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Web Design, Contributed

How to Use A/B Testing to Maximize Conversions

August 07, 2019

A/B testing offers companies a fast and easy way to compare design options for their website and drive website performance. By serving two different variations of the same content, we can clearly see which proves to be the most effective at driving whatever goal it is that you’re after.

Savvy businesses know how critical of a role websites play in their overarching operations. Winning new customers who find your company online requires constant iteration and innovation.

A surprising number of major organizations refresh their website every few years to keep it from looking outdated. Staying on top of current trends is definitely worthwhile to ensure a smooth user experience

According to The Manifest, an “A/B” or “split” test is a type of experiment that compares an existing site design as the control with an alternative version B to assess performance. 
In this A/B test, Test B earned a higher conversion rate.

The image above shows an example of how comparing two design options works. 

A/B testing includes your audience in the decision-making process by considering and catering to their preferences. Gathering insight on what your users like best will help you optimize your site to encourage a higher level of engagement. 

Paying close attention to website performance offers companies valuable benefits, primarily by increasing conversion rates. A/B testing is uniquely promising; it’s easy to start implementing immediately and often yields measurable impacts right away. Use the following 10 tips and principals to formulate a strategy of your own.

1. Iterate Consistently While A/B Testing to Land More Conversions

No matter how well-designed you believe your website is, testing will always help you find areas for improvement. Before you begin the testing process, clearly define your objectives.

Answering the following questions will establish a trajectory to reach your goals:

  1. Beyond your website, what is your company’s primary business objective?
  2. Who is your audience, and what do they want and need?
  3. What tweaks can you make to support the two items above?

For example, you might look at the background color of a particular call-to-action. What messaging are you using in specific areas of your website? Will asking questions result in more conversions on your contact page?

2. Lead With the Objective

What exactly are you trying to accomplish through A/B testing? Driving users to specific portions of your site involve a different approach than encouraging users to sign up for a newsletter. Pair each test with specific and measurable outcomes to yield definitive results.

For example, if your objective is to drive more engagement on your blog, what do your blog post details pages look like? Are you doing enough to drive users to related content? Consider adding distinct calls-to-action to your blog content and sketching out clear next steps. 

Project manager Amber Stansfield sketches out some layout options ahead of an A/B test.

Visualize how your A/B test will look and think critically about what aspects of your website need to be tested. 

Are you an online retailer looking to drive sales of a particular product? Try adding customer reviews in strategic places on the product page. Consider modifying how the “Buy Now” or pricing information is presented.

3. Hypothesize, Don’t Assume

Be objective. You’d be surprised at how often the test results leave you scratching your head.

This one is especially important because sometimes our assumptions can dictate which variations we create — Keep an open mind, and let the data do the talking.

4. Use A/B Testing Tools

There are a handful of tools on the market that automates A/B testing. Using them enables you to run tests more easily by mitigating the need for fundamental changes to your website’s codebase.

Many testing tools use JavaScript plugins to modify your site’s code in real-time. In practice, this can essentially turn any site into a frontend visual composer.

Below are some popular options: 

After comparing features and functionalities, select a tool that’s the best fit for your budget and feature requirements.

If you’re new to A/B testing, Google Optimize is a great option to get your feet wet before diving into habitual testing. As a bonus, it’s free!

5. Test One Thing at a Time

Web design experts know that nothing kills the credibility of an A/B test faster than having too many variables at once. If you change the button color and tweak the copy in the same test, you won’t know which change led to more conversions.

When you’re conducting a split test, make sure that you only alter one variable at a time, so you know what to attribute your success (or failure) to. Some examples to get you started include:

  • Button color
  • Call-to-action text
  • Image replacement
  • Page layout (adding/hiding content)

By only implementing one variable, you can make a definitive conclusion about your test. 

6. Include Several Variations in Your Test, But Not Too Many

We recommend testing a maximum of 2-3 variations outside of the control. If your site traffic metrics are very low, consider limiting your tests to 1-2 variations. 

Consider this specific scenario. If your goal is to drive more clicks to a call-to-action button, update the H2 heading right above it. Remember that each variation of that heading that you test is distributed to an equal subset of users. Choosing a single variation to compare with your control (the original headline) will send each version to 50% of your users. 

More variations will limit the number of people who see each one accordingly, especially if you have a smaller audience. Splitting up your user base into groups that are too small risks diminishing the statistical significance of your tests. 

7. Annotate, Annotate Annotate

Annotations are easy to overlook, but these important reference points in Google Analytics can offer immense value months and even years down the line.

If you’re putting together a report for your department director or executive team, having annotations in place will take the guesswork out of correlating data with marketing activities.

If you run a test on removing a contact form field and see conversions spike, annotate that result.

8. Leverage Google Analytics for Testing Ideas

If you’re already using Google Analytics, it will serve as an excellent source of testing ideas. The metrics it tracks can show you insights such as:

  • Which pages are the most popular
  • Pages that have the least engagement
  • Site pages where users converting the most

Use the data you already have at your fingertips to identify historical trends and uncover potential website shortcomings.

9. Make Testing a Habit

A/B testing goes much deeper than a marketing tactic. At its best, it should be a habit. Impactful usage requires an appreciation for how much more your website can be than a static element. As a dynamic and living platform, it can cater to ever-evolving user interests and expectations.

Start Your Own A/B Testing Process

Developing a successful website is both an art and a science, and A/B testing is where the left and right brain meet. Combining creative thinking and logical analysis will guide you to the best solution. 

Forward this line of thinking by starting your own A/B testing process with these testing tips in mind. If you follow best practice, you’ll be well on your way to optimizing your website to maximize lead conversion rates in no time.