The process of creating two or more different types of pages or adverts is known as A / B, or Split testing. A proportion of your users and site visitors are shown one page, and a proportion a different version of the same page.
Internet advertising is a huge and often controversial topic, but it is central to marketing in our digital age and has many beautiful qualities.
Unlike traditional print marketing - brochures and newspaper adverts, internet advertising allows the opportunity to create multiple versions of an advert or web page, and then test to see which one leads to more conversions*.
The process of creating two or more different types of pages or adverts is known as A / B, or Split testing. A proportion of your users and site visitors are shown one page, and a proportion a different version of the same page. The number of variations can be as large as you like, although we find results are more useful if you limit yourself to two each time.
It’s simple. You send, say 500 visitors to one page, 500 to another page and the page the returns the largest number of conversions becomes the “winner” and is used until you are ready to try that version against another variation.
Sometimes the differences between two pages or adverts are as small as a heading, button colour, or sometimes they might be two entirely different pages - different designs, text, images, and so on.
Get started with A/B testing
That said, in our experience, a successful A / B testing campaign will involve only small differences between each page, each time you run a campaign. The reason being it limits the variables and gives you more accurate data about what works and what doesn’t. A good example would be to try differently angled headlines, such as:
"Struggling to choose a Content Management System?” and testing this against:
"Let us show you how you can save time and money with our Content Management System."
At a very basic level of A / B testing, you could run one headline for a week, and then change to the second one for the same period of time to see which led to more conversions.
If you want to automate the process and see faster results, you could use one of a number of software tools.
The disadvantage of running two headlines, one after the other, is the time it takes to collate results, and the relative amount of work involved.
Plus, as soon as you add more more campaigns, or more variables the process would quickly become unmanageable.
This is where software can help, if your CMS does not allow you to run A / B tests, there are a number of third party applications that will. The cheapest option, although perhaps not the simplest, is the Google Analytics Content Experiments feature. This provides a powerful testing tool, but can be challenging to use as it does not provide a visual editor.
Two common products which provide visual page editors and simple installation are:
Please note: we are not affiliated with any of these suppliers and do not earn commission if you click on these links, although we do use Optimizely for our own campaigns.
Advantages of PPC and paid advertising
If you are paying for traffic to your website, A / B testing can help ensure that you maximise your return on investment. As PPC advertising can be scaled up or scaled down, once you find the version of the page that prompts most conversions you can move quickly to ensure you aren’t wasting budgets on a page that isn’t as effective.
*In case you didn’t know:
Conversions are the action that you want the user to make after reading the page, it might be to explore the site further, contact you by phone or email, subscribe to a newsletter or purchase a product/service.