Don’t waste a good business idea, by having a website that doesn’t bring in leads, making it potentially detrimental to your sales. A/B testing (also known as a split test) is an experiment for deciding which of the different variations of an online experience performs better by showcasing each version to users at random and analyzing the results.
Exactly what is A/B testing?
It’s a test between two options, to check which one is more effective. Usually, there are a current variant A and an alternative variant B. The audience is then split into halves. One group will see A, the other B. The results should show which option worked better depending on what the goal of the test was.
To get the most out of A/B testing, you should follow these 7 proven steps
Step 1: Check All The Important Data
With every business, the goal is to make a profit, but when trying to increase sales, you need to see the full picture. It’s necessary to understand the performance of your website beforehand to see whether the A/B test made any difference to website performance whatsoever.
A suitable tool for that is Google Analytics. Forbes Councils Member Tripp Donnelly in his article highlights that when using Google Analytics, you’ll be able to start applying historical data to help you better understand what has worked best in the past so you can optimize your campaigns for future success.
Step 2: What’s Your Problem?
When you’ve gathered all the data you need, analyze it. You shouldn’t try to fix what isn’t broken. Look for the problems you want to solve or cases you want to improve. For example, Mark Bulik, the senior editor for The New York Times says that they use A/B testing for their headlines: “The Times generally uses the tests when a story isn’t performing as well as expected.”
Once you’ve identified the issue and set a goal for the A/B test, keep your focus on them. When trying something new, you might notice changes in other fields that are not related to your initial need for an A/B test. For example, when the New York Times tried to get more people to open the article, it decreased the average time spent reading it. Since the average time spent wasn’t the goal it shouldn’t matter when deciding on a winning headline.
Step 3: From a Problem To a Hypothesis
With the issue, you want to solve and a set goal, it’s time to think about the specific part of your website you want to test. Let’s say you’re wondering what type of an offer works best – a bigger discount for a single item or a smaller discount for the whole cart? Before even running the test, you should already pre-determine the outcome for both options.
Your prediction is your hypothesis which is a vital part of an A/B test. “Testing a hypothesis is trying to determine if your observation is likely to have really occurred based on statistics” – explains Sirah Dubois on Sciencing.
Step 4: Create The B For Your A
With an existing website, you already have one variant (A), but to run a successful test you need to compare with something else which is will be your variant B. Every single detail has to be identical, except for the feature you want to test. You can’t make multiple changes in the same A/B test, because it becomes impossible to analyze the results then. So stick to your goal and ensure that variant B has a single alteration.
Step 5: Get The Best Out Of Your Test
At step 5 your test is ready to go. To get the best results, you should consider a few more details. First of all, test both of the versions at the same time. For this, you need to split your audience into groups, showing them different options during the same period. If you try your options at different times, results might be affected not only by to the difference in variants, but by the timing itself.
Another essential detail is to split your audience into equal groups. It’s not enough to simply have two groups of people, they have to be the same in size too. Only this way, the data you collect is representative. It’s important to consider the size of your audience as well, as small groups might show accidental results. To collect useful data, keep in mind that the smaller the group, the longer the test should take.
Step 6: Put Results Into Use
When you collect enough data, it’s time to apply the learnings you have made. You should check the numbers of both variants and stick with the one that performed better. A/B tests don’t have to bring changes all the time as it’s normal that the existing option works better than the alternative. This kind of result doesn’t mean that the test was unsuccessful, but it proves that the current situation is just fine.
Step 7: Try Again
After a finished test, you already know which version performed better. But the results sum up only those two options. This means that you can test it over and over again with every new option that comes to mind. This will show you not only the best version out of two but the best one of them all.
You can see it as a video game where you try to reach the highest score. Arnas Stuopelis, Chairman of the Board of Hostinger says: “Curiosity should be the drive of A/B testing. It is fun to think of new ideas and test them out. That’s why one of our principles is Learn and Be Curious. It turns trying into a game, so it is easier to try without the fear of failing.”
It’s very likely that you put all of your efforts into creating your website, so the thought of change may seem unpleasant. But remember that A/B tests are there to help you improve your site. By improving your site you should be able to see a positive change in performance and sales. So take a chance, A/B test and skyrocket your earnings.