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A beginner's guide to A/B testing

7th June 2012
For businesses searching for new and effective ways of market research let us introduce you to the common technique of A/B testing. In order to judge the effectiveness of new options as opposed to existing content or structures, this form of testing is viewed by SMEs as a means of refining marketing materials.

For start-ups and entrepreneurs who have recently launched their website A/B testing is a great way of discovering ways of improving the overall look and feel of their site. Is it possible to make changes to improve the number of conversions through your website? A/B testing is simply a quick and efficient way of obtaining high volume and real user statistics to make informed marketing decisions.

The idea behind it is that two different versions of a web page or similar – A and B – are tested against each other to ensure businesses are using the best content and layout to improve conversion rates. A is typically the current web page design and B is usually the modified version. You may decide to test with more than two options and this is easily achieved as a multi-variant test.

What is the importance of A/B testing?

Any type of business which directs customers or clients to an end goal whether that is a checkout, quote or enquiry form can benefit tremendously from A/B testing. Even the smallest improvement in conversion rates can have a significant impact on revenue.

In a business with multiple decision makers it is very easy to have differing opinions about how a website or marketing material should be presented. That’s why A/B testing is so effective as it allows you to implement potential changes and measure their impact.

What areas should you test?

In a profit-driven environment it is important to begin by testing pages or elements of your content that have the biggest influence on conversions and profit margins. Enquiry and product pages are therefore a good starting point, with the ability to test numerous elements from colours and fonts through to page layout and the page content itself.

If you are planning on testing more than more than one element of a specific page it is imperative that you test changes one at a time. In order to improve conversions you want to be entirely certain of what changes caused the uplift.

Before you interpret the results and even consider implementing any changes it is important to have criteria with which to test your results. Ensure you are clear with what goals you hope to achieve from the testing, whether it is increasing sign-ups or enquiries – the variation that provides the highest sign-ups or enquiries is the one you should use.


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