Why is A/B testing important in marketing?
What is A/b testing and why is it so important in marketing?
In an ideal world we would always know exactly what our customer wants and the best ways to connect with them to encourage conversion. Unfortunately, it’s never that easy. However, we get close to certain by testing our approach. In marketing this is often achieved through A/B or split testing.
What is A/B testing?
A/B testing is a small scale, randomised test comparing two versions of a piece of marketing material to figure out which performs better. For example, two different layouts for a brochure design or two campaign slogans. The goal with A/B testing is to ensure the final version of our marketing will be the one most likely to get results.
Goal & Hypothesis
The most important part of your A/B test is having a clear goal and a hypothesis.
“My current ad campaign isn’t getting clicks and I suspect it is because the call to action isn’t strong enough.”
The goal is to get clicks and the hypothesis is a weak Call to Action (CTA). With these in mind you are ready to set-up an A/B test. Using the current ad as a control (A) you can introduce a second option with what you believe could be a stronger CTA (B).
It is important to note that you only want to test one element at a time. For example, if you want to test the CTA don’t also go changing the images or the ad copy. With multiple changes you won’t be able to accurately gauge what aspect influenced your results.
With your goal and testable hypothesis in mind you now need to identify which metric you will be assessing/ measuring to determine results. With our previous example, the goal was clicks so this will be our metric. While changes in other metrics (e.g. post reactions) might be interesting, they aren’t directly relevant to our goal and hypothesis so they’re not relevant to the outcomes of this test.
If we do end up seeing something worthwhile in these other metrics we can use them to inform future tests.
It is important to make sure your audiences are randomised to reduce the impact of external influences e.g. demographics, gender, location or device type. Depending on the type of materials you are testing you may be able to use in-built tools that will do this for you. However, if doing it manually you’ll want to test 50% (25/25 for each option) of your total audience. Leaving the remaining 50% as a fresh audience for the now optimised material.
Run the test
Allow the test to run for an appropriate amount of time. How long that might be exactly will vary from test to test, but talking in broad strokes you’ll want to give it at least 5 days to a week minimum to get accurate results. You also don’t need to limit yourself to a set timeframe, if you’ve run the test for a week and haven’t gotten the numbers you need to make a statistically significant assessment, keep going. There are often time restraints in marketing but if you want accurate results it’s worth taking the time to do things properly.
Once you have allowed your test to run for an appropriate amount of time and you have statistically significant results. It’s time to review. Depending on the type of material you are testing, and the platform you’re using you may be provided with clear answers. Some tests may require more investigation. Again, you’re running the test so you can know which version will perform better, you don’t want to start guessing now. If you need, consult an expert to assets the results for you.
Now you have some clear results you can apply them to your campaign! With 50% of your audience un-tested you’ll have fresh eyes who can react naturally to your newly optimised material. And if done correctly, get better results than you would have without testing.
Larger projects will almost certainly require multiple tests. For example, with a landing page build you may want to test layout, then copy, then image selection even button colours. It may sound like a lot of effort but you’ll end up knowing that the final version has been optimised for success. Which is exactly what we all want.
So why is A/B testing important in marketing?
Data driven marketing should always be the goal. While there are people have simply have a knack for knowing what works and what doesn’t. When it comes to spending your businesses hard earned dollars, you don’t want to rely on intuition or guess work. Data is knowledge and knowledge is power.
Feel inspired but still not sure where to start with A/B testing? Get in touch and our expert digital marketing team will be happy to help.