Benefits of A/B Testing?
While email marketing has been a core marketing tactic for businesses for many years, Forbes believes A/B testing is the golden egg - if you’re not already using it, you’re likely falling behind the competition.
So, let’s dive into some of the main reasons to consider implementing A/B testing:
- Risk reduction - Launching new content or making adjustments to your site involves significant investments, in terms of both time and resources. By using A/B testing, you can effectively analyse the behaviour of your customers before making any significant investments.
- Issue detection - ‘Out with the old and in with new’ is a common mindset when it comes to company rebranding or website updates. However, comparing the ‘old’ to a newer version can open our eyes to problem areas that may have lain undetected for some time, such as colours on the web pages, CTA click rates, and other page elements. Due to the fact that A/B testing is data-driven, it’s a surefire way to determine what’s working and what’s not based on metrics like cart abandonment rate, click through rate, and time spent on the page. This data can then be used to make adjustments to your web page, resulting in the most engaging version possible.
- Faster results - In most cases, more data means more reliable results. However, that’s not necessarily the case when it comes to A/B testing. Although the sample size must carry statistical significance – and you shouldn’t be led only by the initial results of your analysis – you don’t need millions of page views to get a real idea of what’s working and what isn’t. Use your data wisely and your testing duration will shorten, meaning you can implement changes sooner and boost engagement.
- Simplified analysis - There’s minimal statistical analysis involved in A/B testing given the fact that it typically involves metrics that are relatively easy to interpret, such as site visits and conversion rates. What’s more, the technology that’s now available can help to identify higher-performing content and automatically include this on your site after a certain length of time.
Common A/B Testing Errors That Can Prove Costly
The aim of any A/B testing process is to boost conversions, whether it be through direct site traffic, email marketing, or even social media. Yet, though the process may seem relatively simplistic, there are several traps marketers often fall into that can prove costly either in terms of time, money, or both.
So, what are the most common pitfalls to avoid when running A/B tests?
- Testing for too long - There’s a happy medium involved when it comes to running these kinds of tests. By no means should you throw in the towel after just a day or two, but nor do you need to sit around for months and months waiting for the results to roll in. In fact, testing for too long is likely to impact other opportunities for your business as this time could’ve been better used for running other tests. Marketing expert, Neil Patel, recommends testing for a minimum of seven days and ensuring you’ve reached statistical significance.
- Random hypothesis - Testing with random ideas is a waste of time and resources. Before you start testing, you should have a clear hypothesis in mind and only be changing a single variable each time. Otherwise, if one version performs well (which is the most likely outcome), it won’t be possible to draw accurate conclusions about which factors affected performance. Asking questions related to the home page, checkout, pricing page, and navigation can provide you with great insights.
- Failure to test copy - As the saying goes, content is king. That means that A/B testing with poor copy is unlikely to provide you with reliable results. Creating two alternative versions of high quality copy may seem like more effort than it’s worth, but it’s the only way to ensure you truly understand the type of content that moves your audience.
Converting A/B Testing into Higher Engagement
It goes without saying that running A/B tests with an engagement KPI requires detailed planning and correct execution. However, it’s one of the best ways to ensure that your company better understands its customer base and capitalises on this data in the long term.
By ensuring that visitors enjoy your content and are motivated to interact with it – whether it be e-books, blogs, or audiovisual content – they’re far more likely to keep coming back.