A/B testing is a marketing tactic used to analyze and understand what type of content and design attracts and converts most visitors. Whether your business is B2B or B2C, using A/B testing will help you to have a better view of your audiences’ purchasing behavior and track the performance of your marketing content.
What is A/B Testing?
A/B testing is a marketing experiment where you compare two different variations of your ads and content. You create Variation A and Variation B and split the traffic 50/50. The two versions are then shown to a segmented audience at the same time to determine which version is performing better. The version that meets your conversion goals and drives business metrics will be kept running while the other version will be removed.
This helps businesses and marketers align their efforts to the right marketing strategy. A/B testing provides measurable results. It makes you confident in how you position your offer to the target audience. Learning how users respond to your marketing and sales methods helps you customize specific campaigns and optimize the experience for the visitors.
How does A/B Testing Work?
You compare the current version (control) of a landing page, element, CTA, etc. against one or more variations that include the changes you would like to test. For example, you want to run a Facebook Ad and want to find out what creatives will drive the most clicks and conversions. You will then test two versions of
your ad and divide the traffic equally. The visitors will be randomly exposed to the different variations of your ads within a specified time.
Then, you compare both results and find their differences. If one variant is performing well and meeting your target conversion and sales, stick to it. Learn the factors why it is generating better results than the other. Find what changes are worth implementing and identify the key points that could be affecting the way your target audience responds.
Why Mortgage Industry should use A/B Testing?
The mortgage industry is highly competitive. The majority of your competitors are also embracing digital transformation. It is not beneficial for your business to run generic ads or launch new ads that did not undergo any split testing.
Loan officers should make data-driven decisions to bring more customers and generate bigger revenue. A/B testing helps businesses to solve customers’ pain points and leverage the existing web traffic. It provides meaningful insights that mortgage companies can use to improve campaign results. Whatever your goals are – booking appointments, increasing sign-ups, or boosting sales and conversions, you need to test consistently and measure the effectiveness of your marketing content and creatives.
The Main Benefits Of A/B Testing
Having a website and sales pages is not enough. If you are not able to collect data insights from customers’ interactions and behavior, your lead generation, and sales campaign will likely be a hit-or-miss scenario. Using A/B testing offers a lot of advantages for your business. You can interpret the collected data and make accurate assumptions and decisions. This can lead to getting more qualified leads and achievable marketing goals. Below are some of the key benefits of A/B testing and how it can help businesses grow and thrive:
Below are some of the key benefits of A/B testing and how it can
1. Solve visitor’s pain points
Your website acts as your online brochure. As much as possible, you don’t want your web visitors just to browse your website without taking any action. Visitors come to your website to search for a solution to their needs and problems. If the content on your website is not compelling and engaging, they may likely leave and jump to your competitor’s website.
Ensure that your website does not have a confusing copy or complicated navigation. Visitors are likely looking for information about your product or service or want to learn about a specific topic in your industry. Whatever their goals are, it is important to have content that talks about their pain points. A few reasons why conversion rate can be low are due to the lack of clear content and hard-to-find CTA buttons.
To find out how visitors interact with your website, you can use visitor behavior analysis tools like Google Analytics. Run A/B testing to identify the elements of your website where your visitors struggle. Imagine you have very few sign-ups for your mortgage website. To find out the cause, you can test your services page or contact page and create different versions. Maybe you can tweak the copy, add case studies, make the copy shorter, etc. The results will tell you the gaps that you need to fill.
2. Reduce Bounce Rates
Bounce rate is an important metric that tells about your website’s performance. How long do users stay on your website? Bounce rate measures how many users visit and exit your website without clicking any button or browsing other pages on your website. A higher bounce rate means your website could be giving a bad impression to the visitors. By running A/B testing, you can identify the reasons why visitors leave your site early and fix what is wrong. Common issues include poor website layout, confusing navigation, too much technical jargon, and bad web design.
With A/B testing, you can experiment on multiple variations of your website and test different elements that could bring a positive change to your web performance. Maybe you need to replace images, include a call to action, and tweak your content. It’s really up to you to test and find out. This will help you gain a proper understanding of why visitors leave and identify the factors that make them stay on your website. As a result, you can better optimize your website and enhance website visitors’ overall experience.
