A/B Testing (Split Testing) to Convert More Online Customers

May 9th, 2012 by Daniel Laws

What is A/B testing (split testing)?

A/B testing, or split testing, is a marketing testing method by which one baseline control sample is compared to a variety of single-variable test samples in order to improve response or conversion rates. An example would be to test two different subject lines of an email campaign. A/B testing has been implemented for direct mail and within the interactive space to test tactics such as banner ads, emails, landing pages, or even entire websites to improve performance. You can also extend A/B testing to PPC advertising copy, alternative keywords, or PPC keyword match types.

How can my business or marketing department apply A/B testing?

You should always be testing ways to improve the sales process to reduce your cost per acquisition and to improve your customers’ experiences. I would recommend that you start with the “low hanging fruit” that could have the greatest impact on revenue or the customer experience. For example, an A/B test could be a simple as testing the color of the calls-to-action to improve the click-through-rate.

A/B testing can be applied to marketing tactics to improve sales or lead generation at a lower cost. In general, it’s easier to implement A/B testing with digital advertising because of the ability to make changes quickly and optimize the process. The findings from digital advertising can also be carried over to traditional advertising.

A/B Testing Best Practices

If you’re new to A/B/ split testing, here are a few best practices:

  • Define your goals. Clearly state what you hope to accomplish.
  • Determine how you plan to accomplish your goals. Keep it Simple!
  • What are you testing & why?
  • What is the variation you are testing (color, position, ad copy, etc.)?
  • Define the control and your variation for testing.
  • What are your expected results & reasoning?
  • Measure & Analyze the results through the sales or conversion process.

 How do you apply A/B Testing to Internet Marketing Strategy?

You can leverage A/B testing based on geography, psychographics, customer lifecycles, etc. You want to develop realistic goals based on your target audiences. At first, I would recommend being targeted with your approach and limiting the test to a single market. It’s important to identify the greatest impact on the conversion process or sales process by modifying the internet marketing strategy slightly. Be sure to focus on all the results from the beginning of the process to completion and to communicate the results. Think about the effect the testing will have on saving time, money, and creating efficiencies.

Conclusion

If you haven’t started A/B testing, you’re wasting time, money, and missing opportunities. As marketers, we should always be testing to maximize performance and to reduce costs. Testing goes beyond just a subject line or ad copy. It requires focus, consistency, and planning. In addition, you must think about usability, branding, layouts, the purchase process, etc. There are numerous tools such as Web Optimizer, Visual Website Optimizer, or Test &Target to get started.

Danny founded DMG in 2008 and continues to lead in developing an industry-leading digital agency while emphasizing online measurement best practices. Under Danny’s direction and leadership, DaBrian Marketing Group has become Reading, PA’s leading digital agency focused on demonstrating value through measurement of marketing campaigns.

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