What is A/B Testing?

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Too often the marketing content and designs that we produce are based on assumptions. Sometimes these are well researched and justified, and sometimes it’s just the way we like something. While everything may work out, the results are rarely optimized.

A/B testing is a way to take our thoughts out of the equation and demonstrate with hard numbers from real customers which version of an asset is better. Also called split testing or bucket testing, this method takes two versions of the same digital asset and randomly serves this to visitors. For example companies will make two versions of a sales page and randomly display the page to different visitors to see which one ends in more sales.

After there have been enough people looking at them, you analyze the results and pick a winner. This allows business owners to ask focused questions and have confidence that the changes you make are the right ones. These tests are standard for deciding on the best copy for ads, web design for pages, newsletters, mobile apps, sales pages, and any other digital design that your customers will interact with.

The practice of using A/B testing has long been popular in marketing. The ability to construct theories and hypotheses and put them to the test allows marketers to write more persuasive ads that target the right consumers. By only changing one item at a time, they are able to find the exact changes that have the most effect. You can continually improve and enhance the user’s experience.

The process of A/B testing uses the following steps:

  1. Collect Data to find the best places to begin optimizing your site.
  2. Identify goals that will help determine success.
  3. Generate a hypothesis of what kind of changes will get you the ideal result.
  4. Create the variations of the element that you are testing.
  5. Run the experiment and direct traffic to both of the pages.
  6. Analyze the results to pick a winner that now becomes the standard asset for your site.

A single change may not create that large of a difference, but by stacking the results companies are able to find the sweet spot and give their customers exactly what they respond to. Large companies use this on every single aspect of their site. Everything down to the headlines and the colors of buttons can and has been tested.

For these large entities, there are large gains to be had from just moving the needle a few percentage points. However, with modern tools, it’s a practice that should be used by even small businesses. Using these cheap tools will allow you to make large strides in how you optimize for your ideal customer behavior.

Doing these tests won’t hurt your ranking either. When it comes to SEO, Google enthusiastically encourages you to do A/B testing.
The search giant understands the importance of this task and doesn’t penalize websites for doing it. Because better pages will hold the user’s attention longer, testing will help SEO in the long run.

Even for small and local businesses, this is an effective way to generate more sales and increase business.

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