Split testing is a method of testing two or more variations of an element on a web page to determine which one performs best and drives more conversions. Conversions can be more leads, enquires or sales. Or they can be smaller actions like reading another blog article, leaving a comment. In fact, any action taken by your visitor can be thought of as a conversion. The variant that increases the conversion rate the most is called the winner.
Split testing can also be defined as a/b testing or ab split testing where the variants are called a and b, although split testing is not limited to just two variants, as long as you have the traffic, you can have as many variants as you like. Split testing is one of the stages of a conversion rate optimisation strategy, this is where you identify, plan and execute your split tests.
Why do a/b split testing?
It increases conversion rates. If you use your website for lead generation or sales, then conversion rates should be very important to you and you should take regular action to measure and improve your conversion rates. Split testing is a sure way to increase conversions on your website. Due the process being an execution of logic experiments, it is only a matter of time before you find specific webpage changes that increase conversion rates.
It removes guess work from website improvements. Without split testing, website changes are made using guess work. A well thought out and executed split testing campaign is built on data and so removes any guess work. This means there is a greater of chance of success.
How does a/b split testing work?
Website visitors are shown either variant a or b at random. The actions they take after they have seen that variant are then measured. e.g they may make a purchase or they may read another blog post.
What can you split test?
You can split test anything that appears as an element on your webpage. e.g you can split test content, including headlines, sections of content or call to action text.
You can split test prices.
You can split test design elements such as colours and text sizes.
You can split test the order of elements, e.g the position of a call to action.
Even though it is possible to split test pretty much anything, any test must always be thought out thoroughly. You want to know why you are testing an element and what results you hope to get. Testing randomly is not the way to increase your conversion rate. You won’t learn anything about your audience and future tests will keep failing because you are effectively stabbing around in the dark until something works.
Split testing paid ads
It is essential to split your paid ads. This includes split testing facebook ads and split testing google ads. In fact, any ad should always be tested. There are so many variables with ads that it can take. While to get the perfect combination, and when you do, your costs go way down, so split testing is worth sticking with.
Split testing landing pages
You sent traffic to landing pages, so after you have put the effort into creating the perfect ad, don’t get let down by your landing page. This needs testing too. Any increase in conversion rate is going to increase your ROI so if you don’t have a bottom pit of money then you need to test your landing page too.
Split testing email marketing
It can be hard to get high opening rates when it comes to your email marketing. Most programs come with the ability to split test your headlines. You should do this as a minimum. You can also test the time of day you sent out your emails to see if more people open them at a particular time.
How do you split test
Before you split test you must look at all the data you can. This normally means Google analytics, a heat mapping tool such as Hotjar and any other tool that may hold data. Perhaps a pop up tool has integrated analytics, or your email marketing program has analytics.
You also need to be clear about the problems you are trying to solve. Are you trying to increase sales or just engagement on your blog? If you are not clear on the problems then you won’t be able to come up with good tests to fix your problem
Next you need to have a good understanding of the person visiting your webpage or reading your emails, or whoever is visiting the ‘thing’ you are testing. When you put yourself in their shoes, the problems become clearer and ideas for solutions are easier to identify.
Once you have your data, and the problems you want to solve, look for the reasons why the problem exists. e.g your blog page has a high bounce rate, you really need people to engage more and click through to another post. After looking at the heat map you can see people are only reading a quarter of the post. What does this tell you? That either you have answered their question very quickly or the blog post is very boring. Next, how do you get them to engage? This is where you need put your thinking cap on and get creative with your ideas. You could;
Move the call to action higher up to where most people will see or rewrite the blog to make it more interesting. Putting these ideas down in response to what you have learned in your data is called hypothesising and without it you will fail at improving your conversion rate.
When you hypotheses you create a list of data driven reasons (the data doesn’t lie). All you need to do is test your ideas one at a time, eliminating them or confirming them. Each test gathers more data. If you do this often enough, as a part of an ongoing process you will eventually succeed, it’s just a numbers game. You will eventually increase your conversion rates. The more times you do this the higher the probability of increasing your conversion rate further.
Ok so that’s the planning.
How do you actually execute a split test?
Split testing tools
There are several common split testing software tools available. They all have their pros and cons. I use google optimise. It’s great for small businesses, mainly because its free. Other conversion rate optimisation test platforms are VWO and optimisely. Each tool is similar in that you get to create a variation of the page you want to test and state the rules of the test, i.e how many people you want to show it too or how long the test should run. Each tool will have analytics for you to look at to help you decide which is the wining test.
I hope this has given you a brief insight into what split testing is and how it can help you. Split testing is best done as a continual process and it should be seen as an investment because your conversion rate will eventually increase and you will see a return on your investment.
If you want to get started with conversion rate optimisation why don’t you give my services a try. I can work on a starter project with you to get you some quick results and you can see how I work. Then f you are satisfied with my results, we can look at a longer term conversion get the ball rolling.