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A/B testing: To A/B test or not to be?

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A/B testing

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A/B testing (also known as split testing) is a method of comparing two versions of a page against each other in order to determine which one performs better in terms of Click through Rate (CTR) or conversion rate (CR). By creating an A and a B version of your page, you can validate new design changes, test ideas, and improve your website’s Return on Investment (ROI). Sounds easy enough, but sometimes this practice is overlooked because teams stick to rigid planning instead of a responsive, flexible, and adjustable digital marketing strategy.

Beside the fact that you need the right tools to test your pages or your conversion funnel, there are other indicators to point at when starting A/B tests. One of the most important indicators is the conversion rate optimization. You need to define what constitutes a conversion for your site (a contact form, a call, a quote demand, downloading a study case, etc.) and to note the most used patterns for reaching that goal. For instance, if the goal for your site is to grow your prospects’ database, then you need to offer an incentive, be it a study, an invitation to a webinar or a free trial of a service. If the people that apply for that conversion come from various categories, you need to tweak and test your approach and the way you communicate. Testing the content you put forward is a must, but you also need to accomplish the most important goal, i.e. increasing revenue. That is why you should create a specific persona for the prospects that have become clients and have thus provided you with revenue. The prospects similar to clients are the ones that you should target and you must optimize your content and your site in order to reach them quicker and better.

Another indicator to bear in mind is the segmentation of the traffic that arrives at your site. Usually, this segmentation is already in place if you have a Google Analytics account, but you have to keep in mind that if the tracking code does not have the correct parameters, then the traffic segmentation is scrambled which makes your testing irrelevant.

Interest zones are an important indicator. A landing page has as many interest zones as dynamic elements on the page. You should keep in mind that a main call-to-action element could suffice and that many attention grabbing icons or buttons will damage your understanding of the user’s behavior. Just like a commercial, your message must be clear and catchy, if possible, but above all, informative. This is a matter of dozens of seconds and not minutes.

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A/B testing with Google Analytics

Google Analytics is the right choice when beginning to do split tests on your site. It is a free and powerful tool, which allows you to see if your design is right, if your page has too many buttons or maybe not enough, to detect the dynamic elements that work for your site and the ones you should eliminate. In order to start the experiment, you should go to your Google Analytics account in the Behavior section. On the Experiments tab, you have all the steps you should follow in order to evaluate your tests results.

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If you want to boost your revenue or the number of transactions on the page, select ecommerce or, if you want to improve user experience through average page views or time on site, select site usage. After you set up your experiment, you can choose what portion of the traffic will be driven to your page. This will control how many people visiting your site will see one of your test pages as opposed to your original page.

You should finish the set up and after a review of all the parameters, you are ready to start testing your page. On the Google Analytics Blog you can find examples of companies that have increased their conversions with up to 44%. Unfortunately, Google Analytics doesn’t support multivariate testing, a way of testing multiple variables like color, text size, font, and buttons all at once. Google Analytics can’t be used for an email campaign either, but it remains a powerful tool in the hands of an eMarketer.

Emailing A/B testing

When it comes to emailing it’s all about testing. From the length and form of the title to the weight and number of pictures, everything could and should be tested when sending campaigns. Usually, the emailing platform provides the reporting tools that allow enhanced A/B testing, like multiple variables or combinations of variables at once.

You should keep track of all the tests you have performed and remember that emailing campaigns should not be sent in bulk, but to segments of the database. All the information you gather should go into determining the main features of each group. Thus you can apply each winning segment according to the preferences of each group. There are a few best practices to remember when running an email A/B test:

  1. Test simultaneously in order to better understand the dividing factors.
  2. Test optimized segments and not random ones.
  3. Analyze the collected data, and do not trust your instinct.
  4. Use reporting tools for easier A/B testing.
  5. Test often for the best results and have a flexible strategy in mind.

App Store A/B Testing

Finding an app is tricky business, especially in such a competitive field. There are over 3 million apps in Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store combined. Getting noticed becomes quite hard if an app doesn’t split test just about everything: from the initial icon, to screenshots and ratings, anything could have an impact. App store optimization (ASO) does just that, it tackles the need to know which version one should choose for more prominence.

Just like for the pages of a mobile site, A/B tests for apps show that:

  1. Simple is more effective.
  2. Less is more: do not jam dozens of icons onscreen.
  3. Use uniform and soft colors for the background.
  4. The main element in the icon should be one simple visual

Conclusion: A/B Testing Quick Tips

  1. Do not be afraid to test any element of the page.
  2. Test Content – amount, wording, font, size and placement on the page. Words and phrasing are of utmost importance.
  3. The goal of the page should be clear and simple to grasp.
  4. The revenue should be optimized and not simply the conversion rate.
  5. Your customer feedback is more important than your views.

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