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While creating a landing page or designing an action button, or even while writing a simple email copy, has your inquisitive mind tried to predict what will trigger an urge in the user to click a button and lead to conversion? Very often marketers find themselves in this position where they try to use intuition to design a particular page or email.

In a competitive market, however, this could prove to be risky, as going with your “gut feeling” could wind up in becoming a costly mistake. There is nothing to worry about because instead of using your unreliable intuitions you could conduct an A/B Test or very commonly known as a split test.

We all would heard the name “A/B Test” from time to time, and if you are a marketer then it would have brought back memories from graduate school. This ultimate checklist is going to help you understand:

  • What is an A/B Test
  • When to use an A/B Test
  • Benefits of an A/B Test
  • How to conduct an A/B Test the right way
    • Checklist of what to do before an A/B Test
    • Checklist of what to do during an A/B Test
    • Checklist of what to do after an A/B Test

What is an A/B Test?

Before we get into the technicality of how this test works, it is important to understand the experiment first. A/B testing is known as split testing because it is an experiment followed by marketers wherein they “split” or separate their audiences to understand their reactions to various online marketing campaigns or websites. This helps marketers gain an insight into which campaign appeals to the audience more, as it affects the campaign’s performance.

To simplify this a little, in order to run an A/B test, you will have to create two distinct versions for one piece of creative content, this could be a change in a single element in the online marketing campaign or the website. These contents named Versions A and B will then be demonstrated to the separated target audience (in groups of equal number of people) to test their reactions, which will help determine the design with the highest possibility of conversion.

Image Credit: Trinidad Wiseman

This is an experiment that is most commonly used by digital marketers and other professionals within the digital marketing industry to understand the target users and optimize the content accordingly. As mentioned earlier, the conversion rates that can be generated will help these digital marketers decide the design they need to choose.

When to use an A/B Test?

Knowing when to use an A/B test is the first key step to being able to conduct the experiment the right way. There are many reasons to use this test, however these can be narrowed down into 5 categories:

  • Use an A/B test when you redesign your website. Before you redesign a website, users know the platform design all too well. With a blink of an eye they are able to go to the right page to retrieve any kind of information. Many times digital marketing agencies face an issue where they see a drop in conversions once the website is redesigned, this is because customers in general face a retention when it comes to accepting change. Therefore with a redesign, users are left irritated or with the feeling that they are lost in a website they once knew so well. So consider do an A/B test before and after the redesign launch to see where your website design stands.
  • You could do an A/B experiment when you change or add an element like a service or a feature on your website. These features can affect the customer data or in the case of an ecommerce site, it can affect the purchase process majorly. For instance, if you add a shopping cart feature on your site, you will need to test to see if this change is improving conversion or not. Adding such a feature will influence the customer data as well as purchase process.
  • The next time you change the prices of your product or services on your website, make sure to use an A/B test to experiment the change. Customers are likely to bounce on to choices where the prices are slightly low, therefore testing a change with regards to pricing needs to be done before the change can be implemented.
  • Be sure to run an A/B test to check if your conversion rates are not reaching maximum potential. The only way to test against this issue is by running frequent A/B tests. Many a time digital marketers refer to other companies online marketing campaigns and website to determine the factors that help them achieve high conversion rates. But the truth is if you want to improve your conversion rates, then you need to test your website’s performance, because making changes based on other sites will not help you in any way.
  • If you are considering increasing your revenue, then you need to use A/B tests to help you understand how to increase your conversions. Conversion rates essential to increase revenue and this test is at the core of conversion optimization.

Benefits of an A/B Test

A/B test is very commonly used by digital marketing professionals for one very obvious advantage, it is cost efficient, or in other words it is not costly. Even though this test is low on cost, it comes with heavy rewards as it helps devise strategies to improve conversion rates. Apart from this, A/B test offers various benefits to digital marketing professionals.

