A/B Testing or Split Testing
Nowadays, organizations around the world are investing large sums of money in marketing their products. To ensure they deliver optimum user experience, continuous efforts and resources are drawn in towards improving the presentation of their websites and applications. Moreover, various testing techniques are used by them to validate the accuracy as well as quality of their product. Apart from these, organizations are also investing in A/B testing, which helps them optimize their products and create a better user experience for their target audience. To understand the significance of A/B testing, let us indulge in a detailed discussion about the same.
What is the concept behind A/B testing?
Also known as Split Testing, A/B testing can be termed as a controlled experiment with two variants of a single variable. During the process of A/B testing, comparative analysis, of two variants of a web page or mobile app, is done to determine which one performs better. The data and statistics thus obtained are then used to justify the incorporation of new changes to the product, which increases its viewership on the internet or help achieve expansion of user base.
Though similar to multivariate test and multinomial test, this type of testing is only focused on testing two variables of a page, app, blog, campaign, etc. at a time.
How does A/B testing work?
There are a number of elements in a webpage/app which affect it's user behaviour. Some of the prime ones are:
- Paragraph text.
- Links and Images.
- Media mentions of awards and recommendations.
- Call to Action.
The web page or the app to be split tested is called as the control. One of the elements is chosen to create a modified version of the control called variation. Both the control and the variation are shown to two different halves of the usual web traffic.
The user experience with each version is measured and collected in an analytics engine for analysis through statistical tools like graphs and pie charts. It is then easy to determine what effect each version had in the form of positive, negative or a neutral feedback.
Why should you consider A/B testing?
An A/B tested web page or a mobile app enables companies to make more out of the user traffic on the internet. This makes a world of difference and is seen in the form of enhanced generation of new leads and sales. Obviously this results in a significant rise in revenue and market shares of the company. Other reasons for considering A/B testing are:
- It offers individuals the opportunity to make necessary and careful changes, which can enhance the user experience.
- Improves the conversion rate over the period of time.
- Enhances content engagement by implementing content and website optimization, which helps in increasing conversions.
- Reduces bounce rates and converts visitors into possible leads.
- Offers the ease of analysing real or factual results.
Two Important Uses of A/B Testing:
Apart from comparing two versions of the same variable, there are other important uses of A/B testing. The team of testers can run a test for A/B testing for the following reasons also:
- Optimization: With the assistance of A/B testing the team of testers can optimize web pages and applications by testing versions of the page and make appropriate changes. Moreover, it can help optimize important elements like images, layout, heading, call to actions, blog posts, among other components that impact the conversion rate.
- Validation: Apart from optimizing the products, with the assistance of A/B testing the team can also validate which version of the product is more suitable and offers better user experience. This can be achieved by conducting data analysis.
Process of A/B Testing:
The process of A/B testing involves various steps, which allow the team to effectively manage and optimize components and get real feedbacks that can improve the effectiveness of the product as well as convergence rate. These steps are:
- Identify the issue: The first step of the process is to identify the issue as well as missing components in your website, application, or campaign.
- Understand your buyer persona & target audience: Once the issue is identified, concentrate on understanding your target audience and their requirements. This can be achieved with the assistance of Google Analytics or any other analytics tool that enables you to comprehend the online behaviour of your target audience.
- Identify goal: Next step in the process is to identify the goal of A/B testing. This will helpful in creating an effective test plan that can aid you in achieving your desired goal.
- Formulate a hypothesis: During this stage the team makes assumptions regarding the output of the testing and decides the criteria, which will help them identify the better version among the two.
- Create Versions: It is during this phase of the process that the team finally creates two version of the product, with small variations. These may be changes in the color, layout, or more.
- Run Experiment: Finally, the experiment is executed by the team, who then waits for the visitors to participate and make the final decision regarding the versions.
- Perform Data Analysis: The data from the tests are accumulated and tested to discern the impact of testing. This is done while comparing the original version of the product. If no significant changes or modifications are generated, the team performs additional tests.
- Report: At the end, the results/outputs, feedbacks, insights, and other necessary details are recorded and reported to the concerned people as well as to the stakeholders of the project.