3. Increase Conversion Rates
No matter how many leads you get, if they are not converting, it is just a waste of time and effort. To maximize the results of the advertising campaigns, businesses need to identify what works and what doesn’t help to convert more leads.
A/B testing is an effective way to know how visitors turn into buyers. Not knowing the elements that lead to sign-ups and purchases will make you an ineffective marketer. By putting effort and time to craft two versions of your campaign, you will be able to determine how to qualify leads better and convert more leads. Knowing what type of content your target customers like and what offers or promos they prefer will give your business positive results.
4. Improve Content and Engagement
If content is king, then engagement is queen. Content drives traffic to your website and makes people informed and interested in your products and services. A/B tests will help you know how people consume and interact with your content. Do your social media posts get positive engagement? What is the number of clicks on the CTAs on your website? Running A/B tests for your ad copies and social media content gives you creative ideas to generate consistent engagement.
For example, version A of your content uses illustrations and vector images while version B uses real-life and personal photos. Then the results showed that version B garnered over a 15% increase in engagement and 1,000 more clicks. You might want to switch your approach and tweak your content parallel to the data you collected. The same goes for your website copies and sales pages. You may want to learn what triggers visitors to take further action and so you test written testimonials vs video testimonials, and make smart improvements.
5. Reduce Risks
You do not want to jump into early assumptions without any clear basis. For example, you hire a web design team to create a new website for your business only to find out that the old website only needs a few changes to increase conversions. Not only do you lose money and valuable time, but it also disrupts your strategies and creates confusion.
By conducting A/B tests, you avoid unnecessary risks. You can test every part of your content and marketing strategy to examine your customer behavior better. Making informed decisions backed up by tests leads to long-term success and better ROI.
6. Reduce Cart Abandonment
Whether you are selling a product or service or you are into ecommerce, one of the biggest problems you want to solve is cart abandonment. Having a high cart abandonment rate is disappointing. One of the main reasons why customers abandon their carts is, that they do not see enough value in your offer. This may be due to ineffective sales pages, complicated navigation, and poor branding.
Here are the common reasons why customers abandon their carts:
• Lack of Trust Signals
• Low Purchase Intent
• Unexpected Fees
• You have limited payment options
• Confusing checkout procedure
• Your website is not mobile-friendly
Performing A/B tests will help you enhance user experience, which is vital for the success of the checkout page. It will help you see and fix issues before they become big problems. With A/B tests, you do not need any guesswork. It shoots you in the right direction and tells you what adjustments you need to take.
7. Increase Sales
The main goal of every marketing plan is to increase sales. It will be difficult to push for growth if you do not have any idea of what needs to be fixed or what are the next steps you need to take. Using A/B testing methods, you can test out different marketing strategies and see what performs best. You can analyze various metrics and learn which areas you need improvement.
At the core of all successful sales funnels and advertising campaigns are the A/B tests conducted to optimize every part of the customer journey. This leads to better conversion rates, better customer engagement, and increased sales. When you provide an excellent user experience to the visitors, the more likely they will trust your brand and become your customers.
8. Ease of Analysis
The wonderful thing about A/B testing is that it allows you to easily determine what method is working well and what doesn’t. It gives you real, factual results which are straightforward to analyze. By comparing two variations, you can simply determine the winner and the loser based on the specific criteria that you set.
For example, landing page A generated fewer clicks, shorter time spent, and a lower conversion rate than landing page B. That means landing page B is a winner and you should utilize it moving forward for your future campaigns. With A/B tests, you are not just seeing statistical analysis but also how certain changes can affect the overall performance of your website and overall marketing strategy.
What are the Common Mistakes in A/B Testing?
So you already know the powerful benefits of A/B testing. As easy as it may sound, it requires careful planning and proper implementation. A/B testing is more than just setting and running a test but knowing what to test, and testing it in the right way.
If you don’t know how to run tests correctly, it can cause harm more than good. Imagine badly doing split tests and making the business invest in unnecessary changes. This can affect the company’s profit and overall marketing plan. This is why before you decide to run any A/B tests, it is important to learn from the mistakes of others so you won’t have to repeat them.
Below are the common A/B tests mistakes that you should avoid:
1. Testing the Wrong Page
How can you make a successful campaign if you don’t know the right page to test? When you choose the wrong page to test, you are wasting time, money, and resources. Many companies still fall for this and test wrong pages which do not have any significant impact on the bottom line. There are many pages to test, such as the top of the funnel (home page), category pages, landing pages, and bottom of the funnel (add to cart, checkout pages).
