A/B Testing Guidelines to Drive Small Business Wins

To increase your website conversion rates, keep reading. We’ll take you through step-by-step guidelines to design, implement, and measure your own small business A/B testing process. You can use this simple methodology to improve the performance of any marketing content, including; landing pages, emails and social posts.

example-of-a/b-testing-results-using-optimizely

If you’re already convinced that A/B testing needs to be a core part of your day-to-day operations, you’ll be looking for software to automate the process. We recommend Optimizely because it’s the leading A/B testing platform with a powerful user-interface and pricing starting from $17/month.

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Creating Your Own A/B Testing Process

One of the best ways to improve your online conversion rate is to fully embrace A/B testing. In simple terms, it’s an effective way to scientifically test two differing versions of the same content to see which one converts leads better.

Ready to run your own A/B test? Here’s how you should go about it summarised in nine simple steps.

Step 1: Decide what you’re going to test

One of the great things about A/B tests is how simple and powerful they are. You only have two pieces of content to test against each other, but you can apply test the same simple process to just about any aspect of your marketing. You can test something as specific as the color of a CTA to something as big as an entirely new landing page.

Just remember, the more differences between the two pieces of content that you test, the less certain you can be about the specific attribute (or attributes) that improve your conversion. This means that if you’re testing two versions of a landing page against each other, and you’ve changed the CTA copy, the form length, the image you’ve added, and the headline copy on one of the landing pages, you cannot attribute that landing page’s success to the form. You’d have to conclude that success came from one or all of the four elements that changed.

If you want to be really obsessive about driving improvement through A/B testing, we’d recommend changing one attribute at time so that you can be really certain about which change is driving improved conversion.

If you’re trying to fix your visitor-to-lead conversion rate, we’d recommend completing a range of A/B tests including; your landing pages, prospecting emails and CTAs. Below, we’ve run an A/B test on a CTA as an example go help illustrate how to go about implementing the A/B testing process.

Step 2: Figure out your test goal and decide how to measure it

To run a successful A/B test, we can’t just hit the ground running after reading the last sentence of the previous step. You’ve got to think deeper about what you want to find out. Do you want to measure how the color of the CTA affects how many people click on it? Or maybe you want to find out if the color affects how many people click more than once on the CTA? Whatever the case, be clear about the goal of your test before you move on to the next step.

In our A/B test, we will send lots of people to the landing page, so we’re going to use the number of clicks on the CTA as our measure of success.

Step 3: Set your control and treatment

Ignore the jargon, the control and treatment of your A/B test are quite simple. The control is simply the Version A of your test, it’s what you normally use as your landing page, email, call-to-action, headline, etc. The treatment is the Version B of your test. It’s the version that has the changes you’re trying to test.

In our example, the control Version A would be a lime green, the color of most of our blog CTAs. It’s the status quo, the norm. Version B needs to be something different, let’s say bright orange.

Step 4: Create and release your A/B test

Once you’ve decided how your test is going to work, you’re ready to get going! First, you need to create the content for you’re A Test (Control) and B Test (Variation). We’re going to use our existing CTA as our A Test (green) and test this against a B Test variation (bright orange). Importantly, the only difference between the two is the color, this is because we want to learn whether the color of our CTA affects the number of conversions.

cta-options-to-illustrate-the-a/b-testing-process

Then, you’ll have to set up the A/B test in your marketing software. Each tool is different, and often, the A/B testing steps are different for each type of content you’re going to test.

Step 5: Setup You’re A/B Testing Tool

A/B testing is not something we would recommend you try to do manually for anything other than to prove the business-case. The good news is that there are simple small business tools available to adopt should you decide to make A/B testing part of your day-to-day marketing operations.

We recommend two cost effective options for small business:

  • Google Analytics (GA) – Most small businesses have GA in place to monitor their website performance. And if you don’t, then you set it up. Why? Because you can’t manage what you can’t measure, and it’s free!
  • Optimizely – If you want to simple paid tool that is dedicated to making A/B testing fool proof, we recommend Optimizely. The essentials plan starts from only $17/month.

And if would like a simple walkthrough of how easy these tools are to setup and use, we recommend reading this best testing software article which provides an excellent insight so that you can make the right decision for your business.

Step 6: Promote your test

If you want your test to be one that you can trust to provide a definitive answer, you’ll need to heavily promote your test content. This means sending your email to a large chunk of your intended test audience, promoting your landing page on FB and Twitter, and maybe using paid advertising too if this is a key aspect of how you attract visitors to your site. The simple point here is that you need enough of the right people to complete the test so that you can have confidence in the results.

Keep in mind that if you’re running an A/B test for a specific audience, you need to keep your promotions tailored to just that audience. For example, if you’re trying to improve the conversion of FB visitors, you want to restrict your test to FB to avoid drawing the wrong conclusions from your results.

In our example, we’re just looking at CTA conversions, so we’d simply promote the blog post to get anyone who is interested to the page.

Step 7: Gather data

Give it some time for the data to role in. Depending on how much traffic your site attracts, this could be anything from a day to a month. Whatever the case, keep promoting your test until it’s statistically significant. One way of saying when the results of your tests are determined to be most likely not due to chance alone. If you’re really into statistics, you can calculate the statistical significance for yourself and you’ll understand what this means! Otherwise, if you’re just a mere mortal, you can use Neil Patel’s A/B testing significance calculator. Once you’ve hit significance, you can see if the treatment is more effective than the control.

But what happens if you never hit significance? You can simply wait a few more days for more data. That being said, if it’s been a month and you’ve sent a lot of traffic to your test, but you haven’t seen a statistically significant result, then your test probably wouldn’t make a big positive impact on lead conversions. If this is the case, don’t be afraid to move on to another experiment. There are so many things you can test that could improve conversion.

Step 8: Investigate your sales pipeline

Okay, so now you know if your experiment worked or not for the goal and measure you set at the start. You’ve now completed your first A/B test and learnt something new, but you can’t stop there!

Even though we recommended focusing on one metric, now it’s time to look outside the test’s original purpose to see if it’s had any impact on any other part of your sales pipeline.

You might wonder how changing the color on your CTA button could impact anything other than how many people click on it, but trust us, it often does. For instance, it could be that you are converting a slightly different persona that is more likely to convert into a paying customer at a later stage. Or maybe they become paying customers faster?

OK this could be a ridiculous claim, but hopefully you get the point. By looking at other parts of your marketing and sales process, you may discover that an A/B test has consequences you didn’t and could not anticipate. And if those consequences are good, you can focus in to understand them better.

Step 9: There’s much more you can test

Excellent, you’ve completed your first A/B test and hopefully learnt something new that helps you to improve conversion. But don’t stop there, because there’s so much more you can test. In the CTA example, you can try placing the CTA elsewhere on the page or see if switching up copy can affect how many people click through.

Or maybe you just don’t trust the results of the A/B test you just ran. Maybe you ran it during a holiday and got seasonal traffic boost on your site, but that’s not indicative of how your audience normally behaves. Run the A/B test again, except make sure you’re not doing it during a holiday.

If you’re always testing, you can make great strides in your conversion rates. Remember this, high performing sites run several A/B tests every day.

The Juice Press

In this article, we provided you with a simple step-by-step process for improving your online conversion rates. The beauty of this process, is that it is simple and can be applied in exactly the same way to any aspect of your marketing.

If you’re now convinced that A/B testing needs to be a core part of your day-to-day operations, you’ll be looking for software to automate the process. We recommend Optimizely because it’s the leading A/B testing platform with pricing starting from $17/month.

Visit Optimizely