A/B Testing – A Smarter Way to Drive Higher Conversions

Kyle Rush, Deputy Director of Frontend Web Development at Obama for America said, “Overall we executed about 500 A/B tests on our web pages in a 20 month period which increased donation conversions by 49% and sign up conversions by 161%.” This is a classic example of A/B testing also commonly known as split testing.

Though this is not a standalone example of A/B testing leading to a huge success. The formula for the ecommerce retail giant Amazon’s success is also testing and only testing, “There is nothing at Amazon which has not been tested.”  Starting from the product page design to the call to action buttons, checkout process to their delivery and return process, everything has gone through multiple split tests. Not only Amazon, most of the marketers & ecommerce sites nowadays, have turned to A/B testing to identify the most performing option for a variable in their site design and retail process for increased leads and better conversion. For sites with a lot of traffic, A/B testing is the quickest way to iterate and improve. Let’s start with the most common A/B testing variables for ecommerce companies.

A/B testing

A/B Testing Checkout Process

Checkout plays a crucial role in the successful completion of an online transaction. It ultimately optimizes overall conversion rate and turnover for an ecommerce business. Unfortunately, around two in every three shopping carts get abandoned by the customers before completing their transactions. We have earlier discussed multiple reasons for shopping cart abandonment, not so user-friendly checkout process being one of them.

You’ll get ample tips available online for designing an effective checkout including and the best practices; but the problem is, no marketer can tell what will be the best suitable process for your business without running an A/B test and trying out multiple variations.

To carry out the test process, you start by equally dividing your traffic and diverting them to the two different test page versions. After running this test for a particular period of time, you can come to your own top performing solution by comparing the results of one to another. Even you can also test single page checkout Vs. multiple-step checkout process for your business.

A/B testing

For example, take a look at the case study on PayPoint.net. They found that by doing small changes in the details page of the checkout process resulted into a staggering 159% increase in their overall conversion rate. Now that is something really huge, isn’t it?

A/B testing

A/B Testing Call to Action Button

Calls to Action buttons are extremely critical for the ecommerce sites to achieve maximum conversion.  Naturally, they are high on priority list for the A/B testing plans. As per reports, 71% of the ecommerce businesses test their call to action buttons.

Multiple factors constitute a single ‘Call to Action’ button. For example, what should be the correct text for it? What is the best suitable color for the button, most accurate size, shape, design and placement on the site? Of course it’s important to know about the industry best practices, but it’s mandatory to A/B test different variants of the call to action buttons for your site to achieve maximum benefit from doing this right. Only then you can say which one will work better for you.

There are few factors you should play with in order to experiment with your Call to action button to get the best results.

Testing CTA Text

Calls to action texts plays an important role in inducing the customers take an immediate action. You can try out relevant CTA texts like, ‘Buy Now’, ‘Add to Cart,’ ‘Add to Basket’ etc. You can also try out something different which others in your industry are not doing; who knows it may work wonders for you.

Highrise’s CTA text is a good example in this context. As per Jason Fried, “they tested various phrases on the Highrise homepage for the call-to-action button. They originally had used various permutations of “Free Trial” and “Sign-up for Free Trial”. Then they tested the phrase: “See Highrise Plans and Pricing”

This resulted in a 200% increase in sign-ups. That’s right. 200%.”

Testing Call-to-Action Buttons

Testing the Button Design

Design of the button helps in attracting more and more eye balls. There are two major factors in the button design, the color and the size.

Button Color

According to few industry surveys, Red buttons work better than the Green ones, whereas for some businesses the Green buttons have proved to be extremely well as the color of a CTA button in comparison with the Blue buttons. But at the same time blue worked very well for Gmail.

Though “Gmail once tested 50 shades of blue for their CTA color and found the highest converting shade”. So you can’t outrightly choose or discard a color on your whims & fancy, you need to test it before giving a go ahead on it.

Now a days, a big chunk of ecommerce sites are using orange as the color of their CTA button.  To know which one suits you best you have to run an A/B test with multiple button colors and check which one is turning up to be the best for you.

You can’t blindly go by the experts’ suggestions. The button has to go with the design and color scheme of your own site too.

Button Size

The size of the button is also no less important. It should be large enough to be prominent but again depends on the design scheme of the whole page. For many businesses, big buttons work very well to attract the customer’s attention whereas many of the top sites have managed to get the highest turnover with a slim and slick button too.  Amazon is the best example in this regards. They have a slick yellow CTA button reading ‘Add to Basket’. It’s not though jumping out to the customers but standing out prominently while mingling well with the rest of the page design.

Button Placement

Lastly, the placement of the button is also equally important as the other two parameters above. Again you have to test the design placing the button in different places. You can place the button on the left, middle or at the right bar, but do test to achieve the highest conversion.

A rule of thumb for the CTA button placement is to have one above the fold. You can also have it right below the first fold or even have an additional button in the second fold along with one in the first fold. But, again you have to A/B test the options to know what works best for you.

TIP: If there’s a call to action for your website — make it obvious. Most of the sites choose to include one CTA button.

Split Testing Email Campaigns

Emails are extremely important for the retail businesses. As per the stats by Direct Marketing Association, “Email has an ROI of around 4,300%”. Email marketing is the best form of marketing for both big & small businesses. The reason behind some people saying “email marketing is dead” is because they are making some major email marketing mistakes and not testing their campaigns, and naturally failing to improve on it.

The marketers generally create multiple email campaigns for different purposes. For example, promotional emails, regular email newsletters, transaction emails, emails for shopping cart recovery  and so on. To avoid unnecessary expenditure and achieve maximum ROI, email campaigns should be tested on different parameters and variety of factors. For instance, subject lines are extremely important for email campaigns; marketers should test the content, tone, length etc. of an email to get the best response. Similarly the email content, design, graphics and of course the timing, frequency etc. are very important factors in determining a campaign’s success. To decide upon the email campaign strategy, A/B testing is the best way to determine which of the emails will get the best response and result into higher conversion.

To split test, the marketers can divide their audience into two groups, and craft two different emails catering to one single topic. Also decide up on the particular timing and frequency for each email. Afterwards, see the campaign responses and compare the open rate, click through rates etc. to get a clear picture immediately.

Tip: Remember to decide up on one particular parameter, on the basis of which the effectiveness of the campaign will be judged. It may happen one of the campaigns have got a higher open rate whereas the other have generated more click through on the call to action. In this case, if your test parameter was click through rate, the second email variant is a clear winner. Always test one element at a time when A/B testing.

A/B testing is absolute worth your time and dime; it shows you how even the tiniest of the tweak in your design can directly affect the overall sales of your site. In fact, “For 2 years running, A/B testing is the most used method for improving conversion”. So, leave the guesswork and let real data tell you what is working for you and what’s not.

We would love to hear your own A/B testing results that turned the table for you. Please drop a comment to let us know.

2 Comments »

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