Since the major objective is to improve conversions that will lead to more leads and sales, the best pages to test should be the ones aligned with it. This includes products and services pages, landing pages, and demo pages.
The page you should test should be part of your marketing and sales funnel. To avoid testing the wrong page, take time to understand your customer journey and see what pages are responsible for it. For example, you have a high cart abandonment rate. You may think that it is ideal to test the checkout page yet the product and services may have contributed more to the issue.
2. Testing without a Valid Hypothesis
A/B testing is like problem-solving. It involves a series of steps, assumptions, and measurements. A hypothesis is a predictive statement of the possible issue and how fixing it can impact your KPI. Most companies and marketers just run tests without having a concrete hypothesis that tells what the tests are for. This creates meaningless results and is just a waste of time.
How to Come Up with a Test Hypothesis?
1. Use data and analytics software that tracks and measures the important metrics on your website. If you want to improve conversions, you may look at the traffic generated, the number of leads, sign-ups, purchases, etc.
2. Review how things are happening. Look at your lead magnet and see if it is convincing enough and observe the flow of your sales Speculate on the possible reasons why there is a huge bounce rate. Maybe the content is not compelling. Bad call to action? etc.
3. Make some possible changes that you think can improve your KPIs. For example, you might tweak your content, use a strong call to action, change the offer, etc. Test a different version and determine which one provided the most positive results.
4. Everything should be consistent and backed up with meaningful data. Ensure that the changes you make really make a big difference to your specific goals.
3. Running Too Many Split Tests at Once
Many testers are tempted to run multiple split tests in the hope of gathering more information. However, this idea is wrong. When you run many split tests at once, you will have to create different versions and send more traffic to each version. This can be difficult because you need a sample size to validate the data. The more variations you run, the biggest the sample size you need.
With too many variations and data all over the place, you won’t be able to accurately identify what was the problem. Keep your test samples to two to three variations only to avoid any potential error and to save time and resources.
4. Not testing your Copy
Content is one of the important elements of a sales page and the website itself. Many testers focus on the page design and forget about writing an engaging copy. No matter how amazing your products and services are, if you do not know how to convince your customers to purchase them, they are nothing.
Good content attracts potential buyers to stop and read more about your products. It makes them more interested and engaged. When you are running A/B tests, you should not only focus on making changes to the page layout but also tweaking the copy to make it more persuasive. Make sure that you are addressing your customers’ pain points and presenting solutions on your copy. Also, don’t forget to check the CTA texts. Sometimes, a few changes can make a big difference.
5. Copying other Split Tests
It is always fascinating to read about the success of others. While it is not wrong to learn from the mistakes and successes of others, it is not ideal to copy their split testing strategies. Not because their case study looks promising, you will try to replicate it. Everyone’s business is different, which is why you should take a more tailored and personalized approach to test your marketing efforts. Your business is unique, so do not try to copy others and wish for the same results.
6. Calling the Test Too Soon
You’re excited – you run the test, and after a few days, you saw some results. You found the winning design and content and decided to stop the test and implement the changes. That’s the common mistake that impatient marketers make. Calling off the tests early does not give you the full results and thus, you are missing the right metrics you need.
Not because you see great results within two days, you will immediately click the “Stop Test” button. Instead, wait about a week or more to see if the results are consistent or if there are any fluctuations. Most A/B testing software declares a winner after gaining a 95% confidence level. However, it is best to let your test pass the 95% mark before stopping it. Running the test throughout the week will also give you an idea of what days of the week you got the most and least conversions. The next time you run an ad, you know exactly when to launch it.
7. Doing A/B Tests without Having Enough Traffic
If you do not have any significant traffic on your website. It is better to focus on leveraging your marketing efforts first. Since your traffic is low, running tests won’t make any sense. The important step is to build your audience first so you will have enough sample size.
If your traffic does not even exceed a few hundred a month, just be patient. It is statistically unfeasible and will be difficult for you to achieve the results you want. Instead of worrying too much about running A/B tests, you can try other marketing methods.
