As every business strives towards achieving increased conversion rates, various testing methods that are both objective and data driven typically are implemented in order to attain this goal. A/B testing is one of the methods used by businesses to test different versions of a website in order to determine which version performs better. It is a side-by-side comparison between 2 different webpages so as to draw insights that are provided by each version of the webpage.
When the multiple versions are compared, random, and statistical analysis is used to decide which version is more effective at achieving the conversion goals that are specified by the business.
How A/B Testing Works
A typical A/B test involves taking a webpage or app screen and modifying it to create a second version of the original page. The change that is carried out can involve either changing a headline or button or completely redesigning the page. Typically, marketers like to make small changes with each test to make sure that they understand what is causing the difference in behavior and can be confident in their decisions moving forward. If too many changes are made at the same time, it will confuse the results and it will be difficult to know what changes influenced the visitor. After the adequate modification is carried out, a portion (maybe as much as half, or more) of the website traffic is directed towards the original version of the page (this is the control page), and another percentage of the traffic is directed towards the new version of the page (the variant/variation).
Customer interactions with each version of the page are carefully tracked and the results are collected and analyzed using analytical tools. Many different performance indicators can be tracked, such as incoming traffic, click-through rates, time spent on specific webpages, among others. The data collected is then analyzed via statistical engines and other appropriate tools, after which results can be interpreted. The business can determine if the different experience had a net positive or negative effect.
Measuring Conversion Rates
The key performance indicator that is normally used for A/B testing is the conversion rate. The goal of any business is to get its prospects to engage more with its products and services. They aspire to gain more from their visitors than just visits and a few clicks here and there. Therefore, the rate at which website visitors can be converted from simply being visitors to something else is called the “conversion rate”. The webpage version that yields higher conversion rates is essentially the one that the business will choose to implement.
Your business will have different criteria for measuring conversion rates, depending on the nature of your business. eCommerce sites can use product sales as a means of measuring conversion rates, SaaS sites can use trial or subscription rates to their applications, and news and media sites can use click rates in ads or the number of paid subscriptions as a result of the website change.
Steps Involved in A/B testing
Before a business dives into an A/B testing framework, it should clearly define its goals and develop a detailed and strategic plan that will make the testing process proceed objectively. A successful A/B testing process typically involves the following steps:
Every business should have a reason for wanting to test a new version of a specific webpage. It could be that the current webpage design is unattractive, certain links are not being clicked on enough, or the redirect pages as a result of those clicks are not relevant to incoming traffic.
The business should specifically identify the problem that they want to address even before they begin to contemplate on possible solutions.
Research and brainstorming
The next step involves conducting research into the problem that is being experienced and brainstorming possible solutions. For example, if a certain webpage layout is not yielding the desired outcome, the business can carry out research into different designs that they can incorporate, and the likely results that these new designs are likely to yield.
Therefore, rather than a random process of trying out solutions, research allows the company to try out specific solutions that have been proven to work for other similar situations.
A clearly defined hypothesis
A hypothesis is a possible explanation for why something occurs the way it does. In the case of A/B testing, a possible hypothesis statement can be “a webpage with more detailed product pictures yields higher purchase rates.” Another possible hypothesis could be “a contact us button on the top right corner leads to higher subscription rates by customers”. The hypothesis should be specific, clearly defined and easy to understand/measure.
Now it is time to launch the two different versions of the webpage. The version that incoming traffic experience can be varied based on time, customer behavior, or through the use of different URLs. As long as the testing process is truly randomized, accurate results can be collected.
Data analysis and reporting of results
Once the desired threshold of data has been collected, it can be analyzed through statistical tools that are relevant and objective to the data. Tools that generate visual data such as graphs, pie charts and other distributions are the best to use so that decision makers can get a clear glance of the trends that are signified by the data.
Importance of A/B Testing for Website Optimization
Continuous improvement is an important component of website optimization. In order for a company’s website to be effective at driving traffic and converting leads, it needs to slowly adapt to visitor behavior and the trends of the industry surrounding the business.
As small changes (driven by objective data) are implemented to specific components of webpages, the final product is a summation of all the individual changes that yields an improved and optimized website. This in turn leads to increased conversion rates for the business because the new webpage will attract more traffic.
Increased Conversion Rates
A/B testing is critical for website optimization because it leads to increased conversion rates. One of the main objectives of carrying out an A/B test is to determine which webpage version is more effective at converting traffic.
Therefore, the comparisons end up yielding results that show which particular webpage version drives more traffic than the other. The business can implement this more effective version and reap the fruits of increased conversion rates.
Better Understanding of your target audience
A/B testing is a great way of gaining a better understanding of your target audience. As a business takes the time to identify the problems that it is currently facing with its website, as well as brainstorming possible solutions, the company ends up gaining a deeper knowledge of the needs that its customers desire.
In addition, by researching possible solutions to current website challenges, testing those solutions and obtaining objective results; the business can optimize its webpages by implementing changes that are backed by data and are guaranteed to yield results. This is a much more efficient process of solving problems that are facing the business.
Test multiple components of a Webpage
A/B testing allows a business to sequentially test all the components that are included on their webpages in order to determine the most effective option for each component. For example, a business can begin by testing headlines, text, links and images, after which it can proceed to test CTAs, testimonials and even text within the webpages.
Such a thorough and comprehensive testing model allows the business to optimize its webpages in a manner that attracts and converts traffic. Each component will have been tested in order to determine the most appropriate and effective design for the business.