The Power of A/B Testing
A/B testing is one of the most underutilized opportunities by promotional firms today. It’s also something you need to know about to help your clients succeed online. Fortunately, understanding A/B testing is not that complicated. Implementing it is easy, too.
Consider this example: What subject line generates more clicks to your website?
- "20 percent off this week’s top-selling item"
- "Lowest price ever on our top promotional item"
Turns out, the "20 percent" one generated more interest than the “lowest price” one. Perhaps it was because it had a number, or, perhaps, it was because it seemed more urgent because of the “this week” reference. Regardless of the reason, knowing which subject line will generate more traffic is a great way to write better subject lines.
Nearly every email provider includes built-in A/B testing. You aren’t limited just to subject lines, either. Most let you test more than one option, including being able to change who the email is “from.” It’s so easy to do. When you set up the email, select an option to test on a percentage of recipients. Once the system has analyzed the results, it will automatically send to the best-performing option to the remaining percentage of email subscribers. You can choose what to measure, including the click rate or open rate.
A/B testing is not limited to emails. In fact, A/B testing on your website is one of the most valuable tests you can run. You should be running these tests on a regular basis, and give them enough traffic (and time) to have enough data to properly analyze the results. The obvious items to test include a new home page design or search bar placement. You also can test specific language, such as, “Add to Cart” or “Continue,” or even which products to feature. A/B testing on your website is more complex than email A/B testing, and usually requires someone who understands code. It also requires you to properly analyze the results. (For example, a new home page may confuse returning users even if it is better and might underperform for returning users.)
I continually remind people about the importance of e-commerce in their ongoing business strategies. Emails and websites both need to be tweaked and improved continually for great results. If you aren’t A/B testing yet, you should be. And it’s very easy to get started.
For website testing, Optimizely is the best-known tool for A/B testing. If your website team is not using an A/B testing tool already, it’s a great place to start. Remember, though, you need someone who understands code to use this. Be sure to give the tests enough traffic to analyze results properly, and then take into account all the possible meanings of the results.
For email A/B testing, check with your email service provider. It’s best to use its built-in tools. Email testing is extremely easy. So go ahead, give those subject lines a test and start improving your email marketing.