A/B Testing in Marketing: What Is It, How Does It Work, and Why Do You Need It?

Data is available in everything. Whether you are a multinational firm, a small company, or an individual business, you are probably dealing with multiple data in operations, including customer service metrics that help you improve your service delivery.

Marketers use different techniques to improve their bottom line. Understandably, not all approaches will work or become completely effective. You can’t make business decisions based on feelings or hunches; you need a number, which may not usually be apparent.

For this reason, businesses need A/B testing in marketing, a unique approach that helps them choose the right business campaign. Continue reading through the post to learn more about this method, why it is important, as well as its application in business processes.

What is A/B testing in marketing?

A/B testing in marketing is a method used to compare two versions of a business campaign used to achieve a common goal in order to find the one with the most preferred results.

Also called the split test, this is a randomized experimentation process where two or more variables are presented to the two halves of your web visitors at the same time to find out the one that leaves a considerable impact.

Technically, A/B testing removes all the guesswork from website optimization and allows web optimizers to make data-backed decisions. In this method, A refers to the original testing variable, or “control,” while B refers to a “variation,” or the new version of the original test variable.

The variable that increases your business metrics in the positive trajectory is called the “winner.” And implementing this winner on your tested campaign helps optimize your web page and increase your business ROI.

The conversion metrics for each website vary based on the type of business. For instance, in e-commerce, it can be the sale of a product, while for B2B, the metric can be the generation of leads for conversions.

Split testing is one of the significant components of the broader process of Conversion Rates Optimization (CRO), which you can use to collect both quantitative and qualitative data for business growth.

Furthermore, you can use the collected insights to understand user behavior, pain points, engagement rates, and even satisfaction with the features. If you are not doing A/B testing in marketing within your website, you are surely losing a huge business opportunity.

Why businesses should consider A/B testing

Most of the problems that businesses are facing can be attributed to challenges that can be solved by performing split testing. Let’s look for the reasons you need to consider A/B testing in marketing within your website in the section below;

  1. A/B testing helps solve customer pain points

Customers visit your website to get a specific answer or achieve a goal they already have in their minds. These goals can include understanding your products or services, learning/reading about a specific topic, buying your products, or just browsing through the website.

Whatever visitors want to achieve, they may experience pain points while they are trying to achieve them. It can be difficult finding the CTA button or just a confusing copy that is hard to comprehend.

Failure to achieve targets leads to bad user experiences, increases friction, and then affects your conversion rates. Use collected data through user behavior analysis tools such as Google Analytics, website surveys, and Heatmaps to solve these pain points. This factor stands true for most businesses such as eCommerce, travel, SaaS, media, education, and publishing.

  1. Get better ROI on the existing traffic

As most web admins have recently realized, the price of getting quality traffic is exorbitantly huge. However, A/B testing lets you achieve most of your existing traffics to allow you to increase your conversion rates without spending extra money.

a/b testing in marketing

Author credit: By Eskim5 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12307055

Split testing can give you a high return on investment, as even the slightest change on your website can cause a significant increase in overall business ROI.

  1. Reduce bounce-back rates

The bounce-back rate is one of the most critical metrics you need to judge your web performance. They may be multiple reasons why you are experiencing high website bounce-back rates, including confusing navigations, expectations mismatch, many options to choose from, and use of a lot of technical jargon, among others.

Because different website serves different purposes, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to reduce bounce-back rates. But performing A/B testing has been proven to be effective. With this approach, you can test multiple variables of the website elements till you get the best possible version.

This not only helps you identify customer pain points and frictions but also improves customer experience and satisfaction making them spend more time within the site to reduce bounce-back rates.

  1. Make low-risk modifications

Make incremental and minor changes to the website using A/B testing instead of changing your entire website. Doing this can help reduce the risks of interfering with the current conversion rates.

Marketing split testing allows you to target your revenue for maximum results with few modifications for increased ROI. A good example of this can be product description changes. You can do this when you intend to update or remove your product descriptions.

You surely do not know how your visitors will react to the update, but by performing an A/B test, you can identify their reactions and see which side they are interested in and apply that.

