A/B testing can be defined as a way of comparing two different options that are designed to achieve the same thing. It allows you to find out which option achieves the best result for your business.
As a B2B marketer, you may already have a pretty good idea about A/B and multivariate testing, along with the benefits.
Perhaps you’re running A/B tests at the moment. Maybe you’re aware of the techniques, but you’ve not yet had chance to use them. Or it could be a little while since you’ve explored the territory.
Either way, it’s always the right time to dive into the detail.
A/B testing is one of those tools that can easily be overlooked. Particularly when workloads increase and other deadlines loom large. But it’s up there with the best of them. Particularly when you want to improve conversion rates or engage with customers on a deeper level.
A/B testing to understand your audiences
When you create landing pages, write email copy or construct calls-to-action (CTAs), you’ll probably refer back to your buyer personas to understand what compels your audiences to act. Buyer personas are a great starting point for any of your communications.
But when you want to squeeze every single drop of value from your website, there’s nothing better than being able to trial different webpage options to find the star performer.
You may want to discover which headline generates more interest, where to put your CTA buttons on your page to capture the most click throughs, or how many form fields you can use before the abandonment rate begins to increase.
When the optimum option isn’t clear, you’re much better off running an A/B test, rather than relying on your gut feeling.
But A/B tests can be tricky. If you’re not careful, you could make incorrect assumptions about an audience’s actions. And that might lead you to make decisions that could damage other parts of your strategy. But we’ll help you avoid any of those issues.
The benefits of A/B testing
A/B testing can provide you with a range of benefits, depending on what it is you decide to test. Above all, A/B testing is a reliable and low-cost way of reaping high digital returns.
Stretch budgets further
A/B testing allows you to save money by identifying the elements that boost your response rate. No two marketing campaigns or page layouts will offer the same return. One option will always somehow be better than the other. When you remove the processes that don’t work so well, you can focus more of your spend where it counts.
When you’re able to improve click throughs and increase conversion rates, you’ll be reaching more people for longer. And that’s the road to profitability. When you’re increasing engagement and reducing bounce rates, you’re reducing costs and increasing sales.
Tight bottlenecks, incorrect messaging or small coding errors can cause an otherwise solid campaign or sales funnel to collapse. Getting into the data with A/B testing can help you to identify and address any problems before they do serious damage.
Content is a cornerstone of your business. It builds awareness, creates interest and drives engagement. Using A/B testing alongside your buyer personas will help you to understand which types of content work for which audiences at the various stages of the funnel.
You can’t always be sure whether a longform piece, explainer video or Q&A infographic will deliver the best results. Reliable buyer personas combined with reliable A/B testing data will point you in the right direction.
A/B testing and Growth-Driven Design
Just as A/B testing focuses on the needs of your audiences. Growth-Driven Design (GDD) takes the same route. It looks at your website through the eyes of your visitors. GDD ensures that you choose the right techniques and technologies to build your website, based on your customers’ needs.
Great things begin to happen when you use A/B testing and GDD together. By using GDD to design your website around what works for your audience, you focus on the areas that are more likely to draw in new leads for your business.
And by using A/B testing to pinpoint and refine the pathways that draw in the new leads, you’ll be able to remove, repurpose or redesign any elements that are less likely to have a positive impact.
Approaching your website with a GDD mindset allows you to understand what drives, what deters and what persuades your audiences. By giving visitors the best possible user experience, and leading them down through the sales funnel, you begin to improve your conversion rates.
If you’d like to get under the skin of GDD, we explore it in a lot more detail here. But for now, you just need to know that it can be used to magnify the effects of your A/B testing activities.
There’s a range of ways you can incorporate A/B testing principles into your marketing planning to achieve your goals. Whether that’s through increasing website traffic, raising conversion rates, reducing bounce rates or applying downward pressure on shopping cart abandonment.
A/B testing has to feed on traffic
Whether you’re testing different colours or text on CTAs, changing how and when shipping costs are displayed, or trialling different images, A/B testing needs visitors. Lots of them.
Unfortunately, there’s no magic volume number that you can rely on. Every test will be different. It depends on how differently your visitors react in each situation. If there’s a radical difference in behaviour, you’re going to need less visitors for the pattern to emerge.
It’s all based on statistical significance and confidence intervals. We can help you with the analysis, but as a very rough rule of thumb, you need to be in the thousands, sometimes as much as 10,000 or more to achieve a significant sample size.
That’s the number of people hitting the specific page that you’re testing, not the number of people visiting your site as a whole.
If you’re working with an inappropriate sample size you won’t get a true representation of the total population. And this can cause you problems further down the line.
Moving on to multivariate testing
While A/B testing can identify how formatting, layouts and messaging can positively or negatively influence an audience, you can only change one element at a time. Multivariate testing takes things a stage further. Multivariate analysis is all about making a range of subtle changes, spread across a number of different page versions, each one served up to a percentage of your audience.
However, due to the multiple variables being tested, you’re going to need a lot more traffic to pull it off. So be careful. Things can get confusing. But if you have the traffic volume and the ability to build all the tiny detail changes into a unified framework, then you’ll reap the benefits.
Getting a little outside help
If you’re thinking of jumping into A/B testing, multivariate testing or even Growth-Driven Design, we’d love to help you along the way. Fire over an email or give us a call and let’s see where it can take your business.
Working as a Digital Marketing Consultant since 2004, Lee helps SMEs win more business through developing effective digital marketing strategies. He is a dedicated Liverpool FC fan, dog lover and loves long country walks (and a cheeky pint) with his dog, Banjo. Do you publish content yourself, or need content for your own website? If you’d like to collaborate on anything at all, don’t hesitate to reach out to me.