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A/B Testing Increases Conversion Rates

Although A/B testing is one of the easiest ways to increase conversion rates and learn more about your audience, it is actually underused. Why? Because people often assume that to be of any value, testing must be technical, time consuming, and difficult to implement. But that’s not the case with A/B testing. If you consider the value of conversion rates and customer insights, you’ll realize it’s impossible to ignore such a simple form of testing that supports optimization.

How It Works

A/B testing—which is also called split testing or bucket testing—does pretty much what the name suggests. It tests a control version A against a different version B to measure which one is most successful based on a metric that you have decided to evaluate. For example, you can test web page content by splitting traffic to your website between version A or B while you monitor visitor actions to identify the version that yields either the highest conversion rate, or where visitors perform a desired action. By testing with live visitors on your site, you learn which option is the preferred experience from real users. You can also learn which visitor segments consistently perform better with specific content.

What to Test

A/B testing can be used to evaluate just about any type of marketing material: emails, newsletters, ads, text messages, and mobile apps. Within any of these marketing materials, you can go deeper and measure the effectiveness of a wide range of elements:

  • Call to action (or the location of the call to action)
  • Design
  • Copy
  • Offer
  • Headline
  • Subject line
  • Images
  • Social media buttons (or other buttons)
  • Logos and straplines

The sky’s the limit with A/B testing. It can play a huge role in determining what is working and what isn’t in your marketing campaigns. It can give you an indicator of what your audience is interested in, intrigued by, and responds to. A/B testing can help you see which elements of your marketing have a stronger impact than others and which might need to be improved upon—or dropped altogether.

Looking at Conversion Rates and Measurements

A/B testing starts with a hypothesis. You suspect that making a content or design change would improve your conversion rates and you put theory to the test. For example, you can test a download button versus a link, or if one subject line will cause more readers to open an email, or whether a particular design gets better results.

The different content elements, or variants, are configured for a split test with traffic. The test results will indicate the success of one element over another based on what you’ve decided to measure: the number of visitors, open rates, clickthroughs, sign ups, subscriptions, or any other component. The two elements are monitored until a statistically sufficient measurement is achieved.

Conversion rates can also be measured in revenue. You might consider the number of sales along with the impact of a change on actual sales revenue. Remember that conversion rates can be any measurable action and are not just restricted to ecommerce sites and sales. They can include: sales made, leads generated, newsletter signups, clicks on banners, or time spent on the site.

What sort of metrics should you be paying attention to when it comes to A/B testing? That depends on your hypothesis and goals. However, you should pay take note of metrics that indicate how engaged your audience is with your marketing materials.

If you are testing a web page, look at the number of unique visitors, return visitors, how much time they are spending on the page, as well as the bounce and exit rates. For an email, you will want to see who opens it and clicks through to your call to action.

The Beauty of Simplicity

A/B testing is really quite simple. Here are the basic steps:/p>

  1. Decide what to test.
  2. Collect the necessary data from your previous testing and marketing efforts.
  3. Decide your goals and what metrics you will use to determine success.
  4. Come up with a hypothesis.
  5. Design your two different variants.
  6. Test them against each other.
  7. Track the results, learn from them, and optimize.

Whatever the outcome of your test, you will have statistics and empirical evidence to help you refine and enhance your marketing campaigns. Using what you’ve learned from the results of your A/B testing, you can improve your marketing materials to deliver a greater impact, design a more engaging customer experience, write more compelling copy, create more captivating visuals, and better connect and engage with your audience. As you continuously optimize, your marketing strategies will ultimately become more effective, increasing ROI and driving more revenue.

Beyond Just A and B: Multivariate Testing

You don’t have to stop at just A and B versions. You can add C, D, or E versions—as many versions as you like. Like A/B testing, multivariate testing measures a higher number of variables and shows which combination of elements performs best.

You might develop variants based on only one element being different such as the subject line of an email. You could also create variants based upon multiple elements being different from each other. The goal of multivariate testing is to discover which combination of elements works best to achieve the goals that you have laid out.

Emails, websites, mobile apps, and other marketing materials are all comprised of elements that can be tweaked or modified. Multivariate tests demonstrate how well different elements work together. What elements can you test in combination with each other? The combinations are endless—the headline and image, the headline and offer, the copy and design, the color and placement of the CTA button—it can go down to the smallest of details.

For any aspect of a marketing campaign, there are multiple possibilities that you can try out with multivariate testing to further improve conversion rates. But be advised that testing multiple combinations requires more time and effort, as well as more traffic.

Things to Note with both A/B and Multivariate Testing

First, the numbers tell a story, so look at them objectively. You need to remove your emotions and look at the results. If the copy you adored didn’t test well, it should be changed. Your personal likes or dislikes will not change what the metrics reveal. The numbers will show you what to tweak, change, adjust, or drop. As a marketer, you need to stay flexible and open-minded because you will be constantly measuring and monitoring your campaigns to produce more effective materials.

Testing takes time. Your tests might run for a few days or several weeks. If you want statistically significant numbers, you need to put the time into gathering them. One overnight test isn’t going to tell you that much. You can’t rush results. Testing has to be done properly for it to provide relevant metrics.

Don’t stop testing. There will always be something else that can be measured. While your current testing might indicate that one approach is working, things can change overnight. If you continually test, you eliminate the guesswork and can keep creating the best possible marketing materials.

Once you have your results, take action. The numbers will indicate the direction you should go and which course of action you should take. You already went to the expense and effort of testing; don’t ignore what your findings say.

The best marketers know when to change course or make an adjustment. Their audience tells them everything they need to know through their feedback and actions, and your testing results are a way to measure this feedback and put it into the proper context.

Both A/B and multivariate testing give you a way of gauging the pulse of your audience. The information you will receive is too good and potentially valuable to go to waste. Testing needs to lead to action that will, in turn, lead to marketing success.

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