SEO

A/B testing: what it is and why you should use it

In order for the site to attract new customers and increase sales, it needs to be constantly improved. But how do you know what your audience responds best to? The most obvious thing is to just make the necessary changes and see what happens. But it’s time and money that you don’t want to waste. 

This is where A/B testing comes in. In the article, we will show with examples what it is and how to use this tool correctly.

What is A/B Testing

An A/B test is a comparison of two versions of a web page. Other name options: split testing – split testing, A / B testing. Split testing is done to identify the most effective page variation and increase the conversion rate. 

Typically, an A / B test of a site involves:

  • option A – page without changes, “control” option;
  • option B – version, usually with one change. 

If there are more page options, the process is called A/B/N testing.

An example of classic A/B testing is testing a page on a website with different call to action buttons. 

Place a button on page A that says “Get a free consultation”, and on the same page B – a button that says “Get a quote”. 

If you see that there are more clicks on one of the pages, leave the winning button caption as the main option and continue testing other elements of the page: the color of the button, its location, the background of the page.

Why Use A/B Testing

Putting material on the site and forgetting about it is a bad strategy. If you want the site to bring you customers and sell, you will have to update it regularly. And you also need to constantly check how the content is perceived by visitors and improve it to get the most out of it.

The AB test of a site takes the guesswork out of you. After testing, you have real data in your hands – evidence or refutation that the changes will improve the performance of the web resource, increase the percentage of visitor engagement, sales and conversions. 

What is tested with split testing :

  • Advertising texts. In paid advertising, unconvincing text can lead to budget drain. It’s the same on the site. The more interesting and relevant your content is, the less likely it is that a visitor will lose interest in it and leave before making a purchase. 
  • Calls to action. It is important that your audience react to the site: subscribe to the newsletter, buy, share content. Testing calls to action will help you find the right message tone and correctly place call-to-action buttons on your site pages. Try different button shapes and sizes, text and graphics to see which elements drive the most conversions. 
  • individual pages. Test not only the elements of an advertising campaign – creatives or texts, but also regular pages. Analyze background color, content relevance, block placement. This way you will know exactly which elements of the site users like and which annoy and force them to close the page.
  • Mailing letters. Check subject, content, layout, and other elements of emails. Divide the audience in half, send the same email with different subject lines, and then look at which subject line was opened most often. A split test will help determine what your audience responds to best, and over time, “grope” for good options faster.
  • Subscription forms. Everything is important in lead generation forms, from button colors to text. Such nuances can seriously affect the user’s reaction – reduce the time to think about a purchase or make them leave the site altogether. AB-test will help improve subscription forms and increase CTR – click through rate.

How to conduct A/B testing

The basic stages of A/B testing look like this:

Step 1. Put forward a hypothesis

We formulate our vision of one, maximum two changes that will improve the conversion rate of the page and its performance.

For example, we want to change the color of the call to action button from red to green, or move the return policy link from the footer to the sidebar.

To conduct testing, at this stage it is necessary to clearly formulate the hypothesis and determine how we will measure the result.

Let’s say changing the color will make the button more eye-catching and more likely to be clicked on. By the increased number of clicks, we will understand that the change was beneficial.

Moving the link to the return policy to a different location will, on the contrary, make it less visible. There should be fewer users who fill out the form on this page. 

Step 2: Create page variations

We have Control Page A with a red button and Test Page B with a green button. The same logic if you are testing the placement of the return policy: page A unchanged, with a link in the bottom menu, page B with a new link location, on the side.

If you need to test multiple changes, don’t apply them all on a single B page. This will lead to confusion – you won’t be able to tell which change worked. It is better to split the process: first test one change, then the second.

Step 3. Split incoming traffic

For split testing, we divide the traffic equally between option B and the original page A.

To manage traffic during an A/B test, various split testing tools are used. If traffic comes to you through paid advertising or search engines, you can use web analytics. For example, conduct A / B testing with Google Analytics – if their counters are installed on your site. Google Analytics has a separate feature entirely dedicated to page split testing — Google Optimize. 

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