Business Blogging

A/B Testing and Why You Should not Ignore It

A website must constantly strive to remain on top in the super-competitive world of the Internet. Competition on the Internet is much faster than with traditional retailers. Websites have to respond to new developments in record time. Compounding the issues is the built-in anonymity of the Internet. Websites have no intrinsic way of knowing who their visitors are except by asking them. Statistics report country of origin, IP addresses and other information, but the information essential to website owners such as product preferences remains unavailable. Business website owners can turn to techniques that can circumvent this. A specific technique called A/B testing can help them.

What Is A/B Testing?

A/B testing is a method of showing visitors different versions (version A and version B), of a website or page so that the webmaster can measure which version is more successful at achieving a desired action. The action can be any measurable activity such as sales, clicks on adverts or newsletter sign-ups. The point of A/B testing is to increase the conversion rate of the desired activity. You can find a more detailed description of A/B testing here at Maxymiser who specialise in conversion testing.

What Is The Conversion Rate?

The conversion rate is the most important metric for any website owner to track. Fortunately, this rate is easily calculable. All it takes is dividing the number of visitors by the number of customers. The resulting percentage rate is powerful because it is a crystal clear indicator of the website’s effectiveness. A low conversion rate can spell doom for even established websites because so few visitors are becoming customers. Websites with low conversion rates will soon be pushed out of the market by websites with high conversion rates. A high conversion rate translates into consistent profit levels even if Internet traffic constantly rises and falls.

How A/B Testing Raises The Conversion Rate

The technique of A/B testing, also known as split testing, is quite simple. A web page consists of various elements arranged in a certain way. These components are colors, images, themes, layouts, headers, textual content, footers and specific pieces of information like prices, call-to-action buttons and product descriptions. A/B testing takes a single item on a web page and changes it, perhaps changing the color of the item to red or making the item larger or smaller. The changed version and the original version are then both shown to an equal number of visitors. The version that yields the higher conversion rate wins.

It may seem surprising what specific changes result in a higher conversion rate. With A/B testing, it is critical for the website owner to avoid letting his personal feelings and tastes override the results. His visitors’ opinions matter more than his; the customer is always right. A higher conversion rate is the concrete result of tailoring the website according to his visitor’s preferences. Using A/B testing results in greater profits for the website and the ability to expand advertising efforts through SEO, gaining market share to boot.

Caveats And Complaints

How an A/B test is structured can play a huge role in obtaining accurate results. When testing a page-wide element, such as a theme or layout, the test will work better if the website owner redirects the visitor to an alternate page. Otherwise the different codes could interfere with one another, creating unintended graphic snafus. Conversely, a single element on a page can be changed as the page is loading because there is little risk of code interference.

A/B testing has received plenty of complaints that the opportunity cost of running a test on seemingly trivial items exceeds whatever return on investment may be gained. The naysayers have it exactly backwards. The opportunity cost is the time it takes to create the test. Once the test is running, the website owner merely has to wait for statistically significant results to be produced. This represents a phenomenal return on investment from such a small opportunity cost to set up the test.

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By Paul Jones

Paul is writer and he writes for Maxymiser.

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