If it ain’t broke, why fix it, right? Did you ever notice how the only people who ever seemed to believe that expression were in pretty deep denial about just how much help they really needed? When it comes to your business’ online marketing strategy, it is essential that you know exactly what is working for you, what is not, and how to get better results.
Maybe you’ve recognized some weak areas of your online marketing strategy, but you’re just not sure where to get started. In terms of sales, the simple fact is that evolving your marketing strategy is every bit as crucial as improving your product, and A/B testing is one of the best and fastest methods to generate more leads and drive more traffic to your site. Think of A/B testing as a diagnostic tool to test what is going wrong (or right!) on everything from landing pages, email marketing, or even the color of buttons or placement of images on web pages.
A/B testing is sometimes referred to as split testing, which is a way of comparing marketing variables in order to determine which one gets a better response. Typically, it’s used to test two versions of a web page, but it could also be used to test an email marketing plan, for example. In this form of testing, the element you’re testing is called a control and the one that you think might generate a better result is called a treatment. So now that you know what it is, the real question is: how do you put it to work for your business?
Know what you want
A well-designed test is crucial. Do you remember when you learned how to write a hypothesis in junior high science? The process really isn’t all that different. When you’ve decided what you want from the element being tested, take the time to analyze how any important metrics might be affected when you make changes. When testing web pages, consider how busy the page is. If it’s a new page or one that doesn’t see much traffic, design your test to allow more time or traffic to come to the page, so you have some significant data to consider. And, of course, you need to know what would constitute a success. If you just throw out two versions of a page without a clear idea of what you expect or what you’re hoping for, your results aren’t going to tell you much.
Trust best practices
They’re called that because they have been proven to work. Starting with best practices means you will be on solid ground at the outset. Don’t rely on your intuition. What might make perfect sense to you might not be what works best for a customer. Whether it’s an email strategy, a landing page, or a call to action, learn from what has worked well in the past and then use A/B testing to find what is right for you.
Shake it up
You might think it would make the most sense to test one element of a design at a time and work toward gradually improving all of them. Slow and steady wins the race, right? Not with A/B testing. If you limit yourself to testing small elements at a time, what you will get is a slowly evolving version of the same page. Don’t be afraid to try a radical re-design of whatever element you are considering, and see if your strategy has been missing the mark. Why would you settle for ‘good’, when you can have ‘great’?
Keep on testing
A/B testing, like most of the elements of your online marketing strategy, needs to be an ongoing process. Don’t settle after just one test. So, maybe the first one didn’t give the results you expected. You know what? That’s probably a good thing. Life is unexpected. By making a continuous habit of testing, you can have a dramatic impact on the success of your site over an extended period of time. And by making use of results that have been tested, you know you are heading in the right direction.
Ultimately, if you’re not using A/B testing in your online marketing plan, you’re flying blind. By gathering useful data on what works and what doesn’t, you can modify your strategy and evolve your plan accordingly. With careful planning and consistent testing, A/B testing can help you ensure that your online marketing plan is moving your business toward better results.