What is A/B Testing and How Does it Work?
Published 2021-02-22T06:00:28 by Bryan Miller
For any business to be successful at appealing to modern customers, they will need to adapt to the latest trends and techniques pertaining to web design. Because of the large number of websites that exist on the internet, customers can instantly choose to take their business elsewhere if they aren’t provided with an appealing design or a premium user experience. If you want to be certain that the design of your website is appealing to your target audience, it’s highly recommended that you perform extensive A/B testing.
A/B testing is a technique that’s commonly used to compare two separate variants of the exact same web page. Each variant is displayed to a different portion of your site visitors at the same time. You will then be able to determine which site page has the most conversions. When a user performs an action on your website, this is referred to as a conversion. By optimizing your website with A/B testing, you should be able to increase conversion rates on your website.
High conversion rates are important because they will invariably allow your business and brand to grow and gain more success. A/B testing has proven to be very important for conversion rate optimization, which is referred to as CRO. It’s important to understand that A/B tests give you the ability to obtain qualitative and quantitative data, which makes it easier to understand your customers and enhance your optimization. While there are many different tools that you can use to perform A/B testing, some of the most effective ones can be used for free. These tools include:
Each of these programs will provide you with the functionality you need to perform A/B testing. There are also many premium programs that cost some money to use but offer expanded functionality. These programs include everything from Optimizely to VWO. This article provides a detailed guide to A/B testing and what it can do for your website.
The Purpose of A/B Testing
There are many reasons why it’s important for businesses to perform A/B testing, the primary of which is that this testing can help businesses improve conversion rates on their websites. Without A/B testing, you may find it difficult to make changes and improvements to your website that satisfy your main audience. Keep in mind that there are two basic A/B tests that you can perform for your website, which include design tests and user experience tests. When testing the design of your website, your primary goal should be to enhance the visual design and appearance of your website.
On the other hand, user experience testing is meant to help you identify facets of the user experience that need to be improved, which could be anything from the speed of your website to the navigational elements of your site. Different types of businesses require A/B testing for different reasons. For instance, B2B businesses may be receiving high amounts of unqualified leads. By optimizing and improving their website, a B2B business should be able to increase the number of qualified leads that they obtain.
As for eCommerce websites, it’s common to experience high cart-abandonment rates. Whether the checkout process is too complicated or buyers become wary about buying your product while on the payment page, it’s essential that you identify the reasons why your conversions aren’t as high as you would like them to be. A/B testing gives you the opportunity to pinpoint the exact reasons for the poor performance.
Visitor Pain Points
When a user enters your website, it’s important that they are able to get where they want to go without issue or delay. A key facet of website optimization is making sure that the conversion funnel is positioned perfectly on your site. The point of a conversion funnel is to get a user from point A to point B, the latter of which would be the desired action that you want the user to take. If you want visitors to your site to purchase a product, it’s important that they can get from your landing page to the checkout page without experiencing any problems.
No matter what goal the user has, they can experience different pain points throughout the conversion funnel if your website is poorly optimized. Maybe the “checkout now” button is hard to find or the product page is slow to load. The proper placement of CTA’s is particularly important if you want to convert site visitors into customers. When a visitor to your website is unable to perform the desired action, they will have a poor user experience, which can damage your brand reputation and worsen conversion rates. If you want to identify the aspects of your website that may need improvement, use website surveys, Google Analytics, and heatmaps to resolve the pain points that site visitors currently have.
Easily Redesign Your Website
Whether your website design is old and outdated or you want to rebrand your company, there are many reasons why you may want to redesign your website. When you set out to change the design of your website, conducting regular A/B tests can provide you with the results you need to create a premium website that speaks to the interests of your target audience. The best aspect of using A/B tests to redesign your website is that you can perform a large number of tests in a short period of time. Make sure that the test participants match your primary audience.
Data-driven results are highly important if you want your customers to enjoy using your website. For instance, the results you obtain from the A/B tests can be used to make sure that the site performance is acceptable. While many businesses choose to redesign their entire site, you could also focus on implementing minor redesigns to enhance a website that already has a great design. Minor redesigns could be anything from changing the background colors of your web pages to altering CTA text throughout your website. Once you’ve conducted A/B tests and have finalized the design, you’ll still want to perform some testing once the website goes live to make sure that your website is as engaging and appealing as it can be.
