If you are involved in a business looking to squeeze every ounce of conversion potential from a shiny new website, A/B testing may just be the tool for you.
So, what is it?
A/B testing (often referred to as split testing) is the process of comparing two versions of a web page, call to action button or any other element of your website and implementing the highest performing version, based on the results achieved throughout testing.
The most important benefit of this perfectionist’s dream is the ability to obtain quantifiable data on that specific variant that is most likely to make visitors convert, rather than basing design choices on pure subjectivity.
Dividing your website’s visitors into two evenly sized groups and exposing them to different content via this method will provide you with the numbers you need to make worthwhile changes to your domain.
Of course, the word ‘conversion’ means different things to different companies.
For instance, you may wish to compare which variant of an “Add to Basket” call to action is most likely to make users add products to their basket (and you’d be surprised how much of a difference this can make).
On a less granular level, A/B testing can even be used to improve entire landing pages by reducing bounce rates, extend the average session time and generally help visitors explore more of your site.
Improving the structure of navigation menus, adding copy to pages and changing images are all relatively simple changes which can massively influence your analytics data and A/B testing allows you to pinpoint whether or not these will be advantageous to your objectives.
THERE’S ALWAYS ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT
So once you’ve created the perfect page, full of attractive assets and engaging content – that’s it surely?
A/B testing allows you to take your best work and continue to fine tune it.
It’s almost impossible for someone to discover the unequivocally perfect page layout for getting visitors to find a contact form and click the Holy Grail which is the ‘Submit’ button on their first go, so, why not try a different approach?
Using this progressive methodology affords you the ability to turn a great looking website into one which also helps drive business – providing you with the perfect amalgamation of form and function.
A/B testing also allows you to gain a deeper insight into your demographic and their interests by providing you with information on their preferred colour schemes, images, copy density and more.
IS IT WORTH IT?
Abrupt response aside, A/B testing is an extremely powerful tool to add to your marketing arsenal.
Still not convinced? Here are some examples of household names that have seen massive improvements from optimising their site.
EA Games managed to increase pre-orders of its popular simulation video game SimCity by 43.4% simply by removing a promotional offer banner image displayed at the top of the page.
Not only was this a relatively simple way to increase sales, it also provided the company with information showing how users were put off by the imperative language of the previous sales tactic.
Electronics giant Sony also utilised A/B testing to great effect by simplifying the e-commerce portion of its website.
Decreasing the number of mandatory fields, shortening product descriptions and adding more intuitive features to the checkout section helped drive orders by 20.6% - all through the help of a simple split testing project.
Scared about Google bots hating you for creating two (almost) identical pages? Don’t be.
Google has openly expressed its approval of this form of conversion optimisation so you can be safe in the knowledge your efforts will not become a double edged sword and damage your rankings.
Following a few simple rules such as implementing temporary 302 redirects and conducting your test in a timely manner will help you to avoid ranking penalties maintain a harmonious standing with everyone’s favourite search engine.
In short, if you aren’t actively using A/B testing to deceive the search engines, you’re in the clear.
If you have encountered issues with high bounce rate on a particular page, unsatisfactory e-commerce performance or simply feel your website isn’t working the way you want it to, it may be time to try out A/B testing.