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Complete Guide to A/B Testing: How to Increase Sales and Gain More Consumers

Shoppers bite into the habit of holding out two equivalent items from a store and asking their friends which product is better. In a perfect world, businessmen could do the same: ask consumers which service or goods they prefer, and deliver accordingly. But the world of business is much more complex than this, especially in the online arena.

Internet-based entrepreneurs generally have to deal with wider pool of consumers, as the websites can be viewed by anyone across the world. There is both a perk and a drawback to this. Establishing an online business allow proprietors to go global, and enjoy influx of profits when all things are in the right place. On the other hand, the diversity of clients may result to challenges in customer satisfaction.

Ironically, Internet provides wider scope of communication but still couldn’t go near the convenience of personally reaching out to customers. Despite the eclectic tools made possible by advancements in technology, the best way of knowing what buyers want is still to approach them as they enter the physical store and ask about specifics.

How to effectively increase sales and monitor conversion ration with A/B Testing

AB testing comparing two pages of a website

On the brighter side, online entrepreneurs can conduct several methods to pinpoint the exact inclination of their niche. Although they’re not developing any direct relationships with their customers, they can still determine scientific data that reveals their preference of their niche through an automated form of experimentation. This makes A/B Testing a desired choice option for online entrepreneurs.

Getting to Know A/B Testing

A/B testing is a method utilized in marketing. It is also called split. The idea behind this procedure is to compare two versions of a webpage and check which of these could attract more audience. Remember the shopper showing two equivalent items and asking for opinions? It’s the exact same thing.

This test is conducted to foretell the modifications that can be done on a website to potentially bring higher response and conversion rates. The goal is not only to obtain a spike in the traffic, but also to convince visitors into making a purchase.

AB Testing flowchart from Wikipedia

How the Test is Performed

Split testing method involves the close examination of different design elements. This could be in the guise of the banner, button, menu bars, contents, and layout of the images/videos/texts. Developers or designers would then tweak the look of a page subtly to prevent the audience from being overwhelmed. The aim here is to make an unsuspecting audience participate to get the most honest and accurate results.

Typically, A/B testing only allows two elements to be tested simultaneously. Those who may wish to compare more than one variable at the same time can do multivariate testing. Two versions of the web page will be shown to visitors simultaneously. The number of clicks made by users on each website will be recorded and compared for analysis.

Reasons for Conducting A/B Tests

Suppose a once-thriving e-commerce website is observed to lag behind in terms of sales and traffic. Entrepreneurs have the tendency to balk and sulk especially when they run out of ideas in getting back their customers. But this is why A/B testing has been introduced.
One of the perks of doing the test is to allow businessmen to have firsthand information on how changes on the appearance of the site could make such an impact on the behavior of the consumers. It may also be handy to page designers who tend to plunge into overhauls without prior research on the habits of visitors. When hoping for the best starts to take its toll on the profit, web developers better start doing the test.

Needless to say, A/B testing serves as a risk cushion to webpage alterations. This is aside from its advantage in studying the preference of the niche market.

Proofs of Effectiveness

The efficacy of A/B testing is not limited to the claims of reference books and articles. One of the solid proofs that the test works is the result extracted by Sim Only when it conducted an A/B test.

The experiment used four different variations of a single web page:
1. Vertical Phone: the links for Blackberry and iPhone brands were arranged vertically and according to popularity on the right side of the page. The checkbox that allowed users to choose one brand at the same time was retained. Images of phones were used as icons.

2. Horizontal Phone: the links were positioned horizontally across the page, with the brands of iPhone and Blackberry arranged according to popularity. The checkbox is still present, and phone images are also used.

3. Vertical SIM: list of Blackberry and iPhone brand links are placed on the right side of the place and arranged according to popularity. Check box is still used in the layout, but images of SIM cards were used in place of the mobile phone icons.

4. Horizontal SIM: the links for the Blackberry and iPhone brands are placed across the page, and arranged according to popularity. Checkbox is usable, and images of SIM cards are used for icons.

Remember that Sim Only is a leading online enterprise that is currently enjoying thousands of traffic from customers in different parts of the globe. But through this experiment, they are bound to get 20% increase in their conversion and click out rates.

After the four variants were shown to audience within six weeks, it appears that the visitors have strong bias towards the vertical layout. It gained a significant advantage over its horizontal equivalent. When the results of the phone and SIM card icons were compared, visitors are observed to make more clicks on the layout that used mobile phone images.

