A / B testing is like the scientific method of websites. It allows you to run tests to find out what is working on your site and what is not, and with continuous testing, you can dramatically increase your revenue and conversion rate.
What is the A / B test?
A / B testing is a very simple concept. Your current website “A” serves as the control for this experiment. You then make a little change to your site – add a button here, change some colors, rearrange the layout, etc. Here is version B, your “hypothesis”.
You set up both pages and then divert a percentage of your site’s traffic to version B. This can be a small number or up to 50%. You can even run multiple tests, with version C, D, etc.
You let your experiment run for a fixed amount of time, and at the end of it, you can use analysis software to measure the performance of each version. Usually, this can all be done in a single software suite and will be very easy to configure. What you are generally looking for is a higher conversion rate (the percentage of users buying your product or reaching your goal).
You might find that version B with an extra button here or there works a little better than version A. If so, you can replace version A with version B, and now your website is a bit better.
One of the main pitfalls of A / B testing is what is called the local maximum. It’s when you’ve A / B tested everything you can think of and arrived at the best version of your original site, optimized as much as possible. But maybe your site doesn’t need to be tweaked. What if he needed something entirely different? This is called the global maximum, of which this graph Optimized shows pretty well:
A / B testing won’t magically make your website look fantastic, it’s just part of the development loop. You still need to analyze the results, make assumptions about what you can change to improve your site, and implement those changes. But being able to accurately measure the impact of changes on your conversion rate and other metrics is an important part of this process.
A / B testing isn’t just about marketing. You can run A / B tests to measure all kinds of dependent variables; for example, you can run a test with and without a CDN to determine its impact on your site’s load speed and ultimately your bounce rate.
What is a landing page?
A landing page is a highly optimized page designed specifically for users to “land” when they click on one of your ads or find you in search results. It differs from the home page because it is much simpler and more focused. This is a major area where A / B testing really shines, because you want your landing page to have a really high conversion rate.
For example, Shopify The main site has a lot of content, a top menu with many pages, a login button and a button to start your free trial.
But their landing page is very different. Instead, the menus are gone, the login button is gone. It is assumed that the user comes here specifically to be persuaded to start a free trial, as they would not have clicked on an ad if they were already a customer.
The only thing on this site is a minimal amount of marketing information and taglines, plus a call to action above and below the fold. Nothing else is there to distract the user, and the only way to leave this site is to click “Start Free Trial”.
There are many services on the market to help you build landing pages. Bounce, Leadpages, and Instapage all feature drag-and-drop editors as well as pre-designed templates to make it easy to build a landing page. If the tool does not have built-in A / B tests, you can still use a stand-alone analysis service to run the tests. For WordPress, there are free plugins like Elementor that allow you to create native landing plugins. For businesses, there are services like Optimized with huge analytics platforms behind their backs
How to run A / B tests
If you want to run A / B testing, you’ll want to use an analytics service to make your job easier. The easiest service to use is Google Analytics, which is completely free and supports A / B testing. You probably want Google Analytics on your site anyway, even if you don’t plan on doing a lot of testing.
Google Analytics calls the “tests” A / B tests, which you’ll find in the sidebar under Behavior. You can select the goal you want to measure (bounces, pageviews, conversion rate, purchases) and divert a percentage of the traffic to the test page (page B).
If you have to pay for a service, there are a lot of great features you can benefit from. Crazy egg has the ability to generate heat maps of your site, showing you where users are interested, which can give you insight into how you should make changes. It also has integrated A / B testing support.
Most analysis software will offer A / B testing in one way or another. You can read our analysis guides to find out more.
There are a few other areas where you can run A / B testing. Facebook allows A / B testing on ads, called split test, which can help you get what you pay for. You can test ads on different audiences, different placements, and different types of ads. OptinMonster runs A / B tests specifically on signup forms, with the goal of maximizing lead generation.