How to carry out A/B testing to increase your website conversion rate

SEO is important. Do it right and you’ll boost your search presence above your competitors. Higher rankings means your business gains more exposure online and an increase of potential customers. I say potential because increasing your traffic is great, assuming that traffic isn’t going to waste.

Once you’ve got your business to the top of the results, then what? You need to convert them into paying customers. If an increase is rankings and website traffic is vanity, increasing your customer base and sales is sanity.

Hence the importance of A/B (Otherwise referred to as split testing) testing.

What is A/B testing?

Simply put, A/B testing is the process of comparing two versions of something to discover which one performs / converts better. Often used in email marketing, this experiment is not as widely used when it comes to improving your website conversion rate.

It’s an optimisation technique of comparing two versions of a webpage with one varying element and analysing the results. It could be something as simple as changing a colour of a button or link, to changing your CTA text. Now you’re probably thinking ‘how much difference can that make to my business?’ – well the answer might surprise you.

Back when Marissa Meyer worked at Google, she led a project testing the impact on different shades of blue. Around 50 shades were chosen and were run as 1% experiments. This means that 1% of users say one variation of blue links, with another 1% of their visitors being shown another, and so forth. By measuring and analysing the results to see which had a higher conversion, it was reported that this A/B experiment led to an extra $200m a year in ad revenue.

As Google UK’s managing director Dan Cobley told the Guardian, “In our search we have ads on the side, little blue links that go to other websites: we had the same thing on Gmail. But we recognised that the shades of blue in those two different products were slightly different when they linked to ads.”

And that’s the power of A/B testing. Rather than choosing CTA text that you or your developer prefer; you test different variations and measure which led to a higher CTR on your ‘buy now’ or ‘contact us’ button, for example.

A/B testing should be small changes that are measured and analysed, not complete design changes. Once your experiment is over and you have the stats to implement your change, you move on to the next A/B test. Keep making these small changes and you could see a big increase to your conversion rate and therefore, your numbers.

Most split tests will bring a small change, so you need to think of this optimisation technique as a continuous process – not a one off. However, add it to your search engine optimisation strategy and it could be one of the best things you’ve done on your digital marketing front.

Some splits tests are simple and can be performed on the website itself whilst measuring the results using plugins or software. Others such as metadata with the aim of increasing your CTR to get additional visitors to your site may require you to use additional resources. The latter is talked about in further detail in other blog posts on our website.

Simple split tests you can run

  1. Colour of your buttons

It’s a simple one but an effective one employed by various big companies running split tests. The colour of your CTA buttons can have a surprising result in your CTR (Click Through Rate).

Does a neutral colour work best for you or a strong contrasting one? Whilst it’s not the same for every model, normally a strong contrasting colour performs one’s that blend with your main colour scheme. It also depends on what your CTA action, i.e. a ‘sign up now’ button or an ‘add to cart’.

However, this is probably one of the first A/B tests you should perform.

  1. CTA text

Another simple but worthwhile test to run is the text within your buttons. As above, there can be a significant change in your CTR when changing your CTA text. Things like changing ‘Sign up now’ to ‘Get started now’.

You may be thinking that such simple text changes are not going to result in a difference in numbers, but you’d be surprised if you saw what other companies had achieved using such simple A/B test such as CTA text.

  1. Position of buttons

Changing the position of your CTA buttons can result in big CTR differences. Left vs right, top vs bottom, floating vs fixed and so forth. The latter may be not be as simple as the other changes, granted – though is still worth testing.

Measuring your split tests

Without measuring your split tests, you’re guessing. When sending email campaigns our through service providers such as MailChimp, they have integrated split testing tools which gives you the data you need. But what about running split tests on websites?

This depends on what CMS your website is built on. The more popular ones with a wider reach will have tools available to them, (albeit normally paid for the worthwhile tools) for the purpose of measuring and analysing these results. The costs aren’t high and ran correctly, you should easily be able to increase your conversation rate.

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