This includes creating surveys that ask for your customers’ experience when navigating/shopping with your website and encouraging feedback and testimonials. You can analyze this data and apply changes based on your customers’ experience. Once you build traffic and get a minimum audience, you can start testing.
8. Changing Parameters Mid-Test
The best way to mess up your A/B testing campaign is to make changes in the middle of the test. Make sure that before you run it, you have reviewed everything and there are no corrections or changes you need to apply. Altering your split testing goals or changing a variation during the A/B testing period will affect the results and invalidate your test. If you really want to make changes, it is better to start the test again and not do it mid-test.
9. You Focused Only on Getting Conversions
Understandably, the goal of most businesses online is to increase conversions. There is nothing wrong with increasing sales, generating more profit, and expanding the business. However, it is important to understand that there are other vital KPIs, not just conversions. These include cost for lead, cost per customer acquisition, conversion rate, customer lifetime value, and more.
Focusing too much on conversions can mess up your A/B testing and can even affect your sales. More conversions but low sales? Yes, that can happen if you focus on conversions. More conversions do not always equate to more sales and revenue.
For example, you have a subscription-based service where you are offering a $49/month premium fee. You decided to lower it to $29/month. You run the test and see a 6% increase in conversion rate and you’re assuming that your plan worked. The truth is, doing it just hurts your potential sales. Yes, you get a spike in conversions but you just attracted low-quality leads who are only willing to pay a cheap amount for your service. Those leads will not commit to you long-term. As a result, you will get a low customer retention rate and will work on generating leads again.
The same applies to changing your annual plans into monthly plans. Your customers who opt for the monthly plan tend to quit after a few sessions whereas the high-quality annually-subscribed customers are likely to stick with you long-term. You can be getting more conversions while losing more money, so watch your pricing carefully!
10. Calling the Tests Too Late
Same as calling the tests too early, stopping the tests too late can impact the results and cause errors. This is why most successful marketers advise that you should limit the period of your A/B tests to no longer than 30 days. When running tests, keep pushing until you reach 95-99% statistical significance and ensure that you have at least 1,000 conversions.
Some companies are doubtful about the results gathered within the 2-4 week testing period and want to run the test for two to three months to achieve confidence. Doing this leads to a waste of effort and resources. Running the tests too long just pollutes the testing data and messes up the entire experiment. Once you have the required sample size and reached statistical significance, you can stop the test and draw sound conclusions.
11. Getting the Timing Wrong
To achieve successful A/B testing, timing is everything. Timing plays a vital role in visitors’ experience and conversions.
Here are the 2 common mistakes that A/B testers make related to timing:
1. Comparison of Different Periods
If you want reliable and unbiased results, then you need results from a comparable period and not from a different one. For example, if you get most of your website traffic on Friday, you should never compare split testing results to the days where you get low traffic. This doesn’t provide genuine results. Similarly, you should not compare regular days to seasonal booms and holidays.
Run tests for comparable periods where both variables are fair. This will make you accurately analyze if the changes you make have contributed to any difference.
2. Testing Different Time Delays
During A/B testing, you should only change a few items or elements on a page and not the timing. For example, if your variation 1 campaign shows 5 seconds after your visitors land on your website, and variation 2 shows after 20 seconds, that is not a valid split test. It is a faulty split test because you are not comparing similar audiences. The results will favor variation 1 since most people stay on the page for 5 seconds. This scenario will just present inaccurate, unreliable, and pointless results.
12. Not Testing Significant Elements
So you already have a hypothesis you want to test out. You are thinking that changing the image on your landing page can increase the conversion rate. You can also assume that changing the color of the CTA button will lead to a massive increase in sales. While this can be true at some point, they are not the main reasons for higher traffic and increased sales. Usually, it is due to the combination of significant elements.
Do not forget the small details and important elements such as text placement, font, template, headline, body copy, offer, and others. Testing only a single element on your sales and landing page and sticking to what the results say is not beneficial. Imagine you want to reduce cart abandonment rate and you only test the CTA button on the checkout page. Incomplete and ineffective test, right? Instead, you could also be testing the pricing, product/service description, media, and page navigation. This way, you know what is going on instead of just guessing what could be wrong with your sales page.
