Have you ever launched a marketing campaign, only to find that it's not getting the results that you expected? Or heard rumors of amazing double-digit response rates to a specific landing page or email—after the campaign was mysteriously "optimized"? While every marketer chases an amazing ROI for their product or service, only a few can fine-tune their campaigns using advanced tools that provide accurate A/B tests, which allow you to reduce waste in your marketing budget and focus on the tactics that produce measurable results. While some of these advanced testing models can prove to be more than marketers can handle without extensive support from external partners or their IT departments, there are simple and affordable options that allow accurate testing of the effectiveness of specific marketing tactics.
What is A/B Testing?
Marketing is all about the data: how many people viewed or clicked a specific link, whether your ad was shown to the full audience on social media, conversion rates for landing pages, and more. At its most basic, A/B testing—also known as split testing—provides a way to determine which of two versions performs more effectively to pre-selected goals.
To truly understand the power of A/B testing, it's important to know that this is not a new concept. In fact, it's over 100 years old with its origin traced back to 1920s statistician and biologist Ronald Fisher and is the basis for testing scientific principles since that time. The type of A/B testing that is familiar to modern marketers became more prevalent in the 1990s when widespread use of the internet allowed the practice to be performed in real-time and with a greatly enhanced scale, both in terms of experiment quantity and participants.
Benefits of A/B Testing
There are dozens of elements in any one marketing campaign: the audience, the headline, body text, call to action, button color, size, or location—and any one of these elements can be optimized. Marketers realized that instead of creating one version of an ad based on their best guess for engagement, A/B testing allowed a way to create two versions of a specific advertisement or message and determine which provided the greater results. Some of the key benefits of using A/B testing include:
- Increased time visitors spend on a specific website page
- Reduced page bounce rates (when visitors come to a specific page and then immediately leave without navigating to additional pages or engaging with the page)
- Enhanced page engagement with the page
- Boosted effectiveness of headlines or body content
- Lift in conversions
- Encouraging more customers to complete their shopping transaction
- Reducing the overall risk of your marketing efforts by shifting away from ineffective tactics
The key challenge with A/B testing is selecting a single element for optimization at a time, a rigor that can be particularly difficult for fast-moving digital marketers.
Why You Should Select One Element to Test and Optimize
Optimizing the digital experience on your website requires a great deal of focus on a very small scale, targeting a single element to tweak at a time. One tool that can be vital in helping identify which element to use in your A/B testing would be a heat map, as you can quickly see where people are hovering or spending time within your page. There are many options for A/B testing within your site, and making only a small change could mean a big difference in your sales or conversions.
Unfortunately, some marketers become overly excited about their testing and make multiple changes within an ad or don't select a measurable goal for improvement, which can make the outcome of split testing difficult to determine. This is testing on a micro-scale with a very specific goal in mind, so the tweaks you make should be on individual elements such as the color of your call-to-action button, changing of a specific image, headline A versus headline B, or the positioning of the CTA button on the page.
Creating these tests is often one of the greatest technical challenges, but some CMS platforms have made it more approachable by incorporating A/B testing tools directly within the CMS platform.
Executing A/B Testing Within Specific CMS Tools
There are a plethora of tools that marketers can add to their current website platform for A/B testing, but why not stick within your current website infrastructure? Content management system (CMS) tools such as Sitefinity provide an A/B testing workflow that allows marketers to define their goals, develop a hypothesis, select specific pages for testing and then quickly measure and analyze the results. By having all of the A/B testing available in one central location, Sitefinity is a CMS that has made it easy for marketers to optimize multiple pages and then immediately deploy the winning option. Plus, you're able to deliver specific pages to unique audience segments based on the information stored within your CMS.
Tests are created based on the focus and goal of your testing, using statistical methods to determine which of two versions of your content are optimized to best meet both business and marketing goals.
When you are performing A/B tests, it's critical that you also review the statistical significance of the test, with sample size having a large bearing on whether the results are appreciably different. Tests should be timed to allow enough site visitors to evaluate the content. Fortunately, Sitefinity and other CMS platforms include options to build deployments of the "winner" of testing only after statistical significance has been determined. In rare cases, there is little difference between two versions of the same content. In this case, marketers may need to select different goals or portions of the content for testing.
Does Your CMS Need Fine-Tuning?
Optimizing your CMS itself can make a significant difference in the overall effectiveness of your marketing campaigns. If you're struggling to get your CMS ready for this type of advanced testing or are having difficulties with your Sitefinity websites contact the professionals at InGen or get your free site assessment.
We work exclusively with Sitefinity, providing superior programming services—solving complex technical challenges for our clients. Our user-centered software development standards are designed to help marketers improve their ROI and reduce gridlock within teams, so you can get true value from your Sitefinity website.