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What is A/B testing

By February 13, 2018March 15th, 2023No Comments

A/B testing, also known as split testing, is a way to compare two versions of a campaign on different channels.  The difference between the two versions can be as simple as the color of a button or the wording of a message.

For example, a company wants to see if a blue checkout button on their product page will perform better than their current green button. They run an A/B test to compare the two. If the blue button results in higher conversions, the company will continue to use it. If the green button performs better, they can make the switch.

It’s important to test only one element at a time so that the results are clear and the conclusions are firm. This way, marketers can understand the effectiveness of each variable in driving conversions. They can then make changes to improve their efforts and increase their return-on-investment.

The A/B Testing Process

First, let’s discuss what to consider testing, and then, we will discuss how you test.  When it comes to A/B testing, you can test almost anything. With that being said, here are

Some general areas to consider and pursue:  

Messages: Which message and/or copy resonated the most with our target audience?

Visuals: Which visual impacted the most conversions? Within messages and visuals, there are countless elements that can be tested. In particular, marketers should look to test elements that they believe directly affect conversion rates and are high impact for your business. Here are elements for you to consider testing, broken down by channel:

What to test?

Web-page Background:

An example of a Web Page Background Color A/B Test could be a company testing to see which color leads to a higher conversion rate. They would create two versions of their website, one with a blue background and one with an orange background. Then they would randomly show either version to different visitors. They would then track the conversion rate of each version and compare the results to see which color had a higher conversion rate. Just remember, if you want your website to rank, you need to have an effective SEO strategy, you can learn more about SEO here.

Email Sender Name:

An example of an A/B test comparing email sender names could be a test between “Wilderness Premium Content” and “Ryan Smith”. The goal is to determine which sender name generates higher open and click-through rates. The test would involve sending the same email to a portion of subscribers with one sender name and another portion with the other name. The results would then be analyzed to determine which sender name was more effective.

Email Subject Line:

Mobile A/B Testing

An A/B test for Mobile Site Sponsored Listings involves comparing two different versions of sponsored listings on a mobile website.Then see which version performs better in terms of metrics such as click-through rate (CTR) and conversion rate. For example, one version may have larger images and more detailed descriptions, while the other may have simpler and more concise listings. By testing these two versions, the business can determine which version resonates best with their target audience. From then make informed decisions about how to optimize their sponsored listings.

Digital Ad Copy:

This type of testing is typically done with PPC ads, email campaigns, or social media ads. The goal is to find the best-performing ad copy to maximize results, such as click-through rates, conversions, or engagement. An example of A/B testing for digital ad copy could be testing two different headlines for a PPC ad. For example, “Get 50% off today!” versus “Limited time offer: 50% discount”. The ad with the higher CTR or conversion rate would be the winner and used in future campaigns.

A/B Testing workflow

For a successful integration of A/B testing into a marketing strategy, it’s important to approach it as a consistent process. All members of the marketing team should have an understanding of testing and optimization. They should also be able to articulate the benefits of A/B testing. To follow is a step-by-step guide for an A/B tester:

  1. Choose a factor to test: Select a component that you believe will influence customer behavior, such as a pricing page, sign-up page, welcome email, etc.
  2. Formulate a hypothesis: Like any scientific method, A/B testing starts with a hypothesis. The marketing team should have a well-thought-out hypothesis regarding what they expect to happen as a result of the test, such as an increase in conversions, click-through rate, or customer time spent on a webpage. The hypothesis can be based on various sources such as past successful practices, insights from colleagues, customer feedback, or intuition.
  3. Determine the sample group: Ensure that you use a sample size large enough to produce significant results. This could involve splitting your email contact list in two, for example.
  4. Establish success criteria: Define what you hope to achieve through testing and optimization. Success can be measured in terms of opens, clicks, shares, conversions, and more.
  5. Set up the test: Plan when to conduct the test and determine its duration.
  6. Analyze results: After the test is complete, examine the data sets and results based on the success factors established earlier. Keeping a record of your results can be helpful.
  7. Determining the Winning Version: Evaluate which version of the test produced better results. Consider if the difference in performance is significant or just marginal. It is important to determine if the results are statistically significant. 
  8. Implementing Changes: Based on the results of the test, make necessary modifications. For example, if the red call-to-action button proves to be more effective than the black one, change it on the corresponding page or email.

