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A/B Testing for Website Optimization

If you’re like us you’re continually looking for ways to make website improvements. Do you find yourself wondering why you’re not getting the conversion results you expected on a landing page?

Want to test out a theory you have on ways to reduce the bounce rate on a particular page? A/B testing may be just the thing you need to help make decisions based on data and real user behavior.

What is A/B Testing for a Website?

A/B testing is a way of comparing two versions against one another in order to determine whether option A or option B is better. That sounds simple but also vague and perhaps confusing so let’s break it down further. We’ve put together some guidelines to help you determine how you could incorporate A/B testing into your marketing plan.

Creating a Website A/B Test

To create an effective A/B test you need to clearly identify a goal. Let’s say you have a page on your website about your product. On this page you have a description of your product at the top of the page and below that is a ‘Request a Demo’ button. You were expecting this to generate more leads than it has over the last quarter and you are looking for ways to improve this. You have a hunch that the ‘Request a Demo’ button may not be as compelling or visible to users as it could be and think that by moving it to another location on the page –  like the upper right hand corner – could work better, resulting in a higher conversion rate. 

By using A/B testing you could show visitors to your website, option A with the ‘Request a Demo’ button as is (the current layout – below the product description) and option B with the ‘Request a Demo’ button in the upper right corner of the page. Your goal would be to determine whether option A or option B generates more ‘Request a Demo’ leads. 

It’s easy to get carried away and start to list out all the ways you think you could make improvements to this page to increase the leads. This is where some patience is key. It’s hard to compare apples to oranges, but much easier to compare apples to apples. Pick ONE thing to change and keep everything else EXACTLY the same. You’ll notice in the example I mentioned above, the only thing I mentioned changing was the location of the ‘Request a Demo’ button. That one small change is all you need for an effective and clear A/B test. 

Once you have a clear goal and plan for the A/B test you’ll need to use an A/B testing tool. While it’s not the only tool out there, we like to use Google Optimize to set up and run our A/B testing. Once you have your goal and test setup, it does the work of equally showing half of your site visitors option A and the other half option B. It’s also smart enough to run the test long enough to show both options to enough people to gather reasonable feedback and let you know once there is enough data to choose a winner. The A/B test will determine whether option A or option B is more effective at meeting the goal you set. There’s also a chance the test may determine that neither option is clearly much better than the other. 

No matter the results of your A/B test, you’ll be given feedback based on real data that can help prove or disprove that hunch you’ve been wondering about. Once you know that you can determine next steps. Perhaps you reevaluate your CTA buttons across the entire site based on your A/B test results, perhaps you run another A/B test on another area of the same page. 

A/B Testing Website Examples

The example above applies to the placement of a CTA button. However, the possibilities of A/B testing across your brand’s website are endless, so what are some of the best ways to utilize A/B testing to get the most out of your efforts? 

For higher converting CTAs, consider not just the placement of the button, but the visuals including the size and color. Another test we’re keen on using with clients? The actual copy of your call-to-action. Try Request a Demo vs. Let’s Chat. There are any number of reasons one message over another will appeal more to your particular target audience. 

The hero section of your homepage and other top landing pages on your website is another place where an A/B test can help. We’ve seen many versions of A/B testing to determine the headline of a page and the design of the hero section. Specifics such as colors, images or videos can make a difference in whether or not a user is drawn in and engages with your brand or leaves to check out a competitor.

Another example is testing on your main contact us page. The options here include testing the number of fields in the form, the copy on this page to encourage users to fill it out and the layout of the page itself, including the placement of the form.

Ongoing A/B Testing

The best part of A/B testing is that it allows for incremental improvements to your website over time. That is, if your marketing team makes it an ongoing habit. And this is exactly what we see successful marketing teams doing. Because you’ll need to test only one element at any one time, continuous A/B testing allows for you to make an update after one test and then move on to another test so that you can improve continuously. This not only keeps your website up to date, but will help you reach your goals and provide your audience with a better visitor experience.

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