Greater ROI From Existing Traffic
Running a website doesn’t have to take up too much of the budget that your business has. With the right moves, you can increase traffic and enhance site visibility without spending a substantial sum of money. To get the most of your website, it’s important that you focus on how you spend your money. A/B testing gives you the ability to obtain a greater ROI from your existing traffic. ROI stands for return on investment.
When you spend some of your budget on marketing materials, your main goal should be to obtain a high ROI, which means that the marketing materials would bring in a large number of new customers. If you use your existing customers when performing A/B testing, you can determine which improvements matter most to these customers. It’s also possible to increase CRO without needing to spend money on bringing in new traffic. High ROI is a possibility with A/B testing because small design changes can lead to a sizable increase in conversions.
Many website owners will choose to redesign the entire page when it isn’t performing well. While a complete redesign may be necessary if your business is rebranding, it’s likely that minor and low-risk modifications would be enough to boost your conversion rates. Since A/B testing can be performed on any aspect of a site page, you could focus mainly on minimal modifications that would bring in an increased ROI.
For instance, you may want to make changes to your product descriptions. Instead of making these changes without any input, A/B testing allows you to identify how users will react to the changes before they are final. If you’re introducing a new feature to your website, it’s highly recommended that you initially launch the feature in an A/B test to gain the necessary feedback. With this feedback in hand, you can be confident that your changes will be well-regarded by your core audience.
Reduce Bounce Rate
Likely the easiest way to measure the success or failure of your website is by looking at the bounce rate of each page and component on your site. The bounce rate represents the overall percentage of site visitors who enter your website and leave before taking an action. If the bounce rate is high for a product page, it’s possible that your product description is poorly written or that the images for your product aren’t clear and detailed.
Bounce rates allow you to detect what the problem areas of your website are. When you perform A/B tests, you can easily identify which areas of your pages and website have high bounce rates. If one variant of a website is preferred over the other variant, this means that the bounce rate would be lower. If you want visitors to remain on your website long enough to make a purchase or subscribe to a newsletter, it’s essential that you keep bounce rates low.
How A/B Testing Works
When you want to begin running A/B tests, it’s recommended that you adhere to a structured framework for the tests. The steps involved with this framework include:
- Collect the right data – The data that you obtain from Google Analytics and other tools can be used to conduct A/B tests. These tests should occur on pages with high bounce rates or particularly low conversion rates.
- Identify your goals – Make sure that you determine what your conversion goals will be, which will make it easier for you to identify which variation of a component is most successful.
- Generate ideas – Now that you have a goal in mind, you can start formulating ideas on what you believe will improve a poorly performing facet of your website. When you have enough ideas, rank them by importance.
- Create design variations – With the A/B software of your choice, make changes to a specific component of your website to create different variations of an existing page. You could alter the text of a CTA or hide elements of navigation. The majority of tools for A/B testing allow you to make these variations with ease.
- Run A/B tests – Now is the time for you to perform your A/B tests with the right participants. At this point, site visitors will be assigned to one of the two variations. How they interact with the variation will dictate which one performs better.
- Analyze your results – With the results in hand, you can analyze the data that you’ve accrued from these tests. If the bounce rates are substantially lower for one variation, that would be the variation that you should choose.
Areas You Can A/B Test on Your Website
- The written copy on your site, which includes headlines, sub-headlines, meta information, and the body
- Many different design and layout elements, which extend to videos, images, and page layouts
- Navigation elements
- Each CTA
While A/B testing is relatively straightforward, it’s important that you avoid certain mistakes while performing these tests. For instance, make sure that you don’t perform a large number of tests at once. Any changes that you make to your website should be reflected in future A/B tests. By performing numerous tests at once, it can be impossible to identify which aspect of your website is behind the failure or success of the test.
It’s also important that you use the right tools when conducting these tests. Some tools can worsen site performance or provide inadequate qualitative data. Keep in mind that external factors can play a part in site performance. If you compare site traffic on standard weekdays to the site traffic that you receive on holidays, you would likely end up with the wrong conclusions. Every variable should have similar parameters if you want precise results.
A/B testing can be the difference between a successful website and one that requires an entire redesign to remain visible. When you perform tests on a regular basis, you can keep your website updated and enhanced to ensure that visitors to your website remain engaged.
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