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Benefit Online Business by Putting Your Faith In A/B Testing, Not Hunches or Instinct
Comparing two web pages against one another to see which performs best ought to be a simple procedure but there are right and wrong ways to get the job done. Making business decisions solely on instinct is risky so when A/B testing can ensure a better outcome, why not? What could be easier than showing half your audience one version and the other half another and then going with whichever one is most successful?
Simple testing provides solid evidence to work with, tells you exactly where fine-tuning is needed, and chances of success rise accordingly when you know more about what to expect from consumers. The flip side to that notion would be how much the chances of failure go up as well when decisions are based on what you think you know rather than the hard evidence this testing provides. In our data-driven world working strictly on a hunch, feelings or presumptions is often the beginning of the end for any type of business.
Is A/B Testing Really Worth the Effort?
Some testing can be as simple as changing color or altering formats just a bit and that may get you a few extra clicks and improve conversions but don’t settle for mediocrity. According to Forbes, when you really need to make it pay more than changing colors, or re-arranging text and visuals is required. Some will say marginal gains are better than none but when A/B testing is properly utilized the possible gains are so much more.
Bluntly speaking, not making full and proper use of a technique that’s already proven itself would be a shame and a waste of golden opportunities. Also, keep in mind that results on one study may be applicable in other areas that need improvement. The ripple effect of thorough A/B testing tends to spread in positive ways in directions you never expected. Knowledge is power and this kind of testing is where you find it.
Tested by Time and The Facts Don’t Lie
In modern times when most people think of A/B testing it’s to improve their chances for a successful online business. However, Harvard Business Review says this method is far older than the internet itself and has actually been around since at least the 1920s when biologist/statistician Ronald Fisher turned what is basically data comparison into a science. His experiments were agricultural, and by the 1950s scientists were using A/B testing in the medical field.
By the 60s and 70s it had become a valuable marketing tool in all manner of businesses. A/B testing as we know it today has been around since the 90s and after nearly a century an audience may be bigger thanks to the internet, but core concepts have not changed. The online environment and this method are perfect for each other. Without a way to know for sure what makes consumers register, click and buy business is more of a gamble than it has to be.
What to Avoid When Running An A/B Test
Testing needs to run its full course. A/B software allows you to see results in real time making it hard to resist premature decisions. The problem with “real-time optimization” and being able to make adjustments as data rolls in is that you are working with incomplete information. Letting a test run its full course could lead to totally different results and make you wish you had waited.
Trying to digest too much information at once risks what is known as “spurious correlations,” software that offers hundreds of metrics often isn’t as helpful as it appears to be. Results are better when you decide what you are looking for before you even begin and run just a few tests at one time. Doing this helps avoid the random fluctuations that appear when you try to measure too much at once.
Retesting is part of the process but not many people are willing to do it. The potential for a false positive error in A/B testing is always there and the only way to rule it out is by retesting. There are more complex, expensive ways to get more reliable data but when time is a factor A/B testing is a faster way to get the answers you need to move forward. Using this method gives you a chance to rethink an approach once the data is all in and time to try for even better results on another run.
Rather than gamble on fate or luck, give A/B testing a serious try and you’ll see exactly why so many others (including your competitors) have done so before you. You can use it to make small changes to a website many people probably won’t even notice or take advantage of the opportunity to impact your entire marketing strategy. It’s never a good idea to make decisions based on too little evidence or data. Simply put, the A/B testing method is the fastest way you’re going to get that evidence.