Let’s face it. As clever as we all are, we do not always get it right first time. The best way of learning is by trying something and improving upon it. A child learns how to walk by falling over a lot until they figure out what works best. Some of the best business lessons I have learned have been through making mistakes and being able to improve on where I went wrong.
Split testing, also known as A/B testing, is a means of conducting experiments to improve the efficiency of your website. With so many businesses becoming increasingly reliant on web traffic, it pays to ensure that your site is generating the right results.
If you’re looking to use split testing in your design agency, here’s a useful guide to benefit your agency.
This is a long article so here goes. Split testing allows you to work out what works on a website and what doesn’t. This allows you to make improvements to get the desired result. You can use tools to do this such as:
This technique allows you to improve your own site as well as provide it as a service to help improve your client results!
There…. you don’t really need to read the rest, although I do recommend you deep dive with me a little to help you unpack more of the benefits and strategies.
What is split testing?
Split testing is a means of testing different metrics to improve your website. If you run a design agency, you can use A/B testing not only to develop your own site, but also to benefit your clients. Split testing involves undertaking a series of experiments of randomised and controlled trials to determine what your customer wants and make improvements to your website.
To put it into a simple example, does a green button convert better than a red button?
When you carry out split testing, you compare a control to a single or several variations and then analyse the results. The data produced in the report should help make the relevant changes needed to get the output you desire.
For example, more email subscribers, more leads or more products sold. So if we find a green button converts better, we can make the relevant change to the website and make it permanent.
How you can use split testing to improve your website
Consider yourself as a consumer for a minute. You have a range of options in front of you. Some are going to appeal to you more than others. Without any data from a split testing exercise, you might assume that your site is wonderful and that it delivers on every level.
Split testing may prove otherwise, and the information you obtain by analysing data and looking at results will enable you to make positive changes.
It may also allow you to avoid “rebuilding the website”. We are all guilty of this. We launch our site, we get limited to no leads within a few weeks and we already hate what we’ve created! We assume we did everything wrong and we start over. Don’t doom yourself to the never-ending cycle of re-building your agency website, use simple testing to work out what the small tweaks are you need to make!
If your site is more effective, this is likely to boost your lead conversion rates, and ultimately, increase your profits. Testing different elements within the existing site will save you all that extra rebuild time! I wish I’d have listened to this advice 3 websites ago!
There’s a huge amount of competition out there, and it takes a web user a matter of seconds to form an opinion when they visit a site. If they don’t like the look of the homepage or a landing page they’ve arrived at from a search engine query, for example, they won’t hang around to check out the rest of the site. They’ll move on, and you might never get the chance to try and impress that customer again. If you can carry out tests, this will reduce the risk of failing at the first hurdle and enable you to create a site that is going to turn heads.
When can split testing be used?
Split testing is hugely versatile, and there’s a TONNE of variations that can be modified and adapted to suit every type of business.
That said, let’s get you started with a list of elements you could be testing today:
- Website copy
- Page / blog titles
- Call to action wording
- Call to action colours and design
- Supporting imagery
- Page layouts
You might not think that minor elements on a WordPress site make a difference, but split testing results may prove otherwise. When thinking about what to test, focus on features or aspects that are likely to have an influence on your customer.
Split testing metrics
To be able to read the data effectively and select the appropriate changes, you need to have established what your desired outcome is per test. For example:
- Clicks on a call to action
- Actual sales of a product
- Longer time on page
- Interaction with a specific media element
- Subscription or form fill
These desired outcomes dictate what you track, and how you read the data. For example, you might notice that visitor clicks have increased, but the conversion rate is still relatively low. Remember, your first test may not provide conclusive results, therefore be prepared to create new iterations to help produce clearer results.
Be sure to provide a realistic time line for your testing. For example, a few weeks will provide much more reliable data than a few days for low traffic websites. If you have a high traffic site, you can set shorter test times if you are against the clock for making improvements.
So when setting up your tests, be sure you are clear on what you will be tracking as your measure of success. Be prepared to give it time. If the results are not clear, iterate and give it some more time and extend the length of the test.
Adding split testing as a third-party service
If you run a design agency, it’s natural to want the best results for our clients. Split testing is a tried and tested method of improving websites, which contributes to a whole host of positive implications for businesses.
You can use split testing not only to boost your own track record, but also to benefit your clients.
If you can offer split testing as a third-party service, for example, this could help to ensure you stand out from the crowd and make your clients feel like they’re being looked after. After all you are not providing a fixed service based on assumptions, but instead a build that is based on real activity and results.
Benefits that set you apart:
- Design based on real data
- Better conversions
- Flexible design/development to meet their objectives
Please note, however, you should only be offering this from a position of experience. Be sure to invest time with your own websites first, and consider doing some tests with clients being open that you are exploring how split testing can benefit them and other clients.
It’s always wise for our own sanity as well as the quality of our work to ensure we provide services that we are confident on. (I’ve learned that the hard way quite a few times).
Tools for split testing
We’ve found no WordPress specific split testing plugin that gives us the data or the flexibility we need to work with our themes or the visual frameworks we implement for our clients. So here is a list of SaaS services that are way more flexible and provide great reporting. We’ve ordered the list in order of ease of use.
Join the conversation
Do you already use split testing? What tools do you use? Can you share a win? Let’s have a conversation in the comments below.