No matter how well-planned or sophisticated a digital marketing strategy may be, it requires continual testing, evaluation, and optimization if it is to remain effective and consistent over the long run. There are many different ways to test a lead generation campaign, and all have their value, but an A/B test remains among the simplest and the most effective, and should be a part of any comprehensive approach. It’s one of the easiest ways to obtain fast and measurable results that can often be acted on immediately.
What is an A/B Test?
A/B testing, also known as split testing, is nothing more than testing one version of something against another to find out which one works best. Just about anything can be A/B tested. For example, two different themes for a Facebook or Twitter page, subject lines in an e-mail, or different layouts for a homepage or landing page. Each version is shown to a certain number of users and the response rate measured. The most effective version wins the contest! One version will outperform another for any number of reasons; for instance, perhaps a page is more intuitively navigated, or has more visual or emotional appeal. Whatever reason the reason, in most cases it can’t be reliably predicted, so we test!
The big benefit of an A/B test is that it can improve lead generation and conversion rates without necessarily increasing traffic (and your spend), but by simply generating a greater response to specific elements.
Planning an A/B Test
When considering an A/B test, it is worth taking a little time to plan and ask some key questions. What is currently happening? What would you like to see change?
Think through your overall goal, such as, increase the number of downloads on that killer eBook, in turn increasing your lead volume. Next consider what aspects of that campaign can be tested and if there are any obstacles in your way. Then you can prioritize your testing scenarios.
What touch point would be the most effective to meet your goal of increasing eBook downloads–your landing page for that eBook? The ads driving people to that landing page? The email campaign associated with that eBook?
Are there any obstacles in place that would make testing one of those things more difficult? How easily can you access those things to make changes? What are the costs involved vs the potential benefits of improvement?
Once you have answered these questions and set a plan in place, you can move past any objections for the test and focus on the easiest and most effective aspect of the campaign. Once you know what aspect you are testing, you can then determine what variables you would like to test!
What Things Can I A/B Test?
As stated earlier, almost anything can be tested with this method, but for purposes of traffic growth and increased lead generation and conversion rates, A/B testing best practices generally focus on the following fundamental elements:
- Landing Page/ Home Pages Layout- The layout and overall appearance of these pages can have a drastic affect on user response. Different headlines, different placement, different image. These things can all be variables for testing.
- CTA Buttons – A call-to-action button or link has to make a user want to click it. You might be interested to see if the location on the page, style of button, or the wording associated with it has any affect on the conversion rate.
- Forms – If an information form is too lengthy, or if it asks too many questions or perhaps questions that a user may be uncomfortable answering, it can cause a user to abandon the process.
- Graphics – Graphics and images can be appealing or annoying, distracting or supportive, generate enthusiasm or perhaps be a turn off. For example, in some instances users will respond well to a slideshow above the fold on the homepage, in others it becomes an annoying distraction from the message. Testing will tell you!
- Pricing – Perhaps your price point is a little too high; or, if your page is converting nicely, what would happen if you bumped your price point up?
- Length of Content – Are people losing interest because your content is simply too long? Try a shorter version to see if that gets people to take action faster. The opposite problem may also be true–your content may need to be a little longer and more compelling to get someone to sign up.
Best Practices for an A/B Test
- Test one thing at a time! It is important with an A/B test to focus on one change at a time. Don’t change up a headline AND a call-to-action, for example, as you won’t know if it is the headline OR the call-to-action that is working.
- Know your baselines and remember the ultimate goal: Before you start, be sure you know what your current results are (if any). Not only will you want to test version A against version B, but you will want to see if any of those are performing better than what you currently had. And remember to not lose sight of your ultimate goal. Ensure that what you are testing is always relevant to the desired outcome from your AB test in the first place.
- Let it run…then don’t forget to stop it: The length of time for testing can vary, but it is often smart to run most tests for a few weeks. You want to allow plenty of time to attract enough visitors to see true variances, but not so long as then it negates the point of the A/B test: discovering what is working to make cost effective changes!
A/B Test for the WIN!
Successful A/B testing is powerful–it can quickly boost bottom line since it allows you to strategically place those marketing dollars in the right bucket. As you start to get comfortable with testing, and have the opportunity to see that one small change potentially doubles your conversion rate, it may be difficult to justify any campaign without running a few A/B tests–it can be a gamechanger!
There are many platforms out there to help you test various elements within your marketing efforts. Measure Media is an Optimizely Solutions Partner, as this website and mobile optimization platform is a huge part of our client service offering. Services such as Instapage for the design and execution of landing pages for various marketing campaigns, allow you to set up different versions to AB test right within the platform itself. Many email marketing platforms–one of our favorite being MailChimp–allow you to do the same thing.
Have you had some success with running an A/B test? What was the biggest thing you have learned? We would love to hear from you. And as always–we are here to help!