Another excellent example of low-risk modification is the introduction of a new feature on the website. Before adding a new feature to the website, running a marketing split testing can help you know whether or not the part you are introducing will make the expected change and please your visitors.

  1. Redesign website for increased future business goal

Redesigning your website can range from a minor color tweak or CTA text to specific pages to revamping the website. The decision to choose a better version instead of the other should often be data-driven, and this can only be achieved through split testing.

Do not leave testing with the design until it is finalized. As the picked version goes live, run the tests on other elements on the web page to ensure that only the best pick is served to the visitors.

What web elements can you A/B test?

The website’s conversion funnel determines the success of your business. Therefore, every content that you serve to your visitors must be optimized to gain their maximum potential. This is true for web elements having the possibility of influencing the behaviors of your web visitors and the overall business conversion rates.

Test the following site elements if you decide to optimize your website. Although the list might not be exhaustive, it covers important and helpful elements.

  1. Copy

Website copy is a critical factor for improving your conversion rates and visitor behavior. The following are areas of copy you need to concentrate on when optimizing.

Headlines and sub-headlines.

A headline is typically the first thing your visitors will see on a web page. Also, it is what defines your web visitors’ first and last impression, filling in the blanks or taking action that will lead them to purchase.

For this reason, therefore, it is highly important to be extremely careful with your site’s headlines and subheadings. You need to make them short, catchy, and to the point and convey your message at first glance.

A/B test a few copies using different writing styles and fonts and identify which gives a positive response and go ahead to apply the best one.

Body.

The main textual content or body of your website needs to clearly state what visitors want or what they should expect. Also, it should align with your headlines and subheadings. An explicit and well-written content can significantly increase your conversion rates and boost businesses.

Keep the following parameters in your mind when you are drafting your textual content body:

Writing style: apply correct tonality depending on your target audience. Your content should address the audiences’ intents and answer their questions. It must also have keywords to improve usability and stylistic features highlighting important points.

Formatting: use the right titles and sub-titles, break the content into easy and small paragraphs, and makes it easy for skimmers to read using lists and bullet points.

Subject lines.

Email subject lines have a direct impact on user open rates. If users don’t see what they like, they will not open the email, and eventually, the message will be discarded. According to Hub Spot research, average open rates across different industries stand at 47%.

And while you can be slightly above average, chances are that only nearly half of your subscribers will open your emails—Run A/B testing on your subject lines to find the ones that can increase clicks and conversions.

    2. Design and layout

Because everything seems so important, businesses find it challenging to identify an essential element to keep on their website. If you perform split testing, this problem can be solved.

For instance, as an online store, your product page is the most important part of your website from a conversion perspective. This is especially true with the current state of digital advancement, where customers love to see product images in high definition before purchasing.

Due to these customer demands, the product page, therefore, must be in its best-optimized status in terms of design and user interface layout. Together with page copy, other forms and design layouts include images (offer and product images) and videos, including demo videos, product videos, and advertisements.

A/B testing in marketing

Author credit: By Tony Ahn – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=52039071

The product description page should answer visitors’ concerns without confusing them or making them cluttered. Instead, provide clear information, highlight clients’ reviews, write simple content and create a sense of urgency within your copies.

Other vital pages that need design and layout optimization are the home page and landing page. Perform A/B testing in marketing on these pages to find out the best version of their optimized versions. Test different features to get the best one possible.

      3. Navigation

Another essential website element that needs optimization using A/B testing is the navigation systems or options. It is an essential element when it comes to providing an excellent user experience.

Ensure you have a clear plan for how you need the website and how different pages will be linked with each other, and their reactions to the structure.

The web navigation campaign should start from your home page. This is the parent page, where all other pages emanate from and connect to each other. Ensure you set the structure such that users can quickly get whatever they are searching for without getting confused or lost due to broken navigation channels.

The following are some of the ways you can use to improve your website navigation process:

  • Match your visitors’ expectations.
  • Make the website navigation predictable.
  • Create easy, hassle-free website navigations.

       4. Forms

Website forms are the platforms where your web visitors can contact you. They are even more critical if you make them part of your purchase funnel. In the same way, there are no two websites that are similar, no multiple forms targeting the same audience simultaneously.

