If you’re reading this because your boss asked you to A/B test two versions of your company’s website and you have no clue what to do, it’s okay. Read on. Help is on the way.
Here goes. The first step is not to be daunted by the term itself. A/B testing, also often called bucket testing or split testing, is merely marketing jargon for testing one thing against another. In this case, we’re talking websites. However, A/B testing is also often used to weed out the best email marketing campaigns, ecommerce checkout pages and many other digital business entities and initiatives.
Secondly, take heart knowing that you’re not alone. You can bet someone somewhere at Google, Netflix, Facebook or Amazon -- or, insert any other household-name Internet business or publisher here -- is live A/B testing this or that URL on unsuspecting users right now.
Great, but what’s the point? It’s simple: comparing two different variants of your website reveals which one resonates better with your target audience. When done right, it can potentially boost your level of customer engagement, conversion rate and, ultimately, your bottom line. Additionally, you can use A/B testing to improve the effectiveness of specific elements of your website, including search ads, calls-to-action, promotions and more.
When split-testing, typically website A is the control and is already live. Website B is the variable. Website A has the features you’re looking to make better, while website B puts forth new, alternative elements that you want to test. Once B is launched, you then divide your live traffic into two groups of test subjects, separately funneling them to the two website versions. From there, you dig into the data you collect along the way to gauge which website performs better overall. What’s working? What’s not? What stays? What goes? Soon you’ll know.
For everything you need to build, execute and glean valuable insights from a successful A/B test, take a look at the six basic steps laid out in the infographic below. The helpful visualization comes to us by way of VWO, an India-based provider of A/B testing software for online marketers.