How to Use A/B Testing to Determine What Really Works.
By Stacy Ketiku
Every day of our lives we find ourselves caught in between making decisions and doing a couple of guesswork. However, in business, guesswork can’t absolutely be relied on because we can never always be right about what our clients want or what attracts them to our brand. Everything you create as a brand should be aimed towards making your customer feel important and ultimately providing a solution for them. Have you ever stopped to find out whether you are also creating more problems for them while trying to proffer them with solutions? You can’t tell until you find out and pay more attention to things like colour, font, text length, graphics and other elements which you might think are pretty insignificant.
In digital marketing, every strategy you employ has goals and metrics which is used to measure performance, but, how can you know want works well if you stick to a single method without finding out if these prospects will be more interested in something else? This brings us to A/B testing and how it helps you make decisions based on proven data and facts. The concept of A/B testing is a marketing experiment where you get to split your audience to test variations of your marketing campaign and determine which performs better.
Basis of A/B Testing
An authority in the digital media industry once produced statistics to prove that video content sells a brand better than written content, however, he failed to mention what industry he got such statistics from or who their target audience was. Factually speaking, you shouldn’t use what works for an unknown business or unrelated brand to set the pace for yours because several factors can affect the performance of your campaign as well as your audience response to it. This gives you a reason to invest in A/B testing. Just before you begin to think that this experiment is a waste of time, think about all the people who have landed on your page and walked away in no time without performing any action, or those who have engaged with your brand but failed to make a purchase. Do you realise how much money you have left on the table by not serving prospects what they are searching for?
You can test virtually every element on your page, including, headlines, images, white space, call-to-action button, font, text length, tone of the copy, and every other communication element. When a test is done, you would discover that what you initially thought was the absolute best for your audience is far from what they desire. Moreover, you are an evolving business and you shouldn’t expect that the concept you found successful 2 years ago will continually produce similar results.
How to Perform An A/B Test
It’s the 21st century and the growth of your business shouldn’t be left in the hands of few individuals like, friends, family, and employees who are likely to give you bias results and observations about your page or campaign. You need a relevant audience to help you know what works and what should be worked on.
Record Current Performance.
The essence of this experiment is to test what works and the only way to get accurate results is by knowing your current statistics, therefore, you must have all your records handy. For ease of identification, we’ll call your existing campaign or page the Control, the variant or new version will be named Challenger, while the variant which emerges as the winner will be referred to as Champion. Let’s move on.
Determine your Goals
Remember we have previously discussed the importance of setting advertising goals/objectives; similarly, you need to have goals before starting a test. You must know where your business currently stands and envision what you want to gain from carrying out an A/B test. Without goals, you wouldn’t know what metrics to look out for and how to measure them. Basically, your goals could be to improve your conversion rate, increase your website traffic and engagement, or to reduce your bounce rate; it really could be anything that would determine the success or progress of your marketing effort.
Create A Variant
It is advisable that you choose a single element to test in each experiment, this means that if you are testing the suitability of your headline, you will create a Variant with a different headline from that in the Control campaign. When each element is tested individually, you will be able to ascertain which of the elements in the variants has led to an increase of decrease in performance.
Begin the Test
You might not be able to manually coordinate or keep up with the experiment so you can make use of tools available for the purpose of A/B testing; some familiar ones are Google Optimize and Optimizely. These tools work by showing each variant to the same number of page users in order to get accurate results. It is great to run the test for a considerable number of days; if you test for a few days, you might not get enough data to determine your results. At the same time, running a test for too many days would also give you results that can’t really be measured; 2-3 weeks is perfect depending on the number of users your page usually gets.
If you are using an A/B testing tool to carry out your experiment, you will have your statistics recorded on your dashboard so go ahead to collate them and determine which variant emerges as the Champion based on your goals.
Now that you have successfully run a test to determine what your customers like and which of your campaign variants generate the buzz you desire, you will need to keep performing this experiment periodically. Clients are unpredictable and various platforms change their algorithm from time to time which may also affect your client’s response towards your brand or message. Don’t stop A/B testing! Remember that the true way to evaluate your conversion rate and marketing campaign is to get data directly from your customers.