How to Get Started with A/B Testing for WordPress

 Your website is doing well, attracting hundreds maybe even thousands of visitors. That’s great but the beauty of a website is that there’s always room for improvement optimization and growth. The thing is knowing where to optimize is not so easy. Your social media expert wants you to cover your homepage in social widgets, your sales team insists you need more product showcases linking directly to the shopping cart while your graphic designer want both and pushes you towards a cleaner more minimalistic design. Who’s right? None of them. The true expert in deciding how to optimize your website for greater success and business growth is your website visitors. To get a clear idea of what they love best you need A/B testing. This testing allows you to question your long-held assumptions and put real data into results-driven action. 

What is A/B Testing?

The concept is really simple. When you’re doing features for a website you’re always making assumptions and guesses as to what will work for your users but there’s also a way of testing out your new feature versus the old one by making an A/B test out of them. So you basically show your variation to fifty percent of the users and the other fifty percent will get the original one and you have this test running until you have enough data and then you can analyze that and see which one actually performs better during that time. Check out top A/B Tools for testing your website.

Check out top A/B Tools for testing your website.

How Does A/B Testing Work?

The first thing to do when planning an A/B test is to figure out what you want to test. Are you running an on-site test or an off-site test? If you’re running an on-site test, you’ll want to think of all the sales-related pieces of your website, and then figure out which elements you want to test.

With off-site tests, you’re probably testing either an ad or a sales email. Testing ad copy to see which ad brings in more converting visitors can help you focus your advertising efforts. Once you know your ad is converting as well as possible, it’s easier to justify spending more money on it. The same goes for emails. If you send out two versions to your list (randomly selecting which half gets which email), and then track which one converts better, you can send only that version the next time.

Once you know what you’ll test, make a list of all the variables you’ll test. For example, if you’ve decided to test your call to action, you might test:

  • the location of the call to action
  • the exact text used
  • the button color or surrounding space

It’s a process, and it’s common for multiple A/B tests to be carried out prior to making a final decision or final change.

Make sure that before you start testing you have a clear idea of the results you’re looking for. You should already know your baseline result, which is the results you’re currently getting. You want to test option A and B against each other, but you also want to know that whichever one does better in the test is also doing better than your current results. Alternatively, you can use A as your control (leaving it whatever you’re currently using) and then use something new for B.

Tests need to be run simultaneously to account for any variations in timing. You can’t test one variation today and the other one tomorrow, because you can’t factor in any variables that might have changed between today and tomorrow. Instead, you need to split the traffic seeing your variations at the same time.

Things to Test

You can test virtually anything in your marketing materials: headlines, calls to action, body copy, images, etc. If you can change it, you can test it. But that doesn’t mean you should necessarily spend months testing every little thing. Instead, focus on the things that are most likely to have a big impact.

On your website, this likely includes:

  • the headline
  • your call to action
  • any graphic you use in direct correlation to your sales efforts
  • the sales copy or product descriptions

In an email, it probably includes the same. In an ad, especially a text ad (like a search ad), you have fewer things to change, and so likely you’ll test either the main headline or the offer itself.

Testing different offers is also important. Just make sure that you have methods in place to ensure that each person is always offered the same promotion. For example, if a free gift is offered to group A, and a discount is offered to group B, then you want to make sure that group A always contains the same visitors, as does group B.

You can also test things in conjunction with each other. For example, you might want to test newsletter A with landing page A, and newsletter B with landing page B. And then, later, you may want to test newsletter A with landing page B, and vice versa. This can give you a more concrete result if you’re getting mixed results, or if your results are very close.

sarah ali

sarah ali

Sarah is a passionate writer and blogger. As an early adopter, she enjoys trying out new social media and Internet tools along with WordPress plugins and Web apps.
sarah ali

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