Image Credit: The Daily Egg

  • Improved Website Traffic: testing elements that can affect customer data and actions can lead to a considerable increase in website traffic, as now you have data to help you understand what appeals to visitors.
  • Lower Bounce Rate:if you face issues with regards to a high bounce rate, A/B test will help you understand what is not appealing to customers. Generally you might have to change the introduction, fonts maybe the color palette to retain visitors.
  • High Conversion Rates: this is an obvious benefit when it comes to using an A/B test. The main objective of this experiment is to help marketing professionals understand different ways to increase the conversion rates, and this has proved to work.

How to conduct an A/B Test the right way?

And finally we have come to the main essence of this article, the ultimate checklist to conduct an A/B test. This section is divided into three portions to help you understand what to do at what point of time over the course of the experiment.

Before an A/B Test

  • Identify the goal: the first step is to identify and set the goals before you start the experiment. Before you start, choose a variable you want to test and based on this variable create a hypothesis. This hypothesis will summarize your objective for the test, which will give you clarity throughout the course of the A/B test.
  • Control and Challenger versions: by this what I mean is nothing but set your versions A and B. Control is the version of the web page or the landing page or the campaign in its true, unaltered manner. This will be the original design created by the marketing or design team. Once this is done, you need to work on creating the challenger version. This is the design of the test element that is altered. These will include the changes that you wish to implement in the original design.
  • Split the target audience: the reason why this test is called split test is because the key element of this test is to separate the audience. This needs to be done carefully, as the audience needs be divided into equal numbers and at random with no prejudice. For doing this you also need to decide the sample size depending on the nature of your business and the element you are testing.
  • Define the level of significance for your results: once you have finalized on the above-mentioned elements, you need to decide the level of confidence you want on the data that is acquired. In most cases, marketing professionals set a confidence level of 95% as this information becomes the bases for their online marketing campaigns and website designs.

During an A/B Test

  • Choosing an A/B test tool: if you are a member of HubSpot Enterprise or Google Analytics Experiments, you are given an option to run A/B tests as many times as you wish. However if you are new to this, then you need to choose a platform that will help you run the tests easily. This is an important step, as you will need to use this platform to generate and compare results between the control and challenger versions.
  • Simultaneous testing of both versions: an important factor to keep in mind while running the experiment is to make sure that you run both the versions’ tests at the same time. If you run Version A (control) tests for a month and Version B (challenger) a month later, it is likely that the results will not be reliable or accurate.
  • Duration of the experiment: if you need a powerful and reliable data, you will have to run the experiment for a considerable period of time. You cannot expect the results to be trustworthy if you run the experiment only for a day or a week. Not only this, but running an A/B test for short duration will render the difference between the versions as insignificant.
  • Feedback from users: agreed that A/B test is a form of quantitative data, but since the goal is to understand users and increase conversion rates, you could consider getting qualitative data by talking to actual users (through surveys or feedback polls etc.).

After an A/B Test

  • Goal metrics: stay focused on the goal that you chose before the A/B test. Once your report is generated and you start analyzing, make sure that you don’t sway away from the goal metric. For instance, if you wish to find the design that has a higher conversion rate and you end up using the click-through rate (CTR) metric, the results might confuse you. In a case where the CTR is high and the conversion rate is low, if you get caught up with CTR the chances are that you might choose to wrong campaign.
  • Action based on the generated results: it is essential that you take actions on the results once they are generated. In a scenario where one version is significantly better than the other version, the action to take would be to choose the winning version and delete the opposing version. However, if both the versions don’t depict a major difference, then the results will become void as both versions may not help to company improve their traffic or conversion rates.
  • Plan for future A/B test: there is always room for improvement. This test may have rewarded you with conclusive reports, but the truth is the Internet is always changing and customer trends are never stable. In order to maintain your position among the competitors and improve website traffic and conversion rates, it is essential to plan ahead and prepare for more A/B tests.

Conducting an A/B test is never difficult if you have to right guidelines to help you out. In a world where the competitions on digital platforms are at its peak, influencing visitors to convert into loyal customers is becoming a challenge. As important as it is to redesign a website, a campaign layout, an email and so on, it is important to first understand what appeals to the visitors and what is the element that will push them to take an action. In order to avoid making a wrong decision, next time when you devise a plan to alter elements on you online campaigns, be sure to run an A/B test to make sure that you are on the right track.

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