An Introduction to A/B Testing for Beginners In previous posts, we’ve discussed A/B testing your site as a tactic to increase your conversion rate. However, we haven’t gone into much depth about how and why online marketers use this. More commonly, SEO, web analytics and usability strategies are discussed. A/B testing isn’t as common as these Internet marketing subjects, but this doesn’t mean it isn’t as important.

This blog post is meant to help you understand why you need to A/B test and discusses how to seamlessly implement it into your marketing strategy.

What is A/B Testing?

A/B Testing is exactly what it sounds like. You have two variations, A and B, of a specific component (for example, a subscription button that we’ll discuss below) and a measurement to define success between the two. Online marketers use A/B testing, which is sometimes called split testing, to compare the two variations of parts of the website to see which performs better.

Creating The First Test

To get a basic idea of A/B testing, start out with a single element on your website. For our purposes, let’s use an email subscription button on your homepage. Then decide which tool you want to use. We recommend something basic and free for beginners just starting out. After a quick search, we found Visual Website Optimizer – it gives you a free trial and seems to be a pretty popular option for newbies.

Set up your A/B test:

  • Visual Website Optimizer lets you create variations of your test subject. In our case, create two versions of your email subscription button in HTML and add it to your test. Once your test is live, the tool will randomly replace the original button on your homepage with the other variations before displaying the page to your site visitors.
  • If you are testing something broader than a button such as which color is more appealing as your page background (black vs. grey vs. white), you can A/B test an entire page. The tool allows you to redirect users to pages with the colors you choose if you create a variation of the page’s url.

Why A/B Testing Improves Conversions

It’s up to you to decide your website’s goal. When we say improving your conversion rate, we mean improving the percentage of your website’s visitors who end up reaching your goal. If you have an e-commerce site, your goal is to generate revenue through sales. Testing your shopping cart or purchase flow helps to determine where customers lose interest. If you have a popular blog and want visitors to sign up for email newsletters to stay connected, testing your email subscription button becomes important. Perhaps the location is hard to find if you have too much content on your site or the button color isn’t as noticeable. All these elements affect your user experience and are very important to test regardless of the purpose of your website.

It’s important to note that although we recommend A/B testing, we don’t want you to test every minor detail on your page. Decide your website’s goal and then make a list of elements to test based on that. Choose a tool from the list below or one of your own to make testing efficient and easy too!

Tools for A/B Testing

Visual Website Optimizer

Google Website Optimizer 

Optimizely

Unbounce

If you enjoyed learning about A/B testing or if you have tips of your own, let us know in the comments below: