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A/B testing

Discover what A/B testing is, the elements to test and how to increase conversions on your website. Get complete insights on all your tests and elements, and deliver a superior website experience. 

Essentially a method for user experience research, A/B testing is slowly evolving and finding its place in marketers' profiles. Design, coding, and copies are something you create from scratch, but how can you keep improving on them? Run A/B tests. Learn more about user experience, design, color preferences, content that resonates more with your visitors, page layouts, and a lot more with A/B testing.

What is A/B testing?

A/B testing is the technique of comparing two different versions (A and B) of the same webpage to determine which one performs better. The versions are shown randomly to different users over the same timeframe. A/B test is not necessarily between just two variations. You can also create multiple variations, and these experiments are called A/B/n testing. 

By splitting the traffic between the two versions in the A/B testing process, you can analyze how your visitors interact and engage with these versions. This lets you determine the version that records higher visitor engagement or conversions. 

Applying the winning version optimizes the webpage for better performance. In simple terms, you can create different versions of your landing pages, and compare elements like headings, banners, CTAs, to understand what your audience prefers and deliver a better website experience.

Components of A/B Testing

When it comes to  A/B testing, it’s important to know the basic terminologies involved. When you run an A/B test, there are three components involved.

The Control: The control is the current page that you are looking to replace.

The Challenger: The challenger is a different version of the control with all the changes you want to test. The challenger is tested against the control to determine if the changes impact the engagement or conversions.

The Winner: The winner is the version that records the best conversion and engagement during your test. If your variant, version B records more conversions than the control, the variant is the winner and you can optimize your control to include changes in the variant.

Benefits of A/B testing

Reduce your website bounce rate

The bounce rate is a good indicator of your website's performance since it measures the number of visitors who bounced from your webpage. A high bounce rate could be because of no clear CTAs, too much/little information on the page, content not aligned with visitor's persona, and so on. With A/B testing you can make iterative changes to elements on your webpage and test them to find the better performing variant, and keep visitors on the page for longer.

Improve website user experience.

Every page on your website exists to serve a purpose, and if it fails to do so, it makes for a bad user experience. Think of all those times you visited a website to find something or take action, and it didn't let you do that easily. Every such interaction takes your visitor away from a meaningful engagement or conversion. With A/B tests, you can drive improvements in your user's journey. Start with setting hypotheses for changes and validate them with data from A/B testing.

Convert more of your recurring visitors.

As a marketer, you know the effort and time that goes into getting consistent, quality traffic. With A/B testing, you can maximize the ROI from your existing traffic by making small incremental changes over time.

Validate your website changes easily.

You'll never know how right your website redesign or changes are until your audience sees them. With real user data at hand, you can make website changes in a controlled manner. A/B testing ensures that you're aware of the impact of the changes before you make them live.

Drive continuous website improvement.

A/B testing allows you to think in terms of regular small, incremental changes, whether it's a change in the headline text, a new CTA copy, or a button placement change. The micro gains resulting from every such iteration add up to more significant improvements.

How to run an A/B test?

Just like any other marketing exercise, A/B testing requires a strategy. Having a systematic framework in place makes testing manageable and efficient. Here’s how you can go about it:

Do your research.

Before you start, look into the current state of your website. Use website analytics to know the current number of visitors, most visited pages, bounce rate, conversion rates, and so on. On a website front, check out what an average visitor session is like. The easiest way to do this is with heatmaps. Heatmaps show you where visitors spend the most time, their scrolling behavior, interaction with other page elements, clicks, etc. You can also use tools like session replay to see how a visitor interacts with your page. All this data helps you make better decisions.

Formulate a hypothesis.

The data you gathered will help you identify the problem(s) and leaks on your website. For instance, one of your pages has a lower than average conversion rate. You look into data to speculate what might be the reason and suspect that the value proposition is not compelling enough. Although purely conjecture, this becomes the hypothesis for your test, and the A/B test results will either prove or disprove your hypothesis.

Set a goal (baseline conversion rate).

Choose the primary metric that will determine the success of your hypothesis. A baseline conversion rate is the current conversion rate of the page you’re testing. The end goal of your experiments would be an increase in this value. You should also set a minimum detectable effect, which is a relative percentage of increase that you would like to see in your winning variation. You need to set this before you start your experiments so that you can estimate how long your tests should run, and how much traffic you might have to allocate.

Create a challenger to challenge the control page.

Once you have defined the hypothesis, you'd know what you want to change on the current webpage and the outcomes you expect. Use this information to set up an alternate version of the webpage. This version is called the challenger. The challenger will compete against the original version of your page, called the control.

Running A/B tests for pages with low traffic.

There will be instances where running an A/B test will not make sense. The marketers must learn to accept it and spend time on it. Think of a web page with about 500 visitors a month or a couple of conversions. Running an A/B test on it could take months to reach statistical significance. Even if you have a clear winner, in the end, you've spent a lot of time getting to that conclusion.

What all should you A/B test?

A/B testing opens up a lot of possibilities for optimization for marketers. There’s more to A/B testing other than experimenting button colors. You can test anything on your website that can have an impact on your visitor behavior. Here are some commonly tested elements, known to drive results.

Headlines, subheadings, and text

If you're deciding the page headlines and subheadlines without putting together 4-5 other options, you're not doing it right. Headlines greet your visitors as they land on the page and go a long way in deciding how well they'll engage and convert. 8 out of 10 visitors read just the headline and decide whether they are interested in reading it further. Your page copies also impact conversion. You can put various aspects to test in this case - long vs. short pieces, casual or formal tone, and so on. Call-to-action buttons

Call-to-action buttons

Your call-to-action could make or break a deal. It clearly defines the purpose of the web page. Even in emails, a single CTA increased clicks by 371%. CTAs are the starting point of conversion. They should be compelling enough for the visitor to take action. All factors like a copy, button style, color, placement on the page have an impact. You have a lot to test, and a lot more to gain out of it.

Page layouts

Should a particular section be above or below on the page? Should the image be followed by the CTA or the other way round? Page layout ideas are always up for debate. A/B testing different layouts can help you understand what works better and optimize conversions.