A/B Testing in Digital Marketing – What it is & why you need to (Part 1): A/B Testing for your website

A/B Testing for your website

By Ian Jeffrey, Co-Founder and CEO, Breathe Life

Always Be testing.” It’s good advice, but not what A/B testing stands for. The A and B in A/B testing refer to two different versions of something that can be compared to figure out which performs better. A/B testing is a proven best practice in digital marketing circles, but a relatively new concept for many in the insurance industry.

Today, data is the lifeblood of the entire insurance business and not just for actuaries and underwriters. It’s a critical concept that can help the insurance industry convert more consumers into customers in this digital age, so worth taking a moment or two to understand.

For the purposes of this two-part series on A/B testing, I’ll focus on the use of A/B testing in digital marketing to improve conversion rates on your website (in part 1, below); and offsite, e.g. ads and email marketing (in part 2, coming soon). Conversion rates measure the percentage of visitors that take the desired action. The goal is to identify what works, do more of what works, and eliminate what doesn’t work.

Here’s an example from Humana comparing two homepage banner options:

The simpler design and stronger call to action (CTA) in the treatment led to 433% more click throughs (the desired action).

 How Does A/B Testing Work?

An A/B test is a randomized controlled experiment where one treatment acts as a control for the other. For example, your website has a “Learn More” button (CTA) and you want to test how a bigger button performs against a smaller button, with performance measured by the number of visitors that click on the button. To run the test, two sets of users are randomly assigned to a treatment (different button sizes) and you measure which version got the most clicks. And to run the test successfully, you need to have a sample size that is statistically significant.

Statistical significance is critical to A/B testing so you can be confident that your result isn’t due to chance. If we go back to the “Learn More” button example, conducting an A/B test with a small sample size can’t minimize the chances that other factors (e.g. viewing on desktop or mobile device) influence the conversion, a ‘click’ in this case. A statistically relevant sample size helps to filter out other factors and isolate the performance of the item you are testing. Determining a statistically relevant sample size for a given test is a mixture of art and equation and should be determined in consultation with a qualified data practitioner.

A/B Testing & Your Website

Since there is no shortage of opportunities to A/B test, it’s best to focus on items that are most likely to have a meaningful impact on customer engagement. With this in mind, we’ve identified three of the most impactful testing opportunities:

  1. Calls to action – since CTAs are the lifeblood of digital marketing, effectiveness is the top priority. And since A/B testing opportunities are many, it’s important to focus on specific changes when testing, for example:
    • Position: where the CTA sits on the page – above the fold, below the fold, in the middle, on the left, on the right, and in relation to other text.
    • Color: a general rule of thumb is that your CTA button should be a contrasting color that is distinct and stands out.
    • Text: the text used on your CTA is arguably the most important text on the page
  2. Copywriting – the words you use on the landing page need to convince prospective customers to take action, and effective copy is a mix of art and science.
    • Length: while common sense may tell you that shorter form is better than longer form, it’s not actually cut and dry.
    • Text: unlike CTAs, actual text performance testing can be tedious so unless you are testing two distinct sets of copy, experimentation could be the way to go.
  3. Design – this is a big bucket, but not all design elements warrant A/B testing so we’re highlighting a few elements for consideration.
    • Columns: as with any design choices, what is visually appealing to you can be very different from what actually performs.
    • Video: there is no doubt that video is in vogue but it’s also expensive and hard to do well, so if you are going to pull the trigger you should pull with confidence.
    • Background: images, colors, and patterns all have a subliminal impact as well as an impact on conversion.
    • Navigation: effective navigation is a critical element of website design as it ultimately directs site visitors to desired actions.

Why A/B testing is important

Consumers shop differently today, we have different expectations, and our online experiences with brands matter. Moreover, there is a huge untapped market opportunity worth an estimated $12 billion in potential revenues, according to Accenture. Isn’t that enough reason to consider adding A/B testing to your digital marketing toolbox?

In part two of this series on A/B testing in digital marketing, Ian Jeffrey will explain the importance of testing off site marketing efforts including email and advertising. In addition, he’ll provide guidance on how to interpret A/B testing results and implement it in your digital marketing.

About the Authors

Ian Jeffrey has been a marketer and entrepreneur in Montreal and Silicon Valley since 2001, and is currently CEO and Co-founder of Breathe Life.

About Breathe Life

Breathe Life is helping protect families around the world by transforming the way personal insurance is bought and sold today. For more information, please visit www.breathelife.com.

Source: Breathe Life

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