What is A/B Testing?
If there is something that has grabbed the entire imagination of the various business organizations at large, it can be none other than this A/B testing. It is the practice of making comparison between two different variations (Variation A and Variation B) of a web page and then making evaluation based on the conversion rates that have arrived on both of these web page versions. A/B testing is also sometimes known as split testing as the given web page is here split (broken) into two different versions for the purpose of comparison and evaluation based on the conversion rates.In A/B testing, two different web page versions are tested over a period of time and depending upon the count of conversion rates, winner web page is decided. This process has gained significant acceptance in the entire online business community as it has the potential to influence the conversion rates of your business organization to a great extent. Moreover, it help business organizations in taking calculated business risks and thus avoid them heavy losses in case the testing results backfire. By directing the amount of traffic on your two different versions namely, control page and the variation page, business organizations are thus prepared in a better way to handle any unexpected results during the entire A/B testing process. Further, in order to improve your understanding about this topic, here are some of the common terminologies related to the A/B testing process.
- Control page- It refers to the original web page that is without any changes.
- Variation page- It refers to the web page on which user has made the desired changes for comparison with the original page. This variation page is also known as treatment page or the controller page.
- Winner page- It is that web page which wins the A/B testing results based on the maximum conversions that is achieved by it over the scheduled test duration.
- Hypothesis- It refers to the assumptions that are considered while implementing A/B testing process. Assumptions may be like the test will improve product sales, it will make more number of people to sign in on your page or any other such claims.
- Testing elements- They are those site elements that are chosen for implementing A/B testing process. It can be headlines, banner ads, images, call- to- action (CTA) buttons, web forms or any other such site elements.
- KPIs- It is known as the key performance indices that are important for the growth and progress of a business organization. These can be conversion rates, site traffic, product sales, customer engagement or any other such parameters.
Why should you perform A/B test?
Due to increasing competition in the online business environment and the necessity to improve conversion rates, A/B testing has become as the inevitable part of the various online business organizations. It has provided opportunity to various business organizations to make significant changes in their conversion rates, site traffic, customer engagement, product sales and other such areas by testing the usability and conversion ability of various website elements. Here are the various reasons that support the importance of A/B testing for your business organization.
- It helps in improving the usability of your site and its elements- By performing A/B testing on various elements of your website, you can check the usability of your website for the accomplishment of your long term goals like conversion rates, site traffic, product sales and other such factors. Further, it will help you understand whether your site elements like images, call- to- action buttons, banner ads, headlines and other such components are actually playing their part well in the conversion rates or not.
- It provides a vision to improve your user engagement, site traffic and conversion rates- Once, you are aware of the fact that what is working for your website and what is not, you can easily take the charge ahead for getting your customers involved. In order to improve your customer engagement, you need to perform A/B testing on the various site elements so as to get back your customer’s interest and attention for improving your conversion rates. If you can entice your customer with your website design, navigation and usability, you can easily improve the site traffic for your business organization.
- It provides opportunity to business organizations to take calculated risks- Due to the facility of diverting the site traffic into desired ratio, it is now possible for the business organizations to undertake proposed web changes on a website in an efficient and conversion friendly manner without hurting the entire growth opportunities. This is a wonderful aspect of A/B testing as it helps you to put your business interests in the best possible way by taking calculated risks in the case the results may backfire.
Besides these factors, there are several other reasons that have made A/B testing really important for business organization in this cut throat competitive online business environment. It has made such a tremendous impact in the overall business scenario of various organizations that it is now heavily relied upon by numerous business organizations to tweak even minor changes in their website.
Elements that can be A/B tested
Testing anything without understanding its importance and worth in your conversion rates will be a sheer wastage of time, money and efforts as you need to take the right aim to hit the bulls eye. Don’t just test anything that may come out as truly unimportant, unfeasible and less conversion friendly in the long run of your business organization. Sit down with your team members and make a list of all those elements that are actually making an impact on your product sales and conversion rates so as to decide which one of those elements deserve the highest priority and precedence while performing A/B testing for your website. If you are not clear in your idea about what all can be tested, you need to take a look at all these website elements that can be used for A/B testing.
- Call- to- action buttons and call- to- action statements
- Landing page
- Web forms like sign up page, checkout page and newsletter subscription page.
- Images and videos
- Headlines and sub headings
- Position, placement and content of the paragraph text
- Directional links
- Position of the content below or above the fold
- Social Proof and user generated content like ratings, testimonials, customer reviews and such other data.
- Awards, badges and security seals
- Banner ads
- Contact information
- Offers, pricing information and promotional schemes
- Font size, style and CSS elements
These are some of the elements that are actively used by numerous business organizations of the world for A/B testing purposes so as to get huge improvement in their conversion rates and product sales. Apart from these elements, some of the other elements that can be tested in the process of A/B testing are mentioned in this infographic.
With time and constant evolution, the scope and use of A/B testing is continuously enhancing and is sure to touch new areas in the coming years. So, just test, test and test in order to keep improving and surprise your targeted customers.
Importance of A/B testing in SEO
As, the online business competition is heating up, various business organizations are sceptical about the impact of A/B testing on the search engine optimization (SEO) efforts. This is a very crucial question that is bothering so much business organizations of the world for a long time as no organization would like to risk their online search rankings in return of an appealing website design. In order to improve your online search rankings while performing A/B testing, you need to take care of following tips.Use only 302 redirects and not 301 redirects-
Make use of 302 (temporary) redirects instead of 301 (permanent) redirects while directing web crawlers or internet bots to the temporary A/B testing URLs. This is because it will provide information to the search engine robots that the redirected A/B testing URLs are temporary in nature and will not be available in the long run. It will prevent the web crawlers from indexing that URL and will bring the focus back onto your existing URL.
