“Would I look better in jeans or dresses?”
“Should I get the blue tie or the green one?”
“Does she like flowers or chocolates?”
Almost every day, we come across two ideas and the hard question it carries with it: “which one?”
The answer is pretty simple. Test it out!
A/B testing happens to be the solution to most clashes concerning business ideas. It belongs to a category of scientific optimization techniques, where the best performing version is detected using statistics.
Scientifically testing your ideas on homepage, landing page or email, will help your business grow. You simply launch two versions side-by-side and monitor which version attracts the most customers.
The current version or the “original” is tested against the new idea, the “variant”. If there is a lot more heavy data to work with you can multivariate testing, where you test more variations at the same time. However, a simple two-version test with an original and variant works great too.
The thing about A/B testing is that while “everybody” talks the talk, most businesses don’t actually get down to doing testing.
A/B testing gives you an advantage over your customers.
I know. “How does wasting my time performing another science-y thing help my business?”
After modifying content based on A/B testing, companies usually see the difference by experiencing:
Reduced bounce rates
Increased conversion rates
Higher conversion value
Not just that, A/B Brings along with it several more benefits for your company.
The process of A/B testing creates better web pages because every idea’s value is thoroughly discussed. After all that skimming and debating over the variables to be tested, a list of potential content improvements is automatically generated.
More profitable companies
Scientific results can’t be biased. Organizations that use A/B testing happen to value data over opinions. The testing can cause organizational shifts that increase profits. Nimble companies quickly adapt to changes in the marketplace and data. With quick decisions and being able to adjust mid course are the two strengths that help increasing output.
Risks involved in big decisions like pricing can be reduced if they are tested beforehand. By testing customer behavior before making decisions increases the likelihood of success. A/B testing helps target resources for maximum results which in turn increases the Return on Investments.
The good news is the costs incurred for developing different versions is fairly minimal in most cases. The testing can be split into two groups – there is no need to develop completely new groups for each version. The completion of the testing and gathering data doesn’t eat up all your time or money. You just pick the one that performed better than the other and ta da! You have the perfect site with little need to invest.
It can accurately measure performance differences
It is easier to measure performance differences between two options using A/B testing. Just collect the relevant data and compare the results. It helps to measure the difference between two options, even if it is on a small scale.
Various tools have been designed to help you test your ideas. Here at eCopyDesk we give you our list of Top Five testing tools to help your business.
It provides a feature called “Content Experiments”, which allows users to split-test page variants within the program. It is is a useful feature with advanced reporting options but sadly, lacks a visual editor, posing a major stumbling block for many new users.
Unfortunately, the main drawback to Google Analytics is its too advanced for people who hardly know anything about testing.
There’s an abundance of information there, but you’ll need to be a pretty skilled analyst to take advantage. Advanced use of Google Analytics is a great and desirable tool for every business owner, but it’s definitely not the easiest place to start.
Why do it?
“Goals” feature allows for easy tracking of business targets
Offers quicker, more efficient multi-armed bandit testing
Directly integrated with other analysis features and huge data pool
Why not do it?
Raw data – interpretation and use are on you
Difficult to use on dynamic pages
Lacks a visual-based editor
Unable to integrate additional data sources
Relatively new to testing your web page? Try Optimizely. With easy and effortless installation, it is cost efficient in every way, with plans starting from $17. Also, the WYSIWYG interface makes it user friendly and highly intuitive, even for newbies. With plans starting at $17, Optimizely is a very cost-efficient entry point.
Reviews conclude that’s Optimizely’s testing software is pretty good. It offers A/B (split) testing, multivariate testing and mobile testing options that are easy to grasp and work with.
The advance features are also available, at a higher price, for continued use as your business continues to grow and you start to become an expert at testing.
However, if you are entirely new at testing, Optimizely might not be the best idea. It requires passable landing pages to test in the first place and the user is entirely responsible for creating its own A/B tests. That can come up as a challenge for someone who has little knowledge of testing tools.
Why do it?