13. You are Never Satisfied with the Results
Whatever the results are, be it big or small, it is important to be satisfied. Some marketers continuously test and test their pages and strategies because they are not happy with the results even though they are positive ones. Understand that you cannot control everything and there are external factors that can affect your expectations. Instead of being a perfectionist, celebrate small wins. Use the past results as a motivation to make better campaigns and strategies. The more contented and calmer you are, the better decision you can make.
What to A/B Test?
There are many websites and marketing elements to test and it is up to you to test the ones that make the most sense to your objectives. Since companies and businesses have limited time and resources, it is ideal to devote your energy to the elements that bring the most impact to your business in terms of sales, profit, and growth.
Here are the top elements that you should consider tweaking and testing:
Effective headlines have the power to instantly grab your visitors’ attention. It is the first thing that people see on your website, so it needs to be engaging and powerful. If your headline cannot convey your message properly, visitors will not treat your content seriously.
Brainstorm 15-20 headlines and pick the best 3 that you think better resonate with your audience. Test the 3 headline variations and see which is a better alternative than the original one. It is also important to learn some copywriting techniques so you’ll know the best writing practices for an effective, catchy, and persuasive headline.
• Your CTAs (call to action)
Your call to action sends signals to your visitors to take action. You don’t want them to stay on your website, read information, and leave. Bounce rates and cart abandonment are often the results of poor CTAs.
A persuasive call to action does not only involve the text but also the way you display it on your page. This involves being mindful of other characteristics such as button shape, color, size, contrast, text color, and placement (left, right, center of the page, above the page, or bottom of the page).
• Pricing Copy
The way you present your pricing details can influence customers’ purchasing behavior. In this internet age, every customer is becoming a wiser and more informed buyer. They can simply jump from site to site and compare different prices and choose the one that may seem to be an excellent offer.
Running A/B tests, you can determine which pricing plan attracts most of your customers and which one makes them rethink their purchasing decision.
Here are the pricing elements that you need to test:
1. Design and structure of the pricing page
2. Number of pricing plans
3. Price difference between each plan
4. Different features of each plan
5. Monthly or Annual payment plan
6. High price vs low price
7. Trial offer or Money-back guarantee
• Video vs Image vs Text
There are different types of audiences. Some are visual learners who convert better after watching an informational product video, while some are content reading plain text and digesting long-form copies. Although there is no need to compare the three (video, image, and text) because they have their own strengths and weaknesses, knowing what content appears most to your customers is crucial.
• Video – Showing your product in action, what its unique features are, what problems it solves, and how your potential clients can use it.
• Image – Showing basic information about your product in the form of an infographic, or giving out steps and instructions to
• Text – Explaining the benefits of your product/service in detail and giving reasons why your prospective customers should invest their money in it.
It is advisable not to stick to one content format. Instead, use different formats to their advantage so that you can effectively deliver your brand message.
• Subject lines
A subject line consists of only a few words yet writing it is hard to master. It is so important because it directly impacts open rates and conversions. You may have a beautiful landing page and email copy but if the subject line does not entice the people to click the link and read the entire email, there is no chance that you can convert your leads.
Be creative with your subject lines. Gone are the days of boring, generic lines. Personalize your emails to add a human touch and grab your readers’ attention. Test various strategies until you find the one with the highest open and engagement rate. Use powerful words, test emojis, make an announcement, use numbers, create FOMO, and other interesting ways to encourage users to open the email.
We get it. You don’t want to spend much time producing photos yourself because it is demanding most of your time and energy. That is why you settle in just grabbing generic stock photos on the free photo-sharing sites on the internet. The problem is, that they do not provide any personal touch, and likely, your prospects had already seen them. Generic stock photos are overused by lazy marketers thinking that they can persuade potential buyers with cheap advertising materials.
Test your images and see which one converts better: stock photo vs your own-produced photo. You can also compare screenshots and infographics, or a photo of people using your product or just the product lying on a white background.
• Social Proof
About 79% of consumers read online reviews before buying a product or service. The more positive reviews a certain business has, the higher the probability that customers will trust it. People trust online reviews and they use them as a basis to make purchase decisions.
However, not because you put customer testimonials on your landing page and sales pages, customers will instantly buy your offer. It’s not that easy. You need to present your social proof in the most appealing way.
For example, using a real client’s photo is more convincing than just using a cartoon avatar. When displaying social proof, run A/B tests and compare video, static image, and quote testimonials to find out which one triggers the better conversion rate.