All things considered, Sim Only now has the reason to modify the layout of their website. They are guaranteed to acquire more sales and conversion rates if they implement the design wanted by their target consumers.

The experiment was made to last only for six weeks as the company may lose significant leads and traffic in showing the other three variations with lower click out rates.

In a Nutshell…

It is one of the Internet-based businesses that attested to the effectiveness of A/B testing. There are more case studies published by other companies, and this could be a perfect reference to those who are simply testing the waters.

When all the tales of the entrepreneurs can be heard, one can easily infer that A/B testing is one of the tickets to revive a dying biz. When e-commerce sites managed to somehow lose their flair, the test can give developers some hints on where they could start. It can also be an infallible tool for trial and error when site creators are torn between two varying page designs.

It is unwise for website business key players to dilly-dally when it comes to formulating marketing strategy. With the tight competition raging in the market, it is best to look before leaping. This may only be possible through A/B testing.

Those who wish to take the test a step further could also try doing multivariate testing. This calls for greater expertise and knowledge, but it allows simultaneous testing of more than one element of a website.

Seek assistance from an A/B testing professional and jump start the influx of revenues soon.

This post was contributed by Ruben Corbo, one of our contributors. Apart from writing for us here, he’s a freelancer specialized in covering Africa technology news, music, online marketing and branding. When he’s not writing new post, he focused on composition and production of good music for short films and other forms of visual arts.

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What are A/B Testing and Multivariate Testing? How do I implement them in my marketing?

Ok, so you have a blog or an online store or some other form of website and it makes a little money, or maybe it makes a lot. Many of us in this position get fixated with trying to drive more traffic to our sites so we can keep growing our earnings. Whilst there is nothing wrong with this it’s worth remembering the simple equation of visitors multiplied by conversion rate (it’s not quite this simple as thing like basket size have an impact too) will go a long way to determining how much your site makes. Despite this many website owners focus nearly all of the time on traffic generation and none or very little on improving conversion rates.

What Is The Conversion Rate?

Websites, like any other store, have visitors, a portion of whom become customers. Website owners can measure the number of visitors that are converted into customers by using a metric called the conversion rate. This is a variable expressed as a percentage, arrived at by dividing the number of customers into the number of visitors. The conversion rate tells the website owner how efficiently he is running his business. A high conversion rate can sustain an online business against fluctuating levels of Internet traffic. Improving this rate is critical to profitability and staying competitive.

A/B and Multivariate Testing

To raise the conversion rate, a website owner has to determine how he can change his site to persuade more visitors to complete a certain action. This action is the goal of the site, whether it is buying a product, ordering a service, signing up for a newsletter, taking a survey or some other action. It is possible to quantitatively test the site to discover precisely how these goals can be better met. Two popular methods are used to great effect when trying to take a site to the next level: A/B and multivariate testing.

A/B testing, also known as split testing, is the simpler method of the two. The site owner starts by focusing on a single element on one of his web pages. Items that can be tested may include images, headers, colors, text, footers, call-to-action buttons, graphics, size, position, layout and theme. A/B testing takes a single component and splits it into two variations. The first is left unchanged and used as a control. The second is changed in some way. Both versions are shown to an equal number of visitors simultaneously. Whichever version has the higher conversion rate wins.

Multivariate testing is much more sophisticated and has the potential to produce better results. This testing method is capable of taking several components, combining them into multiple variations and showing them all to visitors at once. This is far more accurate than A/B testing, since multivariate testing can conclusively demonstrate that a particular combination of variations is more popular with visitors. A/B testing, on the other hand, is limited by the fact that it focuses on one element at a time. Multivariate testing produces results that can be more readily verified as statistically significant.

Using Them Effectively

The best way to create and implement both A/B and multivariate tests is to use a tool like Google Website Optimizer. The results from A/B testing are less readily verifiable than multivariate results, but a good testing tool will be able to come up with reliable indicators. Multivariate testing has well-defined conditions that can inhibit the testing results. A low traffic volume distorts the results, while high performance shifts between variations can also decrease their effectiveness. A low conversion rate, somewhat of a catch-22, also biases the results. The higher the rate and traffic volume, while having low performance changes, produces the most reliable results.

Given that Google’s Website Optimizer is free and easy to use there’s not good reason not to run A/B and multivariate tests for your site. It could be the easiest way to grow your site’s profitability. You can read up further on how multivariate testing works plus other forms of split testing.