January 26, 2017
Effective Web Experiences Pt. 5: A/B Testing

How do you know your website is performing well, and that customers are converting at optimal rates? One way you can understand performance better is to perform AB Testing. This is the topic of our blog today in our series building effective web experiences.

Read prior installments in this series here.

A/B Testing, also called split testing, is the process of creating two or more variations of a web page testing to see which variation performs best. For example, you could test pages with two different titles and main images, or change the layout of the pages to pull different content to the top of the page.   

"A pretty design can only get you so far. If you really want to gain new customers, you need to optimize the text on your site to instill trust in visitors and make them want to purchase from you." - Cameraon Chapman

In A/B Testing, you indicate a control (baseline page) and a variation page (or more than one). You then show the pages to different people, usually an even split of your visitors, to see which page works the best for a given conversion (e.g. Read more, sign up for a newsletter, download a paper, etc.).

This process gives you a consistent real-time understanding of how customers are interacting with your website and what makes them stay or perform some action. You could do this type of testing without AB testing but it would be a very manual tedious process and would not be as accurate. 

Key Steps and Best Practices

  • Don't A/B test every page of your website. Select key web pages that drive conversion (landing pages are good examples) and test those. If all your website is AB tested at once, a visitor can get a very inconsistent experience not only each time they visit the website but also during a single visit.
  • Decide what you want to test and what you expect the test to tell you. 
  • Make sure you have the right audience selected for your tests.
  • Run tests for a set period, typically one to two weeks.
  • Consider not only split testing landing pages but even campaigns. Also test headlines, copy, page layout, but don't test everything at once. 
  • Analyze the test results and then make changes based on those insights. 

Some Useful Links:

Conversion Rate Optimization 

We've looked at AB Testing, but there's more you can do to ensure your website is doing what you need it to do - help convert customers. Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is the process of regularly analyzing and improving your website to increase conversion rates.

Your website is a primary tool for converting visitors into customers, so you need to continually monitor and test the performance of your website to ensure it's providing the expected conversion rate.

There are many activities you can do to optimize conversion rates such as A/B testing copy and web page designs, segmenting visitors based on one or more common elements and personalizing the experience for each segment and others.

Key metrics you need to track to help you perform CRO include cohort reports (for segmentation), bounce rate and goal conversions by channel.

There's a lot more to understand about conversion rate optimization, but we'll leave it there for now.

Hopefully, this series on building effective web experiences is giving you some great insights and ideas to improve your website. Don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter to get notified of new blog posts in this series and other great topics related to web and digital experience.

Until next time!

Posted by David Hillis
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