Optimizing Conversion Rates with A/B Testing

A/B testing is a great way for you to compare different marketing strategies. You basically need to start by creating two campaigns that are advertising the same thing but in very different ways. You can test more than two campaigns against each other; it will just require a lot more planning and focus. Once you have analyzed which is performing better you can take that one and create two different versions of that ad. You can continue doing this until your margins between the two tests are so small. This guide focuses on page testing but you can apply A/B testing to different advertisements as well.

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What you need to know:

First you will need at least 1000 visitors or fans to give you a clear result as to which advert or page is not converting. They will provide you with fast answers when you have the right analytics tools and can help lift your conversion rates. A/B tests can also be helpful by staggering major changes to your webpages.

Here are some variations, but it is recommended to just do the A/B testing:

  • Multivariate Tests – as mentioned before once you start adding more variables the tests can get quite complicated quickly. They are more useful is to focus on the smaller details of the pages or adverts that are performing well but could be better.

  • Multi-Armed Bandit Testing – This type of testing will split your traffic evenly across your different tests. After a while one of the adverts or pages will start to show a higher conversion rate. When this happens more traffic is directed to that page or advert. The problem is if the effective advert slows in conversions over time and the system will then send the traffic to other adverts or pages.

Step-by-step overview:

  1. Brainstorm – you need to come up with different aspects of your page (or advert) you want to test. Your whole team should be involved so everyone is focusing on common goals.

  2. The setup – you will need to create your control page and the variations.

  3. Testing – you now need to run your different pages and collect the results from the tests. Make sure you are looking for other marketing opportunities that might arise from the tests.

  4. Promoting – once you have analyzed the results and understood why certain campaigns worked and others didn’t; you can begin to use the successful tests.

  5. Repeat – you want to keep updating your page and making it more effective. Keep trying different things on your page; but now you use the best from the previous tests as the control.

The Setup (Page A/B Testing):

  1. 5 elements you must have on your page, either as text or image:

    1. Headline (Check out our guide to writing a good headline.)

    2. Show off all the product benefits

    3. Clearly present the benefits to your audience

    4. CTA (for more tips have a look at our guide to creating CTA buttons)

  2. Control Page – This is usually the original page you had, with no variations. It needs to be built with the 5 elements mentioned above, and then they can be varied on other pages. Make sure you have a structured control page to save you time when creating the variations.

  3. Page Variations – Each page should ideally only have one change so that you can easily keep track of the hypothesis and outcomes of the variations.

  4. Tracking – You want to make sure you are still attracting the right audience with your variations. It is important to keep tracking your new customers and if they are converting like you expect you regular customer base. Like all your other marketing campaigns you should record what you expecting and then what does happen.

  5. Hypothesis – You now need to figure out what you are going to test. You can either go the Data or People route. The most effective ones combine both approaches

    1. Data – This approach is driven by stats (bounce rate, funnel analysis, conversion rates)

    2. People – Using the people approach you rely more on user feedback about the quality of their experience.

    3. Tools – Data: Google Analytics, Omniture or CrazyEgg

    4. People – Qualarro or SilverBack

Testing

  1. Headline – as this is the first impression your viewer will get of your sight; it is important it matches their expectations. (Take a look at our guide to creating headlines.)

    • Long vs. short

    • Positive vs. negative wording

    • Contrast of headline

    • Focus of headline (benefit, feature or price)

  2. Images – Images are extremely useful in conveying the personality of the brand. They are often very successful in capturing the audiences’ attention. You may also want to add captions to your images to keep the viewers engaged.

    Ideas to test:

    • Color vs. black and white

    • Faces/people vs. product

    • Photos vs. stock images

    • One image vs. multiple

  3. Video – Like images, videos instantly capture attention and easily engage with viewers. They can be very effective in providing information to your viewers in a creative way.

    Ideas to test:

    • Autoplay vs. pressing play

    • Length

    • Images vs. Video

    • Number of videos

    • Focus of video

    • Who’s speaking

  4. Text – you need to work out how long you are able to hold your audiences attention through text. It is advised you keep it short and to the point, but you will obviously need to test what is going to maximize your conversions.

    • Length

    • Format

    • Focus

  5. Forms – getting a viewer to opt-in for your newsletter or create a profile is vital to creating new leads of business. You want to capture data from your audience but not scare them off with too many questions or too long forms. Often websites offer some sort of exchange for the informations like an e-book or free trial.

    • Number of fields

    • Design of form

    • Required vs. non-required fields

    • Position of form

    • Directional cues

    • Headings

    • Policy link

  6. CTA – your call to action button is very important to increasing your conversion rate. It is ultimately what you want your visitor to do when they are visiting your page. (Take a look at our more comprehensive guide to creating CTA buttons.)

    • Color

    • Contrast

    • Wording (most effective)