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The Ultimate Small Business Guide to A/B Testing

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A/B testing allows small businesses to make data-driven decisions to improve their marketing activities and ultimately their bottom line. In its most basic form, A/B testing is the process of testing two different versions of an element on a web page or a digital marketing campaign. The goal is to understand which version performs better with a given audience and optimize the element accordingly.

In this post, we’ll discuss why A/B testing is important and how you can use A/B testing to improve your small businesses marketing tactics.

Why is A/B Testing Important?

When designing websites and marketing campaigns, you naturally approach with a bias. The bias is usually a result of what you think the customer experience should be. With A/B testing, you can gain data on how your audience is actually engaging on your site or campaigns and optimize your website or campaign accordingly.

Instead of making your decisions based on your own preferences and assumptions, you will make decisions based on concrete data.

What Elements Can Be Tested?

Nearly every element of your website or digital campaign can be tested. For example, say that you’re planning to launch a Paid Search campaign but are not sure which ad headline to use. You could conduct an A/B test on the headline where 50% of your audiences sees headline one and the other 50% of your audience sees headline two. After you run the test, you would implement the headline that had the highest click rates.

Here are some other elements that you could test if you’re not sure what makes the most sense for your business:

Main Headline

This is either the introduction copy on your ad or the main header at the top of your website page that leads into the rest of the creative. It often contains a brief introduction to your product, offer or service.

Hero Space

This is the top section of your website that is used to generate interest in the offering. You could test different designs of the hero space or try testing two different images to see which appeals more to your audience. 

Call to Action (CTA) Text

This is the text on the button displayed on your ad or website. An example of a CTA could be a button with the text ‘Claim Offer’. You could test different variations of the CTA text, such as ‘Save Now’ vs. ‘Claim Offer’, to see which version has a higher click through rate. 

CTA Design

It’s important to also test the design of your CTA and use the design that performs best with your audience. A few CTA design elements that you can test are the color, arrows, contrast, or size. Make sure to only test one element at a time.  

Copy Length

Test the copy length on different pages of your site to see how much copy is enough to inform the visitor and encourage them to take the next step of the purchase process.

Form

Many businesses include forms on different parts of their website to collect lead information. For instance, if you have a newsletter for your small business, you may have a form where users can sign up for newsletter updates. It is a good idea to test the number of form fields you include on your form to determine the ideal form length. Make sure that you have the fields necessary to capture sufficient contact data, while not including too many fields that would prevent the prospect from completing the form.

Tools for Small Business A/B Testing

There are a variety of different tools that you can use to run A/B tests for your small business. Here are a few of our favorites:

Optimizely 

Optimizely is one of the most popular A/B testing platforms that allows you to easily test ideas on controlled segments of your traffic. You can test headline ideas, images, CTA’s, colors, graphics and more. Optimizely offers a free trial of its web experimentation product which is a great way to try out the product and see if it is right for you. It is one of the more robust options on the market, so a good option for growing businesses that want a tool that can scale.

Unbounce

Unbounce is great for small businesses who want to convert more of their paid and website traffic with custom landing pages, targeted popups and sticky bars. It allows you to test multiple landing page variants to continuously improve your landing pages’ conversion rates. The tool is easy to use and does not require development experience.

Google Optimize

Google Optimize is a free tool that is more limited than some of the other tools available, but still provides effective A/B testing software.

It’s important to remember that when running any type of A/B test, you should only alter one variable at a time. This will allow you to gain conclusive results and easily track the sources of change. Once you’ve identified your winning version in a test, don’t stop there. You should continue to run tests so you can keep improving your overall digital marketing strategy and ultimately drive more sales.

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