Comprehensive Guide on A/B Testing for Beginners
Published on November 6th, 2023
13 min read
Published on November 6th, 2023
13 min read
A/B testing, or split testing, is a research technique widely used in marketing, web development, and user experience (UX) fields. This method involves comparing two versions of an element, such as a web page or advertisement, to determine which performs better regarding desired outcomes.
Within the framework of A/B testing, researchers designate these versions as “A,” “B,” “C,” and so forth. These variants are then simultaneously tested among similar audiences, allowing researchers to assess their effectiveness and influence on user behavior.
A/B testing empowers marketers, designers, and developers to make informed decisions backed by data, improving awareness, click-through rates, and conversions. Conducting A/B tests on entire web pages or specific components like images and layouts is possible.
This technique finds applications in various areas, including:
Imagine this scenario: You’ve developed an email marketing campaign to spark interest in a new line of products.
For the initial message, you’ve devised two distinct subject lines labeled version A and version B.
From a sizable email list of 5,000 individuals, you’ve selected a representative sample of 500 recipients.
Out of this group, you’ve directed version A of the subject line to 250 individuals, while the remaining 250 individuals receive version B.
Upon completing the test, the collected data revealed that 68 recipients opened the email featuring version B, whereas only 37 engaged with version A.
Based on this outcome, you deduce that version B holds more significant potential for capturing your audience’s attention, prompting you to adopt it for the broader campaign.
In this process, you’ve effectively executed an A/B test.
A/B testing eliminates the uncertainties tied to marketing campaigns, changes to websites, and the optimization of conversion rates (CRO).
A/B Testing helps you to:
However, you only get these results in the case of well-executed A/B tests. An accurate implementation could result in saving time and opportunities for generating sales.
Utilizing A/B testing enables you to fine-tune a range of factors, from the intricate components of your website layout to the attention-grabbing points in your email subject lines.
Below are some of the most important tests that you should consider conducting.
Having a compelling Call to Action (CTA) can be the difference between someone taking action, like purchasing your product or subscribing to your email newsletter, and them going to your competitors.
A/B testing allows you to experiment with different aspects of your CTAs, such as:
The main aim of a CTA is to encourage action, usually leading to a conversion. You can measure the impact of any changes you make using these two metrics:
You’ll often encounter CTAs at the bottom of products and other landing pages. You can also test CTAs in search engine ads, social media ads, and marketing emails.
The headline is the first thing that catches your visitors’ eyes when they land on your webpage. Whether it is grabbing attention or not determines whether they stay or move on. That’s why it’s a prime candidate for A/B testing.
For best results, keep these pointers in mind when crafting your headlines:
Give A/B testing a shot by experimenting with different versions of your headlines. Play around with various styles like fonts, sizes, colors, and different word choices and messaging.
If you’re working on your website content, you can use the following metrics to measure the impact of your changes:
You can find all these content marketing metrics and more using Google Analytics.
Think of the subject line as the headline of your email—it’s the thing that decides if people will open your message.
Believe it or not, even tiny changes can affect how many folks actually open your email. So, don’t just go with the first subject line that pops into your head. Instead, jot down about 10 or more ideas. After that, put your top contenders to the test with some A/B testing. Send them out to smaller groups and see which one performs best.
A good subject line should grab the attention and curiosity of folks reading their emails. But remember, it needs to stand out without leading readers astray. So, focus on the main benefit of your email and talk to your audience in a way that makes sense to them—use their language and a tone that clicks.
Let’s review some smart approaches for crafting email subject lines:
Now, why does this all matter? In nearly every scenario, your subject line’s main job is to grab attention and get people to open your email. So, when you’re comparing different versions of a subject line in an A/B test, you can choose the one that scores the highest open rate.
Want to make it super easy for your users to convert? Just make sure the stuff they want and need is front and center.
You might have two pages with the same info. But if one looks messy or focuses on the less important stuff, it will be less attractive to visitors.
For example, the homepage of Autosoft DMS, one of our clients, opens with a short, snappy, interactive illustration to create intrigue. About 90% of the people in the US are right-handed. That’s why the form is on the right side of the page.
Clicking on the watch video button on the left-hand side of the web page will open a window with a short one-minute product trailer. And as countless marketing studies have shown, videos help visitors convert better than just having text; this is a great strategy.
However, everything we have discussed so far about these web pages is subject to A/B testing, from the headline to the positioning of CTAs to the text on those CTAs. Maybe two CTAs are too much for the users, and maybe the video should play automatically in the background. You will never know unless you implement and test.
Right after this section, there are screenshots of what the product looks like from the inside. Since B2B SaaS tools have a higher ticket pricing than B2C, showing product screenshots reassures buyers of the quality of the product.
The headline, the screenshots used, and the CTAs are subject to A/B testing. PS: The website’s current layout was finalized after thorough A/B testing already.
When your page is all jumbled up and not making sense, you’ll likely see:
If you’ve got a designer on your team, they’ll have the scoop on how to arrange things in a good way. But if not, think about what your users really want. That way, you can put the coolest and most helpful stuff right where they can find it easily.
Ready to give A/B testing a shot? Follow this step-by-step guide to run a basic A/B test in seven straightforward steps:
Remember, even if your hypothesis doesn’t hold up, every result teaches something new. Use these learnings to come up with fresh testing ideas.
Pushkar is a Digital Marketing Manager and leads SEO Research at FirstPrinciples Growth Advisory. He has over 12 years of experience in Search Engine Optimization for European, American, and Indian markets, both from the agency and as in-house marketing support.
Over these years, he has helped startups and multinational companies (Finance, NBFC, SaaS, Home Improvement, Health, and Software) grow their organic search visibility & achieve their SEO goals.
He is an innovative, cross-functional marketing leader with a track record of planning and managing exceptional marketing campaigns yielding positive returns.