“This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.“-Morpheus, The Matrix
With such a big decision ahead of him, wouldn’t it have been nice if Neo knew which pill would have been best for him? While Neo didn’t have that option, we in marketing do with an optimization strategy called “A/B testing”.
Why do we need to optimize?
It’s not enough to just drive traffic to your site, you need to be able to turn those potential leads into something. Any website that has visitors, should be focused on optimizing their site in order to convert those visitors into customers. That’s the goal of your business right? A/B testing allows you to best optimize your site by testing out small changes and reviewing the results. If you still don’t believe, look at this study.
What is A/B testing?
As The Ultimate Guide for A/B Testing states, this isn’t a buzz word. It is an open secret to anyone in the business world, yet so few know exactly what it is. I know I didn’t. So here is the basis for it:
“A/B testing or split testing compares the effectiveness of two versions of a web page, marketing email, or the like, in order to discover which has better response rate or better sales conversion rate. (Wikipedia).”
In other words you can take the guesswork out of your marketing decision process: when it comes to your webpage that is. Bottom Line: A/B testing allows you to get answers to your questions, such as:
- Will this color increase conversion rates?
- Is this headline interesting enough to bring customers to my website?
- Is this email layout turning off customers to continuing on to my site?
Why bother guessing when you can test it? Ignorance is bliss? I think not.
The biggest take away from this is that we have a way to back up every marketing decision we make. Despite how amazing of a marketer you are, it’s best to back up any changes you suggest with some kind of data; especially when we have the technology to do so. Don’t go off of what you or your boss find appealing; go by what your customers find appealing.
How do I do it?
1. Set you’re a/b testing goals
Like any science project, you can’t experiment without a purpose. What question do you want to answer? Have that clear goal in your head before conducting anything.
2. Choose a Testing Tool
There are a variety of tools you can use to conduct you’re a/B test. Here are a few that I found:
- Website Optimizer from Google
- Visual Website Optimizer
- If you are using WordPress, they also have a free plugin
3. Set up your split test
Remember to only change ONE thing for each split test. If you try to change too many things for one test, you won’t get accurate data on what contributed to the increase, or decrease, in conversions. Also, make sure to test both variables at the same time. You don’t want any other factors interfering with your test, time being the biggest of them all.
4. Test for a significant amount of Time
This can’t be stressed enough; don’t test only the first 10 visitors to your site and go off of that data; you want to have a large pool of data so that you can confidently say that one variable was better than the other. In fact, there is statistical confidence that determines whether your test is significant enough to be of any value (I know, MATH…euck)
5. Interpret Results
This is the fun part. You look through the data to see which variable was more successful. This could be checking the conversion rates on Google Analytics, or seeing how many email sign ups each version of the page had.
6. Report and Repeat
Depending on the data, you may have to run a few more tests, but essentially, you can start presenting element changes to your site with data to back it up.
A/B testing, like any science project, takes time and effort, but in the end, it can and will help you better optimize your conversions, to improve your ROI and make your bosses happy.
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