With the creation of the digital marketplace businesses have been able to refine their presence to the point of near perfection. I say near perfection, because nothing is perfect even the Seahawks winning the Super Bowl (you guys let them score 8 whole points?).
An indicator as to how many interceptions there would be?
Back to the topic at hand- A/B testing. What is it? How is it used? Why should we care about it? The concept of A/B testing is a relatively simple one: Create two versions of a website and see which one gets better results for whatever you are looking for. For example, say you are the owner of an online retailer, and want to see if having a list of products on the top of the webpage generates more sales than having it on the right hand side of the page. You would create both versions of the webpage, and split your web traffic in half to see which one does better.
When I was reading about this type of testing, the only thing I could thing of was going to an optometrist. When reading my description, that’s what you probably thought of right? Because I have absolutely terrible eye sight (somewhere between 20/200 and 20/100) I have come to become very acquainted with the question “Now is this lens better or worse?” Wouldn’t it be better if that could be done in real time, without you even knowing? In my case, no. I’d probably crash my car, or fall of a cliff. But for most people who can see, I can only imagine that it would be far more efficient for that to be done without them even realizing it.
So, why should we care about it? Well for one, doesn’t it make sense to have your webpage designed so that more people go through with what you want them to do? The answer to that is yes.
So, who has used A/B testing? Probably most of the websites that you have used. But, have you noticed it? Probably not. And that’s one of the beautiful aspects of A/B testing. You can test out two versions of your webpage, and pretty much get real time results as people interact with it. The equivalent of this in the “real” world would be having two versions of the store, where every other person who enters sees a different store layout. Unfortunately, something called “science” doesn’t allow us to do this.
Any chemistry I know came from Breaking Bad and Bill Nye
Would you like some proof that A/B testing works? I hope that was a “yes” because, that’s what you’re about to get.
One of the best examples that I have found increased lead generation by about 368%. Pretty much, one version of a form worked 4 times better than the alternative. That’s huge. When you look at what was different between the two versions, it really doesn’t seem like that big of a difference.
On one version, there is more of a description at the beginning, and then a few boxes to fill in (like company name, phone number, email) and then options for different to click on. The other version has the same boxes to fill in, but instead of the options to click on, there are text boxes to fill in. It looks a bit more intimidating to fill out, compared to the first one. It’s pretty incredible that by changing one aspect of the webpage increased the leads by 368%. This goes to show that it is very important to not” overestimate your user’s tolerance, goodwill, and patience”.
So, changing up how customers fill out forms can make a huge difference. But, what about probably one of the most important parts of your website, the landing page? There have been several tests conducted to see which landing pages receive more interaction.
One of these was done with the Mitt Romney 2012 campaign. On one landing page, viewers saw an image with the a link to enter a contest to go to a conference in Tampa. On the other landing page, the “chance to win” form was right on the front page. Entries were 632% higher on the latter. This goes to show that through A/B testing you can increase your viewership. Even though he didn’t win the presidency, at least he still has some career opportunities…
I think it would not be too hard to get Mitt Romney to be a correspondent on The Daily Show. I’m going to work on it.
— John Hodgman (@hodgman) January 19, 2014
This can also be seen through another page layout, where the site was able to determine the users location (at least what state they were in) and then post it on the landing page. So, instead of saying “Get the latest news & updates from the campaign”, the landing page said “Florida, get the latest news & updates from the campaign.” Not a very big change, but by including that one extra word, users were 19% more likely to give the campaign team their email address.
Another example of how A/B testing can increase web traffic was through different designs a group tried out for their site. On their website they first compared the original design against a “long form design”. The long form design was pretty much all of the base information that the user would want to know to sign up for updates, but it was a bit more reading, and almost no pictures. However, this increased the sign-up rate by 37.5%.
Then, they decided to try a radically different design. They tried the original site against a site that featured a smiling person in the background, and less information than the original design. Despite the lack of information, the sign up rate was 102.5% higher than the original design. They then added the information to the information from the long form site underneath the picture, assuming that there would be an even higher increase in sign-ups. However, the sign-up rate went down about 23%.
They then tried different people in the background, and each had different results, although there was no increase or decrease more than 5%.
The moral of the story: Keep testing your website with different designs. There is always room for improvement.