This is perhaps the simplest idea in the world, and in the world of marketing. If you’re reading this you are almost already thinking ‘Why is this guy telling us something so obvious?’ to which I reply ‘Then why are you reading this?’ But for the uninformed among us, here is what A/B testing is, and some practical usages in my world.
Imagine you go to an ice cream parlour and you decide to choose chocolate and not vanilla. Let’s say that 60% of people are just like you, and choose chocolate. Then, a week later, you visit the same gelateria, and now you are offered chocolate and pistachio, and you and 80% of people who visit in week two choose pistachio! Madness! Imagine you never gave them the choice between those two! Crazy.
Well, not that crazy because almost no-one lives in that kind of world – and I kind of wish we did, as all the choice nowadays is overwhelming – but essentially, this ice cream place can test to see what is the most popular flavour of ice-cream in this overly simplified experiment. Bear in mind, perhaps someone going every week would want something different to last week because they get bored of the same flavour. But, away from gelato and on to basic marketing.
My first foray into split testing (aka A/B testing) was in the world of Google Ads. My first campaign was for my own brand (Baithe Photography, the place my whole SEO journey began) and I would test two ads beside each other. So both would have three headlines of up to 30 characters each, and two descriptions of up to 90 characters each. I’d keep everything the same except perhaps the first headline. So perhaps one says ‘Real Estate Photography Expert’ and the other ‘Property Photography Expert’. Then, you let them both run as ads, Google handles showing alternate people one or the other and a month later you check in and see which had more success.
Business decision? Keep the one that worked better, pause or remove the worse one, and then duplicate the successful one again, and this time tweak it a little in another way. Perhaps include a benefit ‘24hrs turnaround or your money back!’ or whatever. The concept should be in your mind now, I hope?
Moving to other things, you can now do this test in a hundred other ways. On your website, say on the “Buy now” page or contact or service page – whichever place you are trying to convert folk, your CTA (Call to Action) button is blue. Well, try duplicate that page but this time have a yellow button. Again, try it again but with a different size CTA, or different text in it. I am sure you can imagine that the more tests you do, the more you learn. Just be careful to not succumb to a confounding of variables – where you change five things and are not sure what worked or not. Do one at a time, and keep iterating.
For how long, you may ask? Well, forever. But more realistically, to a point at which you are happy. I got some of my ad groups within the Baithe Google Ads campaign to a point where they were achieving a 15% CTR, with really cheap clicks (R0.50) and decent conversions, and high quality score (9 or 10/10). That may all be meaningless to you but it was a 1-2 two year process that once achieved was incredibly rewarding!
Back to you, and your application. Find out from your developer, or the folk who manage your Google Ads, Facebook Ads, LinkedIn et al just what A/B testing they can do, and if they have proven results. For my clients I report on their progress (on a macro level) each month and the goal is to improve each and every month on as many metrics as possible. So, if their cost to run Ads comes down just 1% in a month, it’s not really that significant but… if their CTR improves 1%, their conversion rate 1%, sales, time on the site, and 20 other things you need to realise that combined it is a powerful amount of progress. Then multiply that over 12 months, and add the power of exponential growth/compound interest type of maths and you see radical change.
So, that was a long article on a simple concept. Something that can be explained in a sentence and if you’ve read this far the point was to show you some basic ways it can apply to your digital marketing.