Avoid the use of cloaking- Don’t fall into the trap of showing a different web page to your targeted customers and an entirely different web version to the web spiders as this results in the infringement of the Google Webmaster Guidelines. Sometimes, it happens with the numerous business organizations that are using A/B testing as they fail to use a temporary 302 redirect for their A/B testing page which cause Internet robots to index your A/B testing URL also that ultimately causes a mismatch between what is being shown to your targeted users and what is being shown to the search engine bots. So, avoid the use of cloaking so as to prevent your website from getting penalized by various search engines that could drastically affect your online search rankings and conversion rates.
Make use of relational canonical tags as and when necessary- In order to make search engine aware about your testing web pages, you need to use relational canonical tags so that these testing pages are not indexed. This will help in the effective utilization of the duplicate content on the web that has the potential to affect your ultimate rankings and URL indexing.
Don’t run your A/B tests for too long- Running your A/B tests for more than 2-3 months continuously can direct Google to ask the site owners to delete all other web pages that are related to your test variation. If this happens, it can be crucial to your website rankings and future business prospects so run your A/B tests for a legitimate amount of time only so that you can take the decision on your own rather than forwarding the decision making power to the search engines like Google.
Thus, by practising the above steps, business organizations can easily overcome the concern of negative effects of A/B testing on their website rankings. This is truly a win- win situation in all respects as you can now improve your website rankings as well as improve your user engagement and conversion rates without any hiccups.
The process of A/B testing
Doing A/B testing is not some rocket science and can be effortlessly accomplished by any user who has a working knowledge about how to handle computers. Due to this ease of implementation, it does not require any professional skill or expertise to accomplish A/B testing process. Further, in order to help you understand better about the various processes involved in the A/B testing, you need to pay attention towards the following steps.
Raise legitimate questions before implementing A/B testing-
Once, you have made up your mind about implementing A/B testing on your website, you need to ask legitimate questions to yourself like what is the purpose of A/B testing, what elements are being targeted for A/B testing, what is the entire duration of the A/B testing process and other such queries. If you have the answers to each and every question described above, it means that you are heading in the right direction.
Perform proper background research about your website and its elements before implementing A/B testing-
It is important to perform a complete background research on your website and its elements so as to understand which elements are getting high customer attention and site traffic so as to perform A/B testing. No business organization would love to spend their time, money and efforts on some site elements that are getting very low customer attention and have a negligible contribution in your conversion rates. You can take the help of various web analytics tools like Mocking Fish that can help in tracking your visitors onsite behavior and activity so as to provide you information about the elements with most customer traffic that can be used for A/B testing process.Create a hypothesis for your A/B testing process-
Remember, to create a necessary hypothesis for your A/B testing process like “Making changes in the call- to- action buttons will increase conversion rates”, “Easy sign up forms will lead to increase number of registrations for sign up process” or any other claims. It will further provide the required goal to your A/B testing process so as to decide its success or failure rate.
Implement A/B testing process to test your hypothesis- In order to check the legitimacy and effectiveness of the testing hypothesis, you need to perform A/B testing on the required control page and the variation page so as to check if your assumptions are right or wrong. It will help you in deciding the legitimacy of your hypothesis in context of your business organization.
Compare your testing data and reach out to inferences- By testing your control (original) web page and the variation (web page with changes), business organizations can easily infer which is the winner page based on the conversion rates. With this careful analysis and comparison, there is a higher probability that your desired test goals are accomplished by your A/B testing results.
So, by following these simple steps, it would definitely be a cakewalk to implement A/B testing on your website elements. With such a simple user friendly interface, business organizations can implement A/B testing without any external help.
Your First A/B test Once, you have completed all the required formalities for installing our Mocking Fish A/B testing tool, you are now ready to create your own A/B testing experiment. Our user friendly dashboard design has made it easier for our customers to perform A/B testing through our Mocking Fish tool. Just, follow these steps and you can create your own set of A/B testing experiment for your desired website.
Creation of A/B testing experiment-
In order to get going with our Mocking Fish tool, you need to first create a A/B test experiment. For starting A/B testing for your website, you just need to add the URL on which you need to perform A/B testing. Here is the screen shot window that can guide you through the process of A/B testing experiment creation.
Make desired changes-
After the creation of your A/B testing experiment, it is time to make some desired changes in your website by loading your website in the editor of our Mocking Fish tool. All this task can be easily accomplished without any trouble due to the user friendly interface of our A/B testing tool. Here is the screen shot of the same process that can show you how desired changes can be made to your website.
For our advanced users, we have provided the added functionality for making desired changes in the CSS elements and JS code of their website. Take a look at the screen shot that can guide you in the above mentioned process.
Selection of the targeted audience-
After making desired advanced changes in your experiment, users have the privilege to select the group of users on various browsers that will have the access to your A/B testing changes without affecting your entire set of audiences. Here is the screen shot view of about how to select your targeted audience for A/B testing.
Set goals for your A/B testing experiment-
There needs to be a well defined purpose for every A/B testing experiment so that you can easily analyze if your targeted goals are fulfilled or not. The goals for your website can be increase in your conversion rates, surge in your product sales, higher sign ups on your web forms, more clicks on your call- to- action (CTA) buttons or any other such goals. Here, in this screen shot, it is shown how goals can be created for your A/B testing experiment.
Track and analyze your A/B test-After the effective setting of the A/B testing goals for your website, it is important to constantly track and analyze your A/B tests so as to understand if desired targets are achieved or not. Further, it will help you in diagnosing if your A/B test results are heading in the right direction or not.