A Beginner’s Guide to A/B Testing

Aug 1, 2023 | Conversion Rate Optimisation, Digital Marketing |

Think about the first time you created a website. You had little to no idea what was required to run a successful website.

Maybe you thought all you had to do was organise a few pages, add content and eye-catching images, and include a few links and buttons to your contact pages. That would have been an easy world for website developers!

But in reality, website design and development are far more complex tasks that require knowledge, experience and constant adjustments. Of course, “creating” a website itself doesn’t take long. But creating a website that generates leads and brings new customers to your business is another matter entirely.

If you are reading this, you already know that improving the efficiency of your website is a MUST. But first, you need to figure out which structure, design, content, etc., attracts the most visitors and increases conversion rates. This is where A/B testing comes into play. And in this article, you will learn all about it. Shall we?

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What exactly is A/B Testing?

In a nutshell, A/B testing compares two things (A & B!) to find out which works better in a particular task. In other words, A/B testing is a marketing strategy that pits two different versions of a website, ad, email, pop-up, or landing page against each other to evaluate each one’s efficiency.

It’s a way to compare two things and, in short, find out which version is preferred by users of your website or app. You need two different designs for the comparison: word choices or images. A/B tests are usually run in pairs and include two primary runs

  1. The control. Control is the version currently appearing on your website or landing page.
  2. The experiment. This is the design, copy or image you want to see if it works better than what you already have.

Multivariate testing shares the same purpose as A/B testing but compares more than two versions of a thing. This way, you can test multiple items at once and see how they interact. However, for simplicity, this article will only discuss A/B testing alone. However, the same benefits, guidelines, and principles can be applied to multivariate testing.

Why Is A/B Testing Important? 3 Primary Benefits

A/B testing has an essential purpose: to improve the performance of your website or app incrementally. By comparing your current design, content, CTA buttons, navigation options, etc., with one or more variants, you can constantly change your design and check its functionality with real users. But that’s not all. Here are three reasons why you shouldn’t deprive your website or app of A/B testing:

Improved User Engagement

By identifying the design or content that generates the most viewer interaction, A/B testing would be an excellent way to increase engagement. Once you run the test and collect data on both versions, you can use the analytic tools and integrate them into your marketing decisions.

For example, you can test the colour of a design on one of your landing pages and see which colour generates more clicks or conversions. You can’t imagine a slight change in colour would create any drastic change, but unless you run the A/B testing, you can’t know what you’re missing.

Most product developers, content managers and designers these days use A/B testing to enhance user experiences by adjusting specific elements of a webpage or app to create better design variation. Without A/B Testing, it would be extremely challenging to optimise user engagement, onboarding, modals, and in-product.

Reduced Bounce Rates

Every website metric and analysis reveals a weakness in your online presence that can be optimised. But there are several ways to change things, and to find out which method works best, A/B testing can help. This way, you can identify high-traffic areas of your website or app, as well as pages with low conversion or high bounce rates that need immediate adjustments.

The overall effect of A/B testing is to reduce bounce rates and keep visitors longer. However, the methods you use may change over time. It takes some experience to figure out where you need to rewrite the copy, change the images, or perhaps use captivating headlines. That’s up to you to decide.

Increased Conversion Rates

Every business owner, content manager and strategist will do whatever it takes to learn what kind of content is more likely to lead a website visitor to purchase. Increasing the conversation rate is the holy grail of all marketing efforts. And A/B testing can be an unparalleled marketing tactic for understanding your audience’s persona and figuring out how they prefer to be approached.

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Where to Start A/B Testing Project?

Before you start A/B testing, you need to be clear about one thing. Make sure you have a clear idea of the results you are aiming for. Go through your current analytics and examine your baseline results. Determine what the primary optimisation goal is for A/B testing. Once that’s out of the way, your testing process needs to go through the following steps.

Step 1: Research

The foundation of any calculated and successful business effort is reliable information. To create a plan for A/B testing, you must thoroughly investigate your website’s current performance. How many users are viewing the site daily, which pages are getting the most traffic, or have overall conversion goals been met? These questions will help you define a new and more effective approach.