Cost-efficient premium option for entry-level users
Relatively easy, intuitive interface
Effective A/B, multivariate, and mobile-focused testing options
Solid basic offering with quality advanced features at higher price point
Why not do it?
Lacks outside data integration
No algorithm alternatives for judging results, such as bandit or adaptive testing
Multivariate testing requires expensive Gold membership ($359 per month)
Visual Website Optimizer (VWO) is a full-featured testing suite that has gained immense popularity in the last two years. Overall users say that it’s very similar to Optmizely but with a few key differences.
At $49 per month for the starting price point, it’s not exactly the “Why not?” pricing of Optimizely, but you can expect a much wider feature set for the money. VWO is a simple, easy-to-use interface and offers breathtaking 7 different testing options:
Split URL Test
Heatmap and Clicks
The unique selling point for business owners unsure of where to start in creating and running A/B tests is the idea-generation tools.
VWO will cater your company according to its needs. If you happen to be a beginner- or a relatively new to testing- VWO is perfect for you. Apart from quick and easy to use, it has a traffic level greater than 1,000 visitors per month, offering a wider testing platform than the others.
Why do it?
Full feature set available at all price points
Intuitive, relatively easy-to-use interface
Advance options for bigger companies
Accommodates company according to its needs
Why not do it?
Lacks same level of real-time support options compared to competitors
Lacks multi-page testing options
Hit or miss online documentation
Unless you’ve been living under a rock near a pineapple under the sea for the last few years, you already know KISSmetrics. This eminent testing tool connects reports and data to real people, who are tracked across their interactions with your website, thus focusing on the “human side of data”.
CrazyEgg analyzed most used A/B testing tools and found that at $150 per month to start for a full year, you won’t find software offering deeper or more diverse sets of data. KISSmetrics lets you keep an eye on the entire conversion funnel, from start to finish, and identify where and how customers are disconnecting from your website.
If you are serious about data and testing, KISSmetrics is one of the best tools around. Its ability to connect data to actual users might also be a great alternative for business owners struggling to wrap their heads around more traditional reporting styles.
Why do it?
Highly flexible data reporting options
Simple, intuitive interface
Can trace data to real people
Excels at funnels with extremely accurate funnel-based data
Integrates well with complementary software
Why not do it?
Lower powered A/B testing compared to other testing software
High cost – won’t be affordable for many small businesses
More advanced data reporting requires a higher learning curve
However, Even though A/B testing sounds like a piece of brownie with vanilla ice cream on the side, a few things should definitely be kept in mind according to Smashing Magazine.
Always test both versions of whatever you are creating simultaneously. If you test a page one week and the other the next week, you’re doing it wrong bro. It is best to always split the traffic, probably why it’s also called split testing.
The statistical confidence informs you about how significant your results are. Most A/B testing tools report statistical confidence. But in case you decide to test manually (which is just as cool), accounting with an online calculator should be considered.
Surprising regular visitors isn’t such a good idea. Try to include only new visitors, especially when testing a core part of the website.
Don’t give up too easily. To get the most accurate results you are going to have to give the testing some time. Giving up too early might just make it a waste of time and energy.
Lots of blunders can be avoided if you show a repeat user the same page and not a different variation. Your tool should have a mechanism for remembering which variation a visitor has seen
Showing one variation on page 1 and another on page two will skew the results. For best results, make your A/B test consistent across the whole website.
Let’s face it, we don’t always get things right the first time. To get the best results, you’re going to have to do a ton of tests. By collecting lots of positive results you can give a huge boost to your sales and achieved goals.
Though it sounds like it, but A/B testing isn’t as easy as pie. You might have to run tests for a few days, maybe even weeks. It all depends on the traffic you get. However, for most accurate results, run one test at a time.
Giving a test insufficient time can mean skewed results and so can running the test too long. Make sure you stay abreast of anything that might effect your test results, so that you can account for any statistic anomalies when reviewing results. When in doubt, it is perfectly reasonable to retest.
However, considering the impact A/B testing can have on your business, it is worth taking a few weeks to properly conduct tests, one variable at a time.