The ABC’s of A/B Testing
The ABC’s of A/B Testing
Of the millions of websites that currently exist, regardless of size, purpose, or popularity, they all have one thing in common: they are alive. No, not in the same sense that a living organism is alive, but what they share with everything from plants to people, is that a website needs to be cared for.
Websites must be constantly nurtured and maintained to ensure that it continues to function as it was intended to function. A big part of that nurturing is Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO), which is the process of increasing the percentage of users or website visitors to take a desired action, which can be anything from making a purchase or downloading a PDF, to supplying your email or simply learning more about a particular subject. One of the most popular tools in the CRO toolkit is A/B testing.
What’s A/B Testing?
Simply put, A/B testing is a way to compare two versions of something to figure out which performs better. Utilizing A/B testing, to a large degree takes a lot of the guesswork out of CRO. However, without careful planning, analysis, and implementation, the potential benefits of an A/B test may be diminished by analytical errors and false assumptions.
The PeakActivity A/B Testing Process
With this in mind, PeakActivity has created a repeatable, six-step process designed to ensure that resources are correctly focused on high-impact tests that maximize return on investment:
At the foundation of any testing program are clearly defined objectives. What are you trying to achieve? And how will you measure success? Before running a single test, you’ll want to identify a primary business goal that aligns with the strategic goals of your executive leadership. You’ll also need to define a primary business goal metric or KPI, that you’ll use to measure success.
You’ve got your goal. Now, it’s time to gather research to inform and support your test. We pair quantitative and qualitative data to identify friction points in the customer journey. These friction points are blockers impeding your primary business goal. Once you understand your customers’ challenges, you can start to hypothesize solutions, which will form the foundation of your test.
Now that your Business Goal Metric has been established and potential blockers to that goal have been identified, the next step is to establish an official test hypothesis. A typical hypothesis is structured as an if-then statement. For example: “If we clearly call out the guest checkout option, then we will increase conversion by at least 2%.” How do you come up with your conversion goal, in this case, a 2% lift? We start by looking at the costs of running our test.
How much development and design time will be needed?
How many hours in planning meetings are required?
How much analytics work is needed?
Are we paying for an A/B testing tool?
Tests can cost, on average, between $5,000-$10,000. Each business is different, and each test will be different. The important thing is to understand the cost-benefit relationship. You need to prioritize and run tests that you think will get the greatest return.
Once your team is aligned on a clear hypothesis, it’s time to design a mock-up of your test experience. PeakActivity has a team of UX/UI experts who iterate prototypes for each test. They ground their work in industry best practices but aren’t afraid to combine them with out-of-the-box thinking to create robust, customer-centric designs.
Your winning prototype is ready to be coded into a previewable test experience. However, before you build, it’s important to understand the capabilities of your testing tool to make sure your design and hypothesis can be translated into an effective on-site experience. Once you’ve built your test, make time for rigorous quality assurance to ensure your tests don’t break other important features of your site. This takes time but is a valuable investment because your goal is to ease friction points, not create new ones.
Analyze & Learn
It’s time to present your findings and provide a clear, go-forward recommendation. Start with a quick recap of your hypothesis and success criteria, including your primary metrics. Review your learnings and offer clear, actionable next steps. This can mean development hours to put a now-proven user experience in place. Or, it might mean follow-up tests to build upon your initial findings.
It's Alive. It's ALIVE!
A website is an amazing thing. It never gets tired, never takes a vacation, and has zero interest in bingeing the latest show on Netflix. In fact, your website just might be the most committed member of your team. However, just like the human members of your team, your website also needs to be nurtured and cared for. So, show your website you care by giving it a little A/B testing. It’ll help grow your business and will almost certainly last longer than a bouquet of flowers.
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