Let’s talk about A/B tests…
They’re also known as split tests in digital marketing circles. And simply put, it’s when you run an experiment to test two different ideas you might have.
But for this article I’d like to show you exactly what A/B tests are, what you can split test, and real examples we’ve ran here at Startupbros.
Hopefully by the end of this article you’ll feel confident enough to start running your own A/B tests and see the importance of doing them all the time.
Here’s What We’re Covering:
- What is A/B Testing
- What Can You Test with an A/B Test?
- How Do You Perform an A/B Test?
- How Long Does an A/B Test Take?
- A/B Testing Examples
- A/B Testing Tools
What is A/B Testing?
A/B testing is when you want to see which variations of headlines, images, website layouts or marketing elements convince users to engage with your website better.
First, you start with an idea you think works and test it against a variation of that initial idea. And once enough users engage with the test you select a winner.
Ideally this results in more email sign ups, more revenue or more engagement with your website.
And in digital marketing there are only two ways for your website to make more money.
- Drive more visitors (traffic) to your website
- Convert more visitors into customers
Those are the only levers you have to work with. So, A/B testing is how you turn more existing visitors into customers.
Now that you know what A/B testing is, I want to show you exactly what sorts of things you can test. The goal here is to grow your business without increasing your traffic.
What Can You Test with an A/B Test?
We compiled a list of 12 things you should test on your website right away if you want to grow your business. Here they are:
- Domain Name
- Lead Magnets
- Button Color
- Button Text
- Email Subject Lines
- Sales Offers
- Website Layout
- Calls to Action
This list can go on for a while but even just focusing on these large elements of your website can have massive effects on your conversions.
You don’t want to get stuck here. When you’re running a business execution is what’s most important. This means that you shouldn’t get stuck figuring out what to test. Take your best guess, put it out into the world and then test your assumptions.
Let’s move on to actually running the split test…
How Do You Perform an A/B Test?
The most important thing to remember about A/B testing is that you should only test one thing at a time. You don’t want to change your headline and button text in the same test because you won’t know what change had the biggest effect.
You need to be patient and understand that testing takes time and a lot of data to be effective. So, taking your time guarantees that you choose the best split test winner.
There is a 5 step process to running a split test:
- Define a metric you want to improve
- Come up with a hypothesis to test
- Determine which specific variable you need to change
- Start your experiment
- Analyze your results
Let’s say you want to test an offer you’re making on your website. The first thing you do is decide on a metric you want to improve. In this example we’re going to use our homepage as an example.
Here’s the original homepage we wanted to improve:
Step 1: Define the Metric – Email Sign Ups
We knew there was a better way to collect emails on our website. This form was converting fine but we wanted to improve.
Email sign ups is the metric we chose to measure the success of this test.
Step 2: Test a Hypothesis (Idea) – Provide Better Offer
The idea we had was that a better offer would help guide our audience to want to sign up and receive our emails.
Remember that A/B tests are supposed to be simple and only minimal changes can be made.
Step 3: Determine Which Variable to Change – Value Proposition
In the original offer we were trying to give people an eBook about becoming a better entrepreneur. But people weren’t interested in that offer before they knew us or even knew if they wanted to take our advice.
So to gain the readers trust we changed the value proposition. The value they would be getting for trusting us is the results of a quiz that tells them what kind of entrepreneur they should be based on their preferences.
We made the value proposition about the visitor, helping them understand themselves better. Our hypothesis was that focusing on guiding the reader in their journey was more important than just giving them an eBook so early in the process.
Step 4: Start Your Experiment
We ran this split test a little bit differently than most people would. We already knew that the original opt in form was severely under performing.
So to start the test we just completely scrapped the form and created a new one from scratch. It’s normally a good idea to run the tests side by side but when you already have data that something is just terrible it’s good to just kill it.
Step 5: Analyze Your Results
Our results were eye opening.
If you noticed in the previous section for the whole month of August we collected 94 total emails. In general we already had an idea this was way too low because our homepage receives a significant amount of traffic.
After running with the experiment for 30 days, the quiz brought in 318 email sign ups!
That’s an increase of 245.652%…
There were also other metrics we weren’t testing for that improved. Since more people were taking the quiz and staying on the homepage longer the bounce rate on the site improved by 12%!
Bounce rate is the percentage of people that land on a page and immediately leave. The quiz lowered that metric naturally since visitors stayed on the page longer to fill out the form.
It wasn’t something we were looking to improve but it sure does help the site.
Now, for the next experiment what we can do is change the headline of the new offer and test it against this current winner. Or we could change the button text to say “Click here to start” and see which one people prefer to click more.
Since we have an offer that works now, we can make simple changes to improve the click through. The improvements won’t be as big as 245% but every change for the better is worth making.
How Long Does an A/B Test Take?
A split test needs to take as long as it needs to get statistically significant information. We ran our test for 30 days and for us that was enough because there were 4500 visitors to that one page in that time.
But if your page is only getting 200 visitors per month it might take a while before you get some meaningful results.
You want to give your test enough time (30 days or more ) or enough traffic (at least 2,000 visits) before making a decision.
A/B Testing Tools
- Visual Website Optimizer
- Google Analytics
Wrapping This Up…
A/B testing is the best way to test changes you want to make on your website or eCommerce store. There’s no emotion behind the decisions because you have raw data to back you up.
Don’t just do a single test and think you’re done. Split testing should be a part of your overall marketing strategy. Some companies even hire a person full time to only perform A/B tests.
If you’re always testing then you’re always improving your business.
Remember to test influential things like offers, button text, page headlines, sales pages and website colors.
It’s also possible to test your website layout, images and navigation elements.
You can test any part of your business because A/B testing is not limited to your website. If you send emails you can test your subject lines and offers you make inside your emails.
A/B testing isn’t restricted to your website. You can apply this strategy to your email marketing campaigns as well.
Keep track of all your tests in a spreadsheet and go back every 6 months to test everything again.
Because the truth is that most problems in business can be solved by making small improvements daily that can add up to big results.
Think about starting your next split test soon and I promise you’ll see some awesome results. Don’t forget to email me and ask any question you might have! I’ve been right where you are…
You can email me Will@startupbros(dot)com. I guarantee you that the more you test the more space you’ll gain between you and your competition.