What are the Best Practices for A/B Testing?
Before you start A/B testing, make sure that you understand how your pages perform. It is necessary that you have a strategy so you know that you are heading in the right direction.
Here are the things to consider when running A/B tests:
1. Decide what to Test and Know your Objectives
What do you want to test? Are you trying to find out the right layout for your landing page? Do you want to test different email bodies? If you are just testing randomly and don’t have any specific goal, your tests will not be impactful.
If you are looking to improve customer acquisition, you might test your lead magnet and creatives. If you are aiming to generate more organic traffic, you can focus your effort on improving SEO and content.
2. Utilize Existing Data
You need a starting point in your A/B testing campaign. By using tools and analytics software, you can review your current and existing data and see where you are at. What does the data tell about your website performance? How is digital marketing strategy compared to your top competitors? Use the existing data as a baseline for all your future marketing efforts so that you can track any changes made, be it big or small.
3. Select the Right Variables to Test
Start with a few tests, and take them one by one rather than running too many tests at once. For example, you want to improve your lead generation pages. You can pick the webinar sign-up page as your focus element and the copy as the test variable. Doing this will help you optimize the opt-in forms better and generate more leads.
4. Set your Control and Challenger
The “version A” variable acts as your “control” while “Version B” serves as your “challenger”. The control is the original or existing version while the challenger is a tweaked variation that you want to test. By defining your control and challenger, you can easily monitor the impact of the changes you made, whether it is pushing towards your goal or not.
5. Get the Sample Size Right
As mentioned earlier, your test is pointless if you do not have enough sample size. Ensure that you have the required traffic and conversions, otherwise, you won’t get reliable results. Running A/B tests to less than a hundred visitors will not give valid results because the test sample is too small. If you want to get things right, build an audience first, position your brand to more people, and drive more traffic to your website.
6. Choose the Best A/B Testing Tools
Of course, A/B testing will not be possible without the use of amazing tools and technology. Not all tools have the same features and functionality, so do your research and shop wisely. Some of the popular A/B testing tools include Google Optimize, Optimizely, VWO, and Adobe Target. If you want a comprehensive A/B testing experience, you need to invest in the right tools.
7. Design and Run your Test
Once you have carefully planned out what to test, it’s time to set your variation B. Do not make any changes to the other variables as it will be difficult to know what changes have contributed to the results. This complicates your split testing and can mess up the whole campaign. Focus on one variable at a time before jumping on other details. When you are ready, run the test for 2-3 weeks and not more than 6 weeks. Also, don’t forget to target mobile users.
8. Accumulate Data and Analyze the Result
After pressing the “Start Test” button comes the waiting period. Avoid making any changes to your test while it is currently running because it will just ruin the results. Be patient and manage the data that the A/B testing software is collecting automatically. From there, you can view your target KPIs (key performance indicators) and see if they are meeting your objectives. Analyze the results for each variation and learn how they happen. Explore other hypotheses and findings from the other tests and compare any differences or similarities.
9. Connect the Results Back to your Goal
Now that you have run the test and gathered significant data, it is time to determine a winner between your control and challenger. Take a look at your objectives and KPIs and ask yourself how far are you from achieving those, using the results of your A/B tests. Connect the results to your long-term objectives and see how much push you need to achieve consistent growth.
10. Optimize your Ad and Run it Again
The split testing journey does not stop after you declare a winner. After you implement all the changes you learned from your findings, you are entering new tests again. Both marketing and customer behavior are dynamic and always changing. Optimize your ads and be open to emerging practices. Test often!
In this highly-competitive market, A/B testing is no longer a choice but a necessity. Instead of blindly guessing about the best digital marketing practices, conducting A/B tests give you more reliable and factual results. Successful businesses are not stagnant. They adapt and pivot to different scenarios such as a pandemic, market changes, and evolving customers’ preferences.
Having provided digital marketing services to different businesses for over 20 years, we know how to perform A/B tests accurately and efficiently. From web design, and search engine optimization, to social media, email marketing, and other online services, our team of marketing experts can help.
Schedule a free marketing assessment call with us today and we will help you test and analyze how your digital marketing efforts compare against your competitors. We will review your website, social media, ads, and email marketing performances and help you optimize them to achieve maximum success and growth.