Apples and Oranges: How to Understand and Implement A/B Testing

Apples and OrangeA/B test until your content is perfect, and then test some more for best results.

Marketing is inherently an adaptation of give and take communication. Marketers present consumers with campaigns and content in hopes of strong conversions, and every new marketing campaign is an opportunity to re-focus your efforts for greater returns. A/B testing is an important aspect of nearly every element of your brand, and it’s crucial to understand the benefits that thorough, goal-oriented A/B testing can have on business.

From click-throughs to conversions, marketing success isn’t something that happens by accident. Whether it’s through website content, e-mail marketing, or creative campaigns, smart marketers take advantage of A/B testing to ensure success wherever possible.

What is A/B Testing?

A/B testing is the process of comparing on-site elements and strategies to refine your marketing outreach. You may be most familiar with A/B testing as it applies to e-mail marketing, but it’s time to broaden your understanding of the concept so you can implement its principles across the board.

The most engaging and successful elements of your business are those that you and your team have researched developed. As with e-mail marketing A/B testing, it’s important to compare, contrast, deconstruct, rebuild, and reassess every aspect of your brand against goal-oriented alternatives. What works best and why? should be your mantra as a marketer, and no element is too small to inspect through the A/B testing microscope.

Where to Focus Your A/B Testing Efforts 

Don’t let the process of thorough A/B testing steer you away from an objective point of view when it comes to campaign changes. It’s easy to choose your personal favorite option, but smart marketers learn to filter personal bias out of important marketing decisions. Instead, approach each element of a new campaign as prime real estate for your best online marketing tactics.

Some of the most commonly tested site and campaign elements for A/B tests are improved exponentially when you inject some creative retargeting and marketing know-how into the mix. No campaign or content blueprint is one-size-fits-all, so consider the following elements when you’re A/B testing.

  • Headlines: Regardless of the content, headlines can make or break consumer momentum. Most consumers scan for important information, and your headline (either as an article title or a product name) is usually the first stop in a buyer’s journey. Word choice and intention is crucial.
  • Subject Lines: Just like headlines, subject lines (for e-mail marketing campaigns) are often the first thing consumers see when your message hits their inbox. Is it paint-by-numbers or does it wow? Your subject line needs to be strong and succinct in order to reel in readers and prompt them to open your message.
  • Visual content: With a screen in every pocket, visual content is staking a claim to marketing real estate everywhere. Are you using boring stock images or does your visual content pop off the page? For any given campaign, remember the mantra What works best and why? and test your image and video elements accordingly.
  • Calls to action: Calls to action are the last line of defence and often the final inbound marketing impression you present before consumers dive into your sales funnel. Be direct but inviting with your call to action, compel consumers to convert, and leave no room for confusion as to what should be done next. Tell readers exactly what you want them to do and how to do it.
  • Above-the-fold content: Traditionally, above-the-fold content is anything a viewer can see on-page without having to scroll down for more. Are your attractive campaign images, important calls to action, and vital content snippets buried somewhere below the fold? It’s time to make a change, and A/B testing can help improve landing page optimization of above-the-fold content.

Never Stop Testing to Make the Most of A/B Adaptation

How you measure and perform subjective A/B tests needs to be defined by your goals and desired outcomes. Changes should be fuelled by strong strategy, sufficient data, and intentionality. Do you want more visitors? Is increasing sales your focus? Do you want to improve sharing and viral outreach? What works best and why? A/B testing is a multi-faceted process that strengthens your marketing strategy over time.

That said, little changes can have a big, immediate impact. One word can make all the difference sometimes. Never stop testing. Lessons you learn from early A/B testing can be utilized in future campaigns, and a strong sales funnel can be constructed as on-site changes are implemented and elements altered. The biggest mistake is assuming you’ve reached perfection and that your A/B testing days are over.

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