A/B testing is when you run two different versions of something, such as a Facebook ad or a landing page, with subtle variations to see which one performs better. I’ve often described it as being like a visit to the eye doctor who puts that large, monstrous looking thingy over your eyes (it’s called a phoropter) and asks, “Better? Worse?” every time he changes the settings. You slowly come to determine what your optimal lens prescription will be. Large retailers with high-traffic e-commerce sites have full-time employees and software systems to continually run A/B tests on almost every aspect of their online presence. You as a small business owner, though, can run meaningful tests on just about any component of your campaign using more mundane methods. Let’s look at some effective things to test:
Before getting started, decide what you’re testing and what you’re testing for. In other words, if you’re testing a Facebook ad, decide if you’re testing the headline, the body or the image. Then decide if you’re testing for a higher click-through rate (CTR), more page Likes, or lower cost-per-thousand (CPM) price. Be sure to test only one element at a time, such as the headline. Once you find the most effective headline, you can run A/B tests to find the most effective ad body and image.
A landing page is a place on your website that’s not necessarily discoverable by the general public where you direct specific traffic from online ads or external links to prove the efficacy of those sources. Let’s say you’re selling tickets to an event (concert, play, etc.) and you’re running an identically worded ad on different channels such as Facebook and Google. Now you might be thinking that running the same ad on two different channels is already its own A/B test, and you wouldn’t necessarily be wrong. However, the point of running such a test is to abandon the lower performing option. If you don’t intend to abandon one of the channels it’s really not an A/B test.
If you’re on such a tight budget that you do intend to abandon the under-performing channel, build two identical landing pages and assign each to a different media channel. After you’ve determined whether Google or Facebook provides the best results, run an A/B test on different elements of the surviving landing page to find out which graphics, calls-to-action, headlines and layouts work best. The way you would achieve this is by creating the exact same ad on Facebook but with two different click-through links. Again, test only one element at a time. For instance, test the call-to-action first. Build one landing page with a call-to-action that says “Buy now” and one that says “Order Your Tickets Before It’s Too Late”. It often doesn’t take long to determine which version is better. Even a few hours can sometimes weed out the weaker choice.
You can test the wording, layout and artwork of your email campaigns by segmenting your mailing list. Just make sure your overall list, as well as the divided segments, are large enough to provide you with a statistically significant sample size. Good things to test are subject lines, internal headlines, number of articles and calls-to-action.
If you have something you’d like test, but aren’t sure how, drop me a line. We’ll figure it out together.