The Key to Unlocking Customer Engagement and Campaign Effectiveness

A/B testing is a powerful tool that can help companies to uncover methods that truly resonate with their target audience. By assessing the actions of buyers, A/B testing reveals what truly appeals to them. They show what advances consumer engagement, campaign effectiveness, and marketer expertise.

Here are a few specific reasons why A/B testing should be a part of your company’s marketing strategy:

Increases Customer Engagement

  1. A/B testing is all about improving the interactions between buyers and brands. Whether you’re looking to make more engaging personalized emails or optimize your social media channels, A/B testing opens up all communication channels to create stronger connections with your customers.

Enhances Campaign Effectiveness

  1. A/B testing allows you to try out different combinations for a specific group of customers, so you can eliminate elements that drive people away, have no effect on conversion rates, or even alienate users. It’s important to remember that not all audiences respond the same way to a single campaign, and that’s why A/B testing can help you optimize your programs for your target audience.

Enhances Marketers’ Awareness and Expertise of Audience Preferences

  1. A/B testing provides businesses with a wealth of data on audience behavior, which can help marketers to gain a robust understanding of their target audience’s preferences. The more tests that you run, the more intuitive your marketing choices will become, leading to better results and higher returns on investment.

In conclusion, A/B testing is an essential part of any company’s marketing strategy. By unlocking customer engagement and enhancing campaign effectiveness, it can help achieve your marketing goals and deliver the best ROI possible. So why not start testing today and see the results for yourself!

The Importance of Segmentation in A/B Testing

Segmenting your audience can greatly enhance the focus of your A/B tests. Segmentation involves grouping potential buyers based on their characteristics, needs, and preferences. This helps to ensure that people with similar attributes also have similar buying behaviors and respond similarly to changes made in an A/B test.

Without segmentation, you risk treating your entire audience as one entity, which can result in misleading A/B test results. The objective of an A/B test is to measure the impact of a single variable change. To obtain accurate results, it is crucial to test each variation on separate groups of buyers.

To effectively analyze the results of an A/B test, you must first segment your buyers. Four common segmentation approaches: source, behavior, outcome, and demographic.

  • Segment by source: Based on the source that led the buyer to your website or channel, such as a paid ad or a Facebook newsfeed link.
  • Segment by behavior: Based on the actions the buyer takes when using a certain channel.
  • Segment by outcome: Based on the products or services the buyer is interested in or regularly purchases, or the type of event they typically register for.
  • Segment by demographic: Based on the buyer’s age, gender, location, or other defining qualities.

For example, you could perform an A/B test on two groups of 18-25-year-olds to maintain control over the conclusions drawn from the test. It’s important to test elements that pertain to all stages of the customer journey. You should only test one element at a time, and test incrementally with a strategic plan in mind.

Remember to be patient, see the test through to completion, and trust your instincts if the results differ from your hypothesis. Obtaining strong data through full testing can help better support your recommendations to company stakeholders. Don’t hesitate to consult co-workers from different teams for input on your tests, and test the entire customer journey.

Measuring A/B Test Results

The interpretation and tracking of results is crucial in A/B testing. It allows marketers to identify areas for improvement in their campaigns. Optimizely suggests evaluating results based on their added value. This means even a small increase in conversion rate could have a significant impact on revenue.

To determine the statistical significance of your test results, compare the two versions to see if there is a significant difference between them. The validity of the results can be determined through hypothesis testing and is known as statistical significance. This concept refers to the level of confidence in the accuracy of the results from an A/B test.

To simplify this process, use an online A/B testing significance calculator offered by websites such as Optimizely or KISSmetrics. These tools are often free and it’s a good idea to use multiple calculators to double-check your results.


Key Takeaways:

  1. A/B testing revolutionizes marketing with real-time data and immediate implementation capabilities.
  2. Utilize A/B testing to optimize your campaigns.
  3. A/B testing is a continuous process that requires adaptation to changing trends and preferences.
  4. Test elements across all your campaigns to maximize sales and conversions.  Get started with testing today!
  5. The possibilities of A/B testing are endless, all it takes is persistence, creativity, and automation.