Most things that are complicated in business require testing. That may be as simple as the local supermarket testing different promotional offers during different weeks to see what cuts through. Or it may be as complex as a commercial electrician performing circuit board testing on a highly specialised pieces of equipment that controls the signals on a busy freeway.
In the digital world, testing is just as important. Enormous companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon all employ thousands of engineers and other staff to do constant testing on their websites, apps and services to squeeze out every bit of efficiency that can.
But there is another, less commonly understood form of testing that these businesses undertake. It’s called A/B testing. And it is an incredibly powerful tool. Without testing, businesses are just guessing what website layout, offers and landing pages work best or will appeal the most. So the process of designing a website is less scientific and more driven by gut feel and experience.
There is a better way. And that way is A/B testing. A/B testing is very simple. It basically involves having two different versions of the same web page. That allows a small change to be made to one (the tested page) and one to be left as the original (the control page). That way, the effect of a particular change can be observed and measured as different users interact with the page.
A Real World Example
An example of an A/B test in the real world can be seen if we take the example of an Italian restaurant. One chef believes that a menu with a higher number of vegetarian and seafood options will generate more sales, and more profits. The other believes that a traditional pizza and pasta menu will be superior. Each makes good arguments.
To make a data-driven decision, the manager decides to create two menus. In week 1 and week 3 of the next month the ‘seafood and vegetarian’ menu will be used. In week 2 and 4, the ‘traditional’ menu will be used. At the end of the month, the data should show which menu outperformed after costs are taken into account.
In this example, the week 1 and 3 menu would the be ‘A’ test and the week 2 and 4 menu would be the ‘B’ test.
Suggestions for A/B Tests
Now that you understand the concept, you might be wondering what sorts of things you could apply this principle to. The answer is ‘just about anything’ but here are some suggestions:
- The colour scheme of your website (e.g. neutral tones or a bright, light look)
- The text (e.g. the ‘call to action’ that you use to try and get customers to call / book / buy
- The use of videos (e.g. to see if placing videos on your web pages increases time on the website or if they are ignored)
- The number of menus (i.e. does more information help or hinder your goals)
- Pricing (self explanatory)
- The use of free trials / offers (e.g. whether free shipping, free trials result in more contacts and leads)