A/B Testing: What It Is, How to Use It, and What It Can Do for You

Like my blog? Sign-Up for a FREE newsletter! OR Give a ‘Like’ to my FaceBook Page

ab-testing-8961247You might have already heard of someone using something this technique called “A/B testing.” And if you’re still not using it yourself, then it’s about time you did. There’s a reason why it has grown to become one of the most widely used techniques in website optimization: it’s relatively simple, it actually works, and it will get you results. Chances are you’ve already been able to visit or access a site while it was in the middle of conducting an A/B test. Over time, you might visit certain sites regularly and while you may not notice it at first, you will eventually see that small changes have been implemented all over the pages that make visiting the site a better and more pleasing experience.
What Is A/B Testing? A/B testing or split testing is a technique that helps determine which of two possible versions can produce better results. It has a wide range of applications and can be used in website design, in email marketing campaigns, and in creating advertising materials. The name of the technique itself gives you a clear idea on what it’s actually all about: choices A and B will be presented to the test subjects, and the option that is chosen the most is deemed as the better one. The method, in itself, is extremely flexible, because you can choose to test one variable at a time or test out several elements at once. The former is generally recommended though, as it takes out the guesswork when it comes to determining the cause or reason why you were able to obtain such results.

How Is A/B Testing Done?

First of all, the variable or variables to be tested should be determined. You can create a wire frame of your website, email newsletters, or advertising materials so you can see which elements can be modified. To help speed up the process, you can rank these variables according to priority so you can decide which ones need to be tested first. After you’ve decided which variables to test, you can then proceed by creating the two variations that you want to try out. For websites, you can set up a script on your server that will display both versions of your site simultaneously to your visitors. You can also work with a third-party service provider to take care of carrying out the tests for you and interpret the results, if you prefer. For email newsletters or marketing campaigns, you can send one version out to a half of your mailing list, and send the other version to the remaining half. You can set this up easily using your email management software.


The Advantages and Disadvantages of Using A/B Testing There are many tests out there that you can employ for website optimization or for improving your conversions during your marketing campaigns. Most, however, require a higher degree of programming and analysis versus A/B testing.

The simplicity of the technique is what makes it convenient: it’s easy to implement, it’s easy to design, and the results that you obtain from it are also easy to analyze. In fact, you can set up and conduct the tests easily. You can even just use tools or services that are available online, like Google Website Optimizer. Google’s platform can be accessed for free online, and offers a range of services and tests with measurable results to help you improve your site.

However, the technique also has several limitations. Since its recommended that you only test one variable at a time, you will require a greater number of tests in order to optimize your entire site or campaign fully. This will result in inefficient data collection, because you will have to collect new batches of data for every succeeding test that you conduct.

About the Author: Ruben Corbo is a freelance writer and writes for a number of online marketing websites including those that help online businesses improve A/B testing techniques to increase sales conversions. When Ruben is not writing he’s producing or composing music for short films or other visual arts.

Image Credit: Stuart Miles , jscreationzs