What you should know about A/B testing (Part 1)

Written by Alex Harris

notebook pen and tablet

If you have heard about conversion rate optimization (CRO), chances are that you’ve heard about A/B testing as well. A/B testing, otherwise known as split testing, is an important step to determining the effectiveness of efforts at optimizing your website. That said, we will be discussing the basics of testing and will be providing sufficient details for you to understand it and how it can help you increase your conversions.

Split testing is the process of testing variations of a single page to determine whether the changes you have made or intend to make are giving you the results you want. Testing is vital as it provides you with the quantitative data that confirms or disproves your hunches about what works and what doesn’t. Similarly, it may also provide you, to a certain extent, with insights into why things do not work out.

Contrary to what many believe, A/B testing is not CRO. It is just part of the whole—a step in the process called conversion rate optimization. Think of it as the experimentation phase in the scientific method. It follows practically the same principles and provides results with very similar functions in the context of the whole process.

How is it done?

A/B testing makes use of two or more variants of the same page. The first page is the control, also called the champion page. This is your page before any changes have been made. You then create challenger pages—pages containing variations of your control page. For example, you want to determine if increasing the size of your headline affects your conversions. What you do is create a challenger page with a headline that is larger than that of your control page.

You then show Page A to 50 percent of your visitors and Page B to the other half. The percentages may vary depending on how many pages you are testing. In any case, make sure that the pages are exposed to same number of visitors. You then determine the conversion rate for every page. If, for example, Page B got more conversions, then enlarging the headline will most likely give you more conversions in the future. If Page A won, then you might just benefit more from retaining your page.

You can test more elements and repeat the process as often as you can. In fact, testing is encouraged as it allows you to continuously improve your website and have it adapt to changing trends and customer demands.

Do you have questions about CRO and AB testing? Contact me here.