August 7, 2008
Split testing is also known as A/B testing. It is the process of taking one page (your control or page A) and then creating another page (page B) with one single change and then driving equal traffic to both pages to see which page gets a better result.
I love split testing because it takes the guess work out of your marketing. I really love it when testing proves me wrong – it’s a great way to learn and it improves my results. If I were to just go with what I had thought would win, I would be constantly getting lower results than I can now get with my new page which has proven to pull better results.
Recently this happened, I created a sales page (page A) with a great headline, and then I created my page B with a different headline in place. I had fully expected my page A to win. But it didn’t!
The truth is we just don’t know how the market is going to respond and even with proven marketing concepts in place and great copy, we just can’t predict the response. With testing, we don’t need to predict. We can accurately and scientifically determine what is going to work and improve our results.
Think about it, you are running various campaigns and driving traffic to various pages anyway. Why not get the most out of those pages and increase your response without increasing your expenses?
Here is a quick and simple breakdown of how to split test:
Step One: Identify a page with an offer on your website that you would like to test.
Step Two: Create another variation of that same offer (in order for an A/B test to be accurate you can only change one thing on the page)
Step Three: Place your split testing software code on your site, and drive traffic to the pages.
Step Four: Review the results and determine which page was the winner. That page is your new control page, and you can now create a new page B to test something else. The idea is you keep testing and keep improving the results.
You can test anything, but here are some of the most common things to test:
- Pricing (example: $9.95 versus $12.95)
- Headline color (example red versus blue)
- Headline text
- Header graphic versus no header graphic
There are so many testing softwares out there, but I’m really surprised there hasn’t been more discussion about Google Website Optimizer. It’s such a great tool – and it’s free!
For those of you that don’t know, Google Website Optimizer allows you to split test (and even multivariate test your pages). Typically if you want to split test you have to buy expensive software that requires installation and configuration. With Google WebSite Optimizer it is so simple. You simply set up the 2 pages, paste the URLs into Google and then add some code to the pages that Google provides. You can be up and running and split testing in no time.
If you aren’t currently split testing, I guarantee you aren’t getting the maximum benefit out of your website and you need to start!
Jennifer Horowitz is the Director of Marketing for EcomBuffet.com. Since 1998 Jennifer’s expertise in marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has helped clients increase revenue. Jennifer has written a downloadable book on SEO and has been published in many SEO and marketing publications. Jennifer is the editor of the popular Spotlight on Success: SEO and Marketing newsletter. Follow Jennifer and stay current on SEO, marketing, social media and more. http://twitter.com/EcomBuffet