How to Get Started With A/B Testing

Ask 10 different people a question regarding website optimization and you’ll likely receive 10 different answers. Everyone has an opinion. Instead of arguing about an image vs. a piece of text or endlessly debating the color of a button, take the logical approach and test it. Leave nothing to guesswork.

When in doubt use A/B testing.

An A/B test puts two different design or text elements in front of your sites visitors and provides clear data as to which one is more favorable. It’s the easiest way to increase conversion rates on your site and is an absolute must for those of us who want to optimize a site’s traffic.

Here’s a list of some of the elements that can and should be put through an A/B test:

  • Entire pages
  • Images, logos, buttons
  • Video
  • Text
  • Call to action wording (such as subscribe vs. sign up)
  • Prices, offers
  • Headers, footers, widgets
  • Page length, page load time

Just about anything on a page can be tested.

How to get started

Before doing any testing, determine what needs to be tested and the reason you’re actually testing it.

Is the goal to get more email subscribers? Are you trying to improve the sites bounce rate? Knowing your goals beforehand will make the process easier.

Let’s use this graphic from startup Hipster’s job page as an example.








The goal here is twofold in that they want visitors to apply for a job or refer the job to a friend. Using just this graphic they could test several different elements related to the two buttons such as:

  • Color
  • Text
  • Style
  • Size
  • Location on the page

By doing a simple set of A/B tests they can optimize the amount of applications they receive. If 1000 people visit the page and 25 apply under variation A and 50 apply under variation B, it can be assumed that variation B will help them receive twice as many applicants as opposed to variation A.

Tools of the trade

Google’s Website Optimizer tool is a great place to start. It’s free and easy to set up. Here’s a quick guide to using it.

Optimizely and Visual Website Optimizer offer effective low cost alternatives that are worth checking out and Webtrends has an advanced solution.

Which Test Won is a site that collects examples of different tests and provides insights into the data behind them.

Tips for getting the most out of your A/B testing

The more traffic your site is receiving the more test data you’ll have. If your page isn’t receiving much traffic consider extending the test or using an AdWords campaign to drive more traffic.

Don’t end the test too early. Give each test enough time to collect enough data (hundreds or preferably thousands of visitors).

Run lots of tests at once. Take advantage of your testing time by running multiple tests. Remember that almost everything can be tested and the data will provide valuable insights that will ultimately lead to higher conversions.

Questions? Send an email to info@sparkplugdigital.com

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