Although a small and precise form can produce better results for some businesses, long forms can considerably deliver quality leads for other businesses.

You can decide on the type of form that works well for your business by leveraging research methods and tools like form analysis to find out which one is the best, depending on your needs and preference.

       5. The call to action (CTA)

This is where all the action takes happens. This is where actions that lead to conversions, such as closing the deal, filling out forms, or engaging your customer service team through live chat systems, are taking place.

Through A/B testing, you are able to test various CTA strategies and their placements within the page and experiment with the color scheme and their sizes, among others. These trials help identify which strategies improve conversions the highest.

     6. Content depth

Some website users prefer reading long-form content to short ones because they cover more information, even the smallest detail of a topic. On the other hand, some visitors prefer skimming through a page and only concentrate on topics that are more relevant to them. So, you need to keenly check and understand the category of your target audience.

While A/B testing your content depth, create two pieces of content on the same topic, with one being longer and detailed and the other one being short and direct to major information. Post them and track their performance to see which one has a better rating.

        7. Social proofs

Social proofs may be categorized together with expert reviews and recommendations from the industry or service professionals, customers, and celebrities. Social media customer service proofs may also be in the form of media mentions, testimonials, awards, certificates, or badges.

The availability of these proofs supports the claims made by your website and gives you a competitive edge. Performing A/B testing in marketing within your website can help you know whether you need social proof or not.

You will know if it is a good move, the kind of evidence you need to add, and the procedure of adding them. You can do all these to determine which proof works best for you and with which type of placement.

Common types of A/B testing in marketing

After knowing the types of website elements, you should split test; let’s look at the different types of A/B testing and their advantages in the following section. Ideally, we have four methods of A/B testing.

  • Split URL A/B testing

Usually, people handling testing and web analytics confuse split URL testing with A/B testing, but they are mainly different. The former refers to an experimentation process where a completely new version of a web page is tested to choose which one performs better.

But on the flip side, A/B testing is mostly used when you only want to analyze front-end changes of your current page, especially with designs.

When you perform a split URL test, your traffic is divided between the control and variations, and their conversion metrics are recorded to decide the winning option.

Advantages of split URL A/B testing.

  • Perfect for radical new design changes within the website by the existing web page as the reference for the analysis.
  • Ideal for doing tests that do need changes in the UI.
  • Best for changing up web page workflow.
  • A better and highly recommended technique for dynamic content.
  • Multiverse testing

This is a form of testing where variables of several web pages are tested simultaneously to get the one that performs better than all the tested variations.

Multiverse testing is a more complicated option than regular split testing and is best for product, advanced marketing, and development professionals or businesses. However, when gotten correctly, it removes the need for running sequential or multiple A/B tests on particular pages for the same outcome.

Performing concurrent analysis with multiple variations helps you save time, effort, and money and leads to the conclusion in the shortest time possible.

Advantages of multiverse testing.

  • It eliminates the need to perform several sequential analyses for the same goal and saves time.
  • Seamlessly analyze and identify the contribution of every page element to tested results.
  • Map and track all interactions between all the independent element variations.
  • Multipage testing

Usually, there are two methods of doing multipage A/B testing in marketing. First, you can take all your sales to funnel pages and create a new type of each, making your challenger the sales funnel and testing it against the control. This approach is known as funnel multipage testing.

Secondly, you can test how the removal or addition of the website’s recurring elements, such as testimonials or security badges, can impact how the website performs. This multipage testing method is known as conventional or classic multipage testing.

Advantages of multipage testing.

  • This form of testing is easy to create and run and gives reliable and meaningful data in the shortest possible time.
  • It enables web admins to create a consistent experience for their web visitors.
  • It allows the implementation of the exact change across different pages in the website without making users confused while navigating through pages.

Conclusion

After reading this article about A/B testing in marketing, you can now be able to plan your website optimization roadmap for improved engagement and conversion. Follow the steps discussed herein, and be careful of major and minor challenges you can face if you don’t give data the attention it deserves.

If you apply the knowledge, you now have and sheer dedication, A/B testing can eliminate the risks involved during optimization campaigns. Also, it will help to improve your website user experience by removing all the weak points and providing the most optimized and highly performing version of your results.