Everything in marketing should be tested in order to continually refine and improve the performance of the campaign components.
One popular method is called AB testing – sometimes called split testing.
This takes one element in isolation and tests it against another variation, in order to compare how well each performs. The winner is then chosen and the process continues with another variant, or a different element to test.
This allows any marketing resource, such as a landing page, a website sign up form or a pricing table, to constantly be improving its conversion rates.
You may be scratching your head and wondering about where your content may stand currently in terms of performance levels. If you don’t use Google analytics, then start doing so.
The Benefits Of AB Testing
Continuously AB testing your marketing efforts and resources will progressively increase it’s quality and performance. It can also allow you to find a fault or find a spot where you need to focus more of your attention on, enabling you to increase your chances of spotting and leveraging opportunities others may miss.
Once tested, you have the ability to adjust and improve your content marketing to improve it’s impact on your business objectives. Quite often, this will ultimately mean earning or saving more money.
Before you go on testing your content, you want to be sure of some things first. Think about what marketing components effect your goals and objectives. Start at the top of your funnel and work through, testing as many elements as you can that come in contact with your customers.
What you need to do is ask yourself: What do people want? and What positively effects their behaviour?
If you are advertising and selling a product, should you test a variant that includes more pictures or a video to attract more attention? Or maybe the information you are giving is just not capturing your audiences imagination and you should test using a different sales pitch? There are many questions to ask yourself before you start AB testing.
A Basic Example Of AB Testing
AB testing is a means to conversion rate optimisation (CRO). Every business is built around the principles of people taking actions – to buy, to sell, to refer, to click – whatever a business sells it needs people to take actions.
Put simply, AB testing as part of your CRO efforts, aims to improve the percentage of people taking actions.
For instance, say you’re website sold camping equipment and you knew from your measurement and analysis that for every 10,000 website visitors, 100 orders were made. Or a 1% base conversion metric.
If you were to conduct AB testing on various marketing resources and improve your base conversion metric to 2%, then the next 10,000 website visitors would create 200 orders.
Let’s assume the average cost of order in this example is £100 and the average cost per website visitor is £1. You would effectively double your revenue after your AB testing has doubled your conversion rates.
How would doubling your sales effect your business?
It’s a basic example made for ease in understanding, but hopefully you see the value and importance of introducing AB testing into your efforts.
It’s also much more important to establish high converting marketing resources, BEFORE scaling up traffic. If you get your marketing resources fined tuned beforehand, your cost per acquisition would be much lower and your margins increase.
Remember, AB testing can be applied to any online marketing resource. Any time an action is required, the resources used to persuade the action can be improved.
Marketing Components You Should Be AB Testing
The first thing you notice when you visit a website is the layout and design. Everyone appreciates an attractive looking site without any harsh or sharp colours and edges. Where everything is placed is an important first step before planning any content and on-page elements.
Second are the smallest details. Even if you just want to change the wording of “Sign up“ to maybe “Sign up and Receive 10% off now!” – it will make a difference. The slightest change to a headline or even adding in a few different colours could make a decent impact on your conversion metrics.
Also think about mapping. Mapping your content is sometimes difficult. There are a wide range of ways you can go about getting your viewers to what you want them to see or do, be it purchasing a product or possibly even offering a discount at a certain point in your traffic flow.
Finally, think about the various resources in your marketing funnel that would benefit from AB testing. You can run as wide as you have the capacity to do. All your email resources, marketing automation, social media efforts, external sites and website pages and your lead magnets or downloadable content are all examples of additional resources to start AB testing.
Marketing Tools For AB Testing
If you are planning to use landing pages and don’t have coding knowledge, or access to a web designer, then you can use Unbounce, LeadPages or OptimizePress. They are drag and drop landing page creators that have built in split testing functionality.
OptinLinks provides the ability to use a two-step optin. Instead of displaying a form asking for details as soon as people enter your site or webpage, OptinLinks places a pop-up form behind a button, link or image. When clicked, the form then pops up asking for the details.
It’s a very effective and unobtrusive way of increasing your optins. But it also has built-in AB testing functionality for all the elements of the optin forms.
You might notice a coloured bar running across the top of many popular blogs and websites. This is an extra conversion resource that adds to your optin components.
I use Hello Bar, which has built in AB testing. You can use this resource to provide an additional email optin, or a button to navigate to your sales pages.
To AB test other elements on your WordPress website that are not stand alone features, such as sidebar graphics, or the placement of page elements, then the easiest and most effective method is to use a plugin like Optimizely.
A WordPress plugin you can use for AB testing your headlines is
Power Headline [No longer available]. It enables you to input multiple variations of a headline and once the time limit you set ends, the title with the most clicks is permanently chosen. This uses the same technology that many top publishing sites have, such as Forbes and UpWorthy.
You should be using email marketing alongside your content marketing efforts. My go-to software is MailChimp.
The beauty of MailChimp is that it has built in AB testing for subject headlines, from-names, send-dates and send-times.
Are You AB Testing Your Marketing?
All in all, it shouldn’t come as that much of a surprise that to improve your marketing, you should be AB testing.
Measuring your performance and testing different variations of your resources will teach you what works better, and what should be avoided in future.
Are you AB testing your marketing campaigns?
Do you use any tools or software to assist in AB or split testing?
What test results have provided the biggest impact on your performance?
Featured image source: Marketo