Marketing can be expensive. If you’re a small or medium business, you need to know that your limited budget and resources are being directed into a practice that will deliver the best ROI.
But how can you make sure that all aspects of your marketing are being as effective as they possibly can be? The secret ingredient your competitors are using is A/B testing, or split testing. This method of measuring your content is just one way to make sure you’re not marketing in the dark.
A/B testing allows you to create two versions of one marketing material while changing just one or two variants; much like a classic science experiment you might remember from high school. Optimizely, the most well-known of online split testing providers, provides the following definition:
“A/B testing is a simple way to test changes to your page against the current design and determine which ones produce positive results. It is a method to validate that any new design or change to an element on your webpage is improving your conversion rate before you make that change to your site code.”
In other words, this method allows you to split your audience between two versions of the same thing, whether that be Facebook ads or direct mail pieces, and measure which one performs the best in terms of clicks or conversion rates.
Using this knowledge, you can gradually direct all of your customers to the more successful variant. For creative marketers, A/B testing can sound like an alien and specific concept, but it’s been widely used in many industries to yield impressive results: e-commerce giants E-bay and Amazon are known to successfully deploy A/B testing techniques.
You can use A/B testing to test just about anything, but the most valuable things to test will depend mostly on your business and what you’re looking to achieve. Common variables include the following:
So, what are the benefits?
That bold new idea you can’t quite bring your stakeholders round to investing in? Imagine if you could test it and show them the evidence first. A/B testing allows you to put numbers and statistics behind new ideas before you roll them out permanently.
When you look for variables to test, you inevitably pick up on tiny nuances in your content or ads that you might not have notice beforehand. Every word, image and placement is scrutinised and questioned. This is bound to make you to take a step back and think about why you create content in the way that you do, leading to better and more informed decisions in the future.
You might feel your current strategy is working well for you and therefore there’s no need for you to pursue A/B testing. However, how do you know that your current strategy is the most effective route? Only by comparing two very similar strategies in which only one or two elements have been changed can you identify the specific components which work for you, and the ones that don’t.
If you’re wondering whether A/B split testing is worth the research and resource you’ll need to put behind it, keep in mind that even the smallest decisions you make on your website or marketing materials are having a huge impact on your conversion rates. Lets’ take web development company Carsonified as an example – they used A/B split testing to measure the comparative success of abstract images and human ones. They found that human photos almost double conversion rates, allowing them to use this learning and roll it out across the rest of their communications.
A/B Split testing can inform those small yet vital decisions we all often make without any evidence to back them up.
Firstly, it’s important to decide what your goals are, and what you’d like to measure to prevent you from testing every tiny detail in your communications. Start with a few key leanings, and build from there.
If you’re using A/B testing for your online advertising, Facebook ads and Google Ad words both provide A/B testing services; as do most other ad-serving providers. When creating your samples, it’s often the case that the more you have, the better. In other words, the more data you can accumulate, the more accurate your results will be.
Despite the many benefits of A/B testing discussed above, focusing so much on minute details means that it’s easy for you to lose sight of your holistic marketing strategy.
Once you’ve tweaked your ad, website or email a number of times, there’s only going to be a limited growth of success from this point. In other words, you are likely to reach a plateau, and it’s a skill to know when to stop tirelessly testing every detail.
As complicated and scientific as A/B testing might initially sound, once you start testing your variables and putting figures behind what works and what doesn’t, you’ll soon find it pays off in conversion rates.