This process can also be performed with the assistance of various A/B testing tools available in the market.
What Can You Test?
By implementing the process of A/B testing, you can test virtually anything, from your product and its basic features to web pages, email campaigns, and more. However, the focus of this testing should not be on testing each and every component, but should be directed towards testing aspects and components that impact user behavior as well as the popularity of the product. Few of these components are:
- Product Pricing.
- Product Picture.
- Call to Actions.
- Media Mentions.
- Awards & Badges.
- Ads & Offers.
- Landing Pages.
- User Experience.
A/B testing for multiple tests:
Other than using the variants and Control, A/B testing can be used for testing more than two variants at a time. Let's say we want to test the main front image of a web site. We can run a single test and split the audience or the recipients into three groups. This alternative approach has been found to be more efficient and less time consuming as it saves us the trouble of running three separate tests namely, AvsB, BvsC and AvsC.
Things to Consider During A/B Testing:
While performing A/B testing, the team performing the test should consider various aspects that can impact the result of the testing or if not considered, can increase the complexity of the testing process. Therefore, following are some important points that need consideration during A/B testing.
- Pick a variable to test.
- Identify your goal before commencing the process of A/B testing.
- To enhance the effectiveness of A/B testing, split the group equally and randomly.
- Determine the sample size, which will help you understand the number of people you are targeting.
- To get results that allow appropriate conversion optimization, it is vital for you to run one test at a time on any blog post, campaign, or web page.
- Use a automated tool.
- Test both versions of the application or web page simultaneously.
- Appropriate time should be give to the test to get useful data.
- Ask for feedback from real users to further optimize your campaign or application.
- Evaluate your results and take necessary actions based on them.
Inferences from A/B testing:
- If the feedback from the results is not up to expectations, then useful lessons can be learnt to generate new hypotheses for the future.
- If the feedback is positive after the comparison of the two versions, then the parameters modified can be incorporated for creation of a more potent marketing campaign. One which will ultimately bear rich fruits for the company in the near future.
Advantages and Disadvantages of A/B Testing:
A/B testing is a valuable asset for testers as it allows them to tackle various design and product specific issues, while providing thorough comparisons of two variations of the same product. However, no process is perfect and likewise there are some disadvantages of this testing testing also. Hence, mentioned below are some of these advantages and disadvantages:
- Helps get clear and accurate evidence based on user behavior.
- Enables the team ot test new ideas and components.
- Optimizes the product one step at a time.
- Identifies various issues with the design, such as page layout, images, placement of buttons, etc.
- Offers ease of analysis.
- Flexibility in defining variable values.
- Requires excessive time and resources.
- It is focused on resolving specific tasks and goals.
- It does not offer any solutions for system failure.
What are the different tools in the market for A/B testing?
There are a number of tools available in the market for A/B testing. Here's a brief description of some of them:
- A/Bingo: This tool works well with programmes based on ruby on the rails framework.
- Visual website optimizer:
This is an easy to use tool with attractive features such as click maps and visitor segmentation.
This is a tool for landing page creator with added integration for A/B testing.
- A/B Tasty: Test your variants quickly with this reasonably priced tool and get real time reports.
- Adobe Target: This popular enterprise tool combines targeted testing and personalization and tests the target variants based on visitor segmentation.
- Apptimize: Enjoy mobile optimization with this tool. Rapidly create new variants and target them using different user segments.
- ChangeAgain.Me: With this tools leverage the advantage of A/B testing with Google Analytics integration. Get easy to use visual editor and no limit for traffic.
- Convert: Create A/B, multivariate, & split tests using Convert’s visual editor, while enjoying exceptional customer support over live chat.
With the kind of importance social media and the internet has achieved for business organisations, A/B testing is a highly beneficial tool to get an accurate assessment of the strengths and weaknesses inherent in the product. When used with other methods of testing, A/B testing becomes a valuable tool that helps refine the working design of the product and for attracting more users.
To get more insight on ab testing read our next article that focuses on landing page and ab testing checklist.