If you’re wondering what A/B testing is, here’s a definition: simply put, A/B testing is split testing.
Here’s an easy, real life example. You own a coffee shop, and you want to see which type of packaging sells best. You offer a green package and a yellow package. You test them for one month. In the end, you learn that people buy the same flavor of coffee more often when it’s in the green package.
You just conducted an A/B test.
As it pertains to website conversion rates, A/B testing is the comparison of two versions of a web page to see which one works better – page A or page B. You compare the two, see which one converts better, and you move forward with the one that has a higher conversion rate.
A/B testing takes you from “you think” to “you know.” You might have “thought” people would like the yellow package, but after the test, you realized the green sells better. The same thing applies to website marketing.
A/B split testing allows you to spend your online dollars wisely because you learn what drives your customers and compels them to take the desired action.
In this article, we’re going to talk about how to grow your conversion rates with an A/B testing calendar.
You’re probably thinking, “What the @&%# Jon?!?! Who cares about a stupid calendar? That isn’t going to increase anything. I have a My Little Pony Calendar from 2013 sitting on my desk, and it does nothing but collect dust.”
OK, got it. You’re right, sort of. Putting your strange fetish in desk calendars aside, a testing calendar keeps you testing, even when you don’t want to. When you’ve grown bored or frustrated or are just to busy cleaning out the 31,384 emails that accumulated in your email box before the end of the year.
To be successful, you must be disciplined and keep pushing. After a while you will gain insights and break-throughs you never thought possible. Put a calendar together and kick yourself in the ass and get moving. These are the basics that actually work. The results WILL come!
Make a Plan
You don’t want to be testing just for the sake of testing. You want to amplify your conversion rate optimization, so you want a plan, a guide that moves you forward on a profitable path.
It’s important to set goals so you know what you’ve achieved. How do you set goals? Decide what you want to test – perhaps it’s the number of sign-ups, or it may be the number of a certain kind of shirt you sell. You might want to increase your average order values, so you decide to test discounts on certain dollar amounts.
You can test page design, colors, form fields, buttons, calls to action, form length and much more. You’ll set all of this out in your plan. Here are the most common items people test for landing page conversion rates:
- Call to action (button, wording, color, size and the placement of the button)
- Product description (type of description and length)
- Promotional offers
- The form itself (length, wording, fields)
Remember, though, to only test one element on a page at a time so you have clear results.
Create a Calendar
A calendar or schedule is vital so that your conversion rate optimization plan is always moving forward.
So, how do you create the calendar? While there are many ways to set up your A/B testing calendar, one of the most straightforward is to use an Excel spreadsheet or Google Sheet. Heck, put it yellow sticky notes if you have to, just keep it simple and do it.
Here are a few ideas to get you started with your column headings:
- Name of the test
- Possibility of big impact (rate 1-10)
- Ease to technically implement (rate 1-10)
- Prioritize (Just put them in order of testing on the calendar
- Location of the test: product(s) or page(s) affected
- Testing platform (desktop or mobile)
- Item being tested – this is where you list each variant. Give each variant its own column.
- Hypothesis – think back to science class and create a hypothesis to test – this is where you write down what you “think” will happen
- The metric – what you’re testing, for example email sign-ups
- A test Results (using your analytics)
- B test Results (using your analytics)
- Winner (Although modern testing engines to a good job keeping tracking results, it’s good to put in your own list)
- What did you learn (be brutally honest and dig deep to see what you THINK happened and why)
If you’re using a spreadsheet, create a separate tab for each month so you can look at each one quickly.
Every plan and calendar should include information on the following:
- The campaign/test
- Why you are performing the test
- What you hope to learn
This makes your testing so much easier to track and monitor.
Measure Your Results
One of the most important aspects of A/B testing is measuring your results. You’ll want to set a baseline for your results – this is specific to your company. You might set a baseline for how many days tests should run, how many clicks a test should get or how many impressions.
Stay consistent on the baseline for your tests if you’ll be comparing them.
For the best results, let your test run for a while. Let your test reach statistical significance. This means that your statistic is significant, and your test was reliable. It will help you learn whether your finding is important, and if you can make a decision from it.
This is why it’s important to allow your A/B testing to run for a long enough duration. Look online for a calculator. It will help you determine if you can walk away from a test with a high confidence level in it.
The significance is determined using the total number of visitors who participated in the A and B version of your test and the number of conversions for each test. If you have too few web visitors or conversions, you’ll need to let the test run.
What do you gain from A/B testing? You gain insight into your website visitor. You learn about their behavior so that you can move forward with that information to increase your conversion rates. With A/B testing in your marketing arsenal, you can adjust landing pages, offers and visuals to optimize your conversions.
With a plan in hand and a calendar outlining what you’ll test and when, you’ll grow your conversion rates. A/B testing is a proven way to give a boost to your conversion rates and drive more website sales.
Lastly, get in the habit of testing. Spend an hour or two each month planning and creating your A/B testing calendar so you can optimize your tests. Creating these calendars helps keep you motivated to generate more tests so you can grow your conversion rates on an ongoing basis. Basically: Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
Congratulations! You are on your way to using real-time behavioral analysis powered by your A/B testing calendar to grow your conversion rates. If you can measure an action, it can always be improved through A/B testing. Add it to your calendar and start testing!
If you’d like more information on how to grow your conversion rates with an A/B testing calendar, we can help. Conversion rate optimization is our specialty. We can help you use A/B testing to drive more visitors to your landing pages and improve your overall conversion rate. Contact us today.
We’ll provide you with our FREE site performance analysis so we can help you create an A/B testing calendar and monitor your A/B testing for the best results.
Image: Eliazar Parra Cardenas