Last Updated on September 10, 2020
To Simply & Effectively Convert
A/B Testing, also called, split testing, is essential for optimization. Maintaining and updating a website is an iterative journey, not a destination. There are always incremental improvements to increase online sales conversions. Additionally, SEO is constantly changing (Google made hundreds if not thousands of changes to their algorithm during 2013). I’ll share some A/B Testing ideas you can implement using Google Analytics Experiments.
Every Page is a Landing Page
A/B testing is a technique often used to improve online advertising (AdWords or PPC) landing pages. That makes perfect sense if you’re spending hard marketing dollars to generate leads and convert them into customers. However, every web page or blog page on your website is a landing page.
For example, this page focuses specifically on A/B testing. Perhaps you asked Google (or another search engine) about “A/B testing or split testing best practices.” After reviewing the SERP results, you clicked on this article to find answers. As a result, you “landed” or entered our website on this page. See… any page is a landing page, and therefore could benefit from testing techniques shared below.
Test Visuals & Their Placement
Humans are visual creatures. We respond to images. Hopefully, you’re styling web content to strategically use images so pages are pleasing to the eye and easy to scan. By using A/B testing practices, determine which images improve your website stats (e.g., length of stay on a page, forms filled, bounce rate, additional pages viewed). We suggest testing out various types of visuals to see which ones improve visitor engagement, including:
- call to action button placement and colors
- graphics vs. photographs
- important content featured in color blocks
This is where you can find out what draws your target market in and keeps their attention. If you include images of people, try different genders, ages, and ethnicity as these can be powerful signals about your business’ brand.
Calls To Action & Sales Funnel
A “Buy Now!” button may not be the appropriate call to action on a top-level navigation page when a newcomer is checking you out for the first time. What is your business sales flow? Do prospects typically view specific types of content (like general educational pages) first and then dig deeper into features, benefits, and pricing?
Each stage of your sales funnel should have a clear and corresponding call to action. Test out various offers to measure what gets the most goals (e.g., phone calls, web forms, purchased products, newsletter sign-ups). Here are some CTA ideas:
- wording for the same offer (e.g., Call for a No-Obligation Appointment vs. Call Us Now)
- shapes, colors and hover behavior of CTA buttons to test contrast to the rest of the page
- icons vs. text
- location of CTA buttons on the page (e.g., upper right for desktop visitors, middle of page for mobile users)
- pages with and without sidebars to test banner blindness on desktop (it’s moot on mobile devices)
Forms A/B Testing
A/B testing on forms is an excellent way to improve completion rates… which in turn affects sales leads. Are your forms cumbersome? Even if your form has a 6% conversion rate (average is typically 3%), you may still be leaving money on the table. Test variations of the form, including colors, how fields are organized, etc. We find the simpler the forms with the least amount of required fields fare better. Google Analytics experiments will help you find a winner. Once the experiment is done, start on your next experiment. Rinse and repeat. A/B testing is about making incremental changes to further optimize a website’s user experience and thus sales conversions.
A/B testing also applies to content. You can try different headlines, subheads, bulleted lists and copy variations. Again, refer to Google Analytics for insight on your content’s performance. Determine which are your best and worst performing pages. Then, make adjustments to lengthen the time spent on a page and completed goals (e.g., corresponding CTA).
Additional Insights with Heat Maps & Visitor Recordings
If you’re serious about testing your landing pages, then add heat maps to your digital marketing toolkit. A heat map shows where visitors click, displaying data on a page with varying temperatures (red for hot, oranges and yellow for lukewarm, blue for cold). For example, if visitors view your CTA button (the area will be warm) but you won’t see clicks in the area.
Have you used A/B testing for your website? How did you improve performance?
Photo credit – Bottom image: Amit Agarwal