You can integrate A/B testing tools with various quantitative website analytics tools such as Google Analytics, Omniture, Mixpanel, etc. The specific metrics you need to focus on will depend on what you aspire to achieve with split testing. But make sure to look at the most visited pages, pages with the most time spent, and pages with the highest bounce rate.

Step 2: Observe and Formulate Hypothesis

Once the research is complete, you should clearly understand what and how the changes need to happen. Organise your research observations and findings and create data-driven hypotheses to increase conversions. Without a view, it’s easy to get bogged down during your testing campaign.

Use qualitative and quantitative tools to capture visitor behaviour and use all the data to refine your hypothesis. Once ready, test it against various parameters, such as its success rate probability, impact on macro and micro goals, ease of setup, and so on.

Here are 5 best tools for collecting visitor behaviour data:

Step 3: Pick the “control” and “challenger”

Once you start redesigning and modifying your web pages, apps, or emails,  you will find that you need to test many variables. In most cases,  you cannot get this knowledge from the Internet. So the first action would be to limit the scope of your experiment. The best way is to isolate an “independent variable” and measure its performance during the test.

Of course, you can test more than one variable for a single website or app, but it will be almost impossible to determine the negative or positive impact of each parameter. Remember, sometimes, tiny modifications like changing the image in your email or the words on your call-to-action button can trigger a wave of significant improvements. You need to know what contributed to the change to invest in it even more.

Step 4: Use Split Testing Tools

Using tools, software, and programmes to run an A/B test is the most common approach to split testing. Rarely can you tackle the entire testing project and achieve optimal results. Moreover, split testing tools are cost-effective, time-saving and easy to use. They help keep track of performance records and compare each version to the other using various benchmarks.

Below are the 5 best A/B testing tools that will help anyone who wants to optimise their website’s design to increase the number of visitors:

These tools organise and categorise data comparatively, which significantly facilitates the analysis of the winning version. Their analytics are based on factual and accurate results and help steer your marketing campaign in a scientifically sound direction.

Step 5: Run the Test

After you have defined the test method and approach and clarified the business requirements and objectives, start the test and wait long enough to get statistically significant results. There are many split testing methods, each with strengths and weaknesses. However, remember that statistical accuracy and how you use the findings are more important than the methodology.

Step 6: Analyse Results and Ask for Feedback

The final step is to determine the winner of your campaign. But that’s not the end of the game. With the data analysis obtained through split testing, the work of marketing campaigns begins. Once the test is complete, analyse the results using metrics such as percentage increase, confidence level, direct and indirect impact on other metrics, etc.

Don’t hesitate to use the successful variant if the test is successful. If the results are inconclusive, change the original hypothesis and repeat the test. However, be sure to draw insights from the failed experiments and avoid mistakes in subsequent attempts.

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How Much Should A/B Testing last?

Split test duration depends on many variables. It’s often recommended that the project duration be estimated based on the sample size and the time required to achieve the target sample size, given the traffic or volume.

There are always some external variables that affect split tests. For instance, viewer response to treatment may vary depending on seasonal factors. Therefore, some A/B tests may require more than a few days or weeks to produce a meaningful result.

Remember that A/B testing is super mathematical and has a lot to do with quantitative data. But don’t think that determining audience behaviour follows the same 2+2 principle. It’s not easy to understand why people take specific actions and not others. Therefore, qualitative interpretation is integral in making sense of the analytics.

Get visitors’ opinions on each version through a poll or an exit survey asking users why they didn’t click on a certain CTA or buy a particular product. In most cases, things that aren’t working in your favour are easy to fix, and visitor feedback saves you time searching for these weaknesses.

Bottom Line

After reading this quick guide, you should now be well equipped to plan your own optimisation roadmap. A/B testing is an invaluable tool that can help you improve your website’s conversion rates. With full dedication and expertise, split testing can reduce many risks associated with website optimisation campaigns.

But this dedication and expertise are not found everywhere. It requires a lot of experience and passion, something we have gathered and preserved at Broadweb. We offer a comprehensive website optimisation package – from design and development to SEO, maintenance, performance optimisation, and security audits. Contact us today!

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