Every website has a goal. It may be to get people to buy some products, sign up for a newsletter, look at advertisements, or any number of things. But how do you know if your site is properly optimized to give you the best return on your investment?
Should you use blue or green for the “Add to Cart” button?? Which product picture encourages more people to purchase that item? What’s the best wording to get your message across on the homepage?
Even the most subtle of changes can have dramatic influences on the performance of your site. You may not know it, but some of your design or functionality decisions on your site may be costing you in lost sales.
Enter A/B testing
Split testing, or A/B testing, allows you to test all these different variables. You’ll be able to see if they influence whether or not one of your website visitors converts into a customer.
A/B tests operate on a simple premise: you show half of your visitors one option, and the other half the other. Then you monitor the performance of each to understand how they affect your business goals.
How to start using A/B tests on your website
The first step is to identify the objective you wish to improve. Then start brainstorming some ideas that you might want to try out to see if they will have an effect on sales. There’s no shortage of things that you can test.
If your goal is to sell more t-shirts, you might want to test alternative product page layouts with the “Add to Cart” button higher on the page. If you’re trying to get people to sign up for your monthly newsletter, maybe you should style the “Sign Up” form differently to give it more prominence on the page.
There are software applications that make implementing and tracking your A/B tests very easy. Both GoogleWebsiteOptimizer and VisualWebsiteOptimizer exist to make this as painless a process as possible. Once you start making changes and seeing the improvements with your site, you won’t want to stop.
Real life case studies
It’s surprising sometimes to see how big the effects of these changes can be. Google and Amazon have implemented A/B testing to improve their bottom line by millions of dollars every year. Thousands of small businesses have used split testing to reap the rewards also.