Converting your customers and clients on your business website is not a science — but split testing makes it so.
A repeatable and reliable science, at that.
If you aren’t already using split testing, you have to ask yourself:
Here’s the thing:
Only 44% of companies rely on split testing as a consistent practice.
There are so many reasons why businesses benefit greatly from split testing — and we’re going to go over the seven most effective ways organizations are using it right now.
But the most significant thing that split testing offers is a culture of experimentation and change. This is especially important now that we live in a world where the algorithms of search engines are constantly shifting.
Split testing gives you a chance to make marketing strategies even more effective — both cost-wise and functionally. A routine practice of testing can keep your users happy and your content top-of-page.
So why aren’t more companies relying on the use of A/B testing?
What is Split Testing?
Before we jump into the specific ways that businesses have used split testing to “win,” let’s take a quick look at split testing entails.
Back in the day, split testing was a mission of a project to undertake because you needed expert knowledge of code to tweak all the elements you might want to test.
But, with the preponderance of split testing software, it’s even easier to split test a webpage. And it’s not just webpages — you can “split test” everything from copy, images, buttons, headlines, subject lines, CTAs, design, and more.
Split testing is a concept that hails from mathematicians. It’s an example of “statistical hypothesis testing.” Split testing reveals what you don’t know about your customers and visitors, based on elements that you do know.
When you split test a landing page, for example, you would have two versions, or variations, of the page. Elements you could choose to focus on include:
- The page design
- The imagery
- The copywriting (such as the headline)
- Button text (Calls-to-action)
- Traffic sources/audiences
Based on the data that flows in — regarding everything from time spent on page, how many people click on buttons, where they click on the page, how far they get through the copy, at what point they exit the page — you can then make changes to the page that encourage the “actions” you want.
This is a process called optimization.
Types of Split Testing
So split testing done right eventually takes the guesswork out of marketing. But it also makes sure that your next at-bat with a sales page or Facebook ad will convert faster, better, and more effectively.
Eventually, the data that you gain from split testing can help you put real standards and best practices in place for your online marketing.
A/B tests are the most popular and well-known type of split testing. In this type of testing, you would “test” only one element. It could be a button, a headline, an image, long form copy, or anything else that might spark a conversion.
The results are so favorable because this kind of test gives you clarity. When the skincare brand NuFACE tested a campaign to incentivize and persuade visitors to purchase, the only element that changed was the “Free Shipping” offer.
The results the split test for this campaign proved that the page which offered customer free shipping resulted in a 90% increase in purchases. The average order value also rose by 7.32%.
Multivariate tests are a little more complicated than traditional single-variable split testing campaigns because you need to track multiple variables at once, which requires some complex math. However, you might opt to use multivariate testing when:
- When testing elements that are related (such as button copy, color, and size)
- When you need to know which element influences a customer’s decision
- When you need to test multiple ideas at once
Fortunately, tools out there like Visual Website Optimizer and Google Optimize are built to do the math for you, which leads to more insightful split testing results with fewer headaches.
Why Do You Need to Perform Split Testing?
Let’s look at some clear, statistical “wins” for businesses that used split testing. Data, after all, is the key to the entire picture here:
- To improve user experience and time on page, Bing relied on split testing. Over 80% of its proposed changes were first run as experiments
- 1 out of every 8 a/b tests drive significant change for an organization
- Amazon has been using a/b testing since its inception — every year, the e-commerce behemoth runs more than 10,000 controlled experiments per year
In fact, 60% of companies already believe that A/B testing is highly valuable for conversion rate optimization. And that’s a good thing because the results bring about multiple benefits that affect everything from bounce rates and user experience to recurring revenue and decreased costs.
8 Benefits of Split Testing for Businesses
The best way to understand the benefits of split testing is to see it in action. For marketers, it’s designed to boost and improve conversion rates, but the effects can reach farther.
1) Improved On-Page Engagement
When you give users what they want, they’ll return over and over again.They’re more likely to make you their go-to resource for the niche you’re operating in, and they’ll be more willing to spend time on your site, interact with various offers, and even leave comments.
This also affects your SEO strategy and rankings in search results.
Give the people what they want, as the saying goes.
2) Better Message Resonance
Tools like heat maps can tell you all about where people are stopping, scrolling, and clicking. These “hot spots” on your page can give you ideas about how to tighten up your marketing messages and copy.
Content plays a huge role in the overall user experience. And split testing can help you figure out how to communicate with what your customers want to hear about.
3) A Decrease in Cart Abandonment
Split testing can also help you understand why customers are dropping off and what they’re doing when they leave. Cart abandonment rates can account for up to 40-50% of lost revenue, so it’s important to test this variable.
4) Continuous Data
As the tracking stats flow in, you’ll have an increasing amount of data to work with. You can use this data to become predictive with your analysis. You’ll also have a very deep insight into your customers’ behaviors.
You’ll be able to use data to create a more holistic picture of your customers, which can then affect how you retarget, what copy you use, and even what products and services your business sells.
5) A Decrease in Wasted Ad Spend
Many businesses think that the only way to improve their conversion rate on ads (like Facebook ads) is to start from scratch and then improve on the campaign to reflect what people are clicking on.
But why reinvent the wheel? Strategyzer, a marketing firm, used a Facebook ad campaign to increase ticket sales for an event. But instead of starting from the bottom, they studied other successful campaigns and mimicked the copy, the headlines, the imagery, and the call to action.
They split tested different audiences and completely transformed the cost per purchase. From a campaign that only got one click after three weeks (and $4,433.53 spent), the new ad got an average CPA of $123.45 and 92 purchases.
That’s a 96.72% decrease in ad spend.
6) Finding the Right Combination of Page Elements
Eventually, split testing will lead you to the right combination of page elements, offers, copy, and more. For example, Netflix already uses tracking and its own algorithm to personalize every user’s homepage that becomes more and more focused with its data.
The more you watch, the more likely you are to see “matches” personalized to your watching history. UX designers have also tested the fact that most individuals read from left to right so they’re more likely to click on elements (or suggestions) on the page that start from the left.
7) More Rewarding Experiences for Users
Studies consistently show that conversion rate optimization (CRO) is very closely related to user experience. Consider, for example, that a slow-loading page on mobile can seriously depress the conversion rate of a web page.
On the other hand, better UX design that comes as a result of user testing can increase a company’s conversion rate by 400%.
When you improve a user’s experience of your software, of a website’s page, or of your product’s offer positioning, you’re implicitly telling them that their presence on your site matters.
How To Get Started With Split Testing
Here’s the deal:
With split testing, you have the chance to greatly improve every aspect of your business’s online presence and operations. It puts the decision-making process firmly in your hands. You’re able to grab the wheel of your marketing operations and take control of more than you may have thought was possible to control.
Data helps you back up and justify your decisions and it points you in the right direction. It serves you – not the other way around – and allows you to stay away from arbitrary “HiPPO” decisions. (What’s a HiPPO? It’s the “Highest Paid Person’s Opinions.”) Split testing data can help you ensure that all future decisions are based on raw information.
Split testing eliminates the risk of leaving money on the table, especially if you’re running an online business. That’s doubly true if you’re working with sales funnels, which require your customer to go through a series of landing pages, offers, and take actions as they go through the customer journey.