4 things to consider before starting AB Testing

Article written by Claudiu Murariu

Last week we had the opportunity to talk to Gregorry Ciotti, marketing strategist at Help Scout, and Sabina Idler, community manager, technical writer & UXer at Usabilla, about going beyond AB testing with your optimization strategy.

I often see conversion rate optimization campaigns starting with AB testing when they should end with it. Before deciding to take up an AB Test, here are some things you should consider:

1. Never fix something which is not broken


The feedback you receive from your website visitors is an important starting point in AB Testing. Instead of brainstorming about what looks best where, ask for feedback from your visitors. Remember that most people are reluctant to change and you should never try to fix something which is not broken. If it works, let it be.

Feedback is not only good to determine that something is wrong but it can also be a very good source for solution ideas. Furthermore, asking for feedback from your visitors shows that you value their opinion and it’s a good way to maintain a good provider-client relation.

Measure it!

Tools such as Google Analytics, Crazy Egg or Usabilla monitor the activity on your website and provide helpful insight and data about the profile of the everyday visitor. Use that information to really get to know your potential customers and increase sales and conversions.

If things are in fact broken and need to be fixed, write down the conversion rate you have now, preferably for different segments of traffic and set expectations objectives for the AB Test.

2. Apply some psychology


Although every individual is unique, psychological research has proven that most people pretty much stick to the same pattern and tend to pay attention to things like colors and contrast and line of sight. In this respect, color psychology proves to be an important marketing tool.

Colors trigger emotional and behavioral responses based on experiences, culture, religion, gender etc. This is the reason why visual identity is important to any website/brand: logo, colors, fonts, all contribute to a coherent and well established image. All these attributes should go hand in hand with the message you’re trying send and the audience you want to reach.

The story of the elephant is a perfect example for how people perceive design in different ways, according to their background, education and other such factors. The story teaches us important aspects that any marketer should be aware of:

  • People get discouraged when they have to do a lot of work. For example, while reading a long text, people lose interest, because there is so much information you can acquire. Of course, multi-tasking is out of the question.
  • People make mistakes. Always assume that people will make mistakes. That is why make sure the undo button is close.
  • Memory is a complicated thing. Don’t ask people to remember too many things because research shows they can all memorize 3-4 things at a time.

So, make sure you captivate, keep and sustain your users’ attention and don’t ask too much of them.

3. Do some quick remote user testing


Remote user testing is fast, easy and it should be a continuous process, taking place in all stages of development. Click analysis tools, Content analysis tools, Conversion analysis tools, targeted campaigns… you name it. The Internet provides you with a good amount of testing mechanisms that can help you build the best user-friendly online place.

Basically, remote user testing is a great way to get hints on how to improve your website.

Give it a try!

The five second test analyzes elements of design in your website and helps you polish your landing pages. Simply upload a screenshot and set some questions you want answered. Testers have only five seconds to view your image and then answer the questions you provided.

Visual online surveys allow you to find out what exactly people like or dislike about your website’s design. This can be really useful in early stages of design, as you can submit sketches and find out from the very beginning what elements need improvement.

Usertesting.com can be a bit pricey, but very efficient if it is what you need. You can choose how many participants you need for the test and in the end you will be provided with: a video of the participant speaking their thoughts as they perform your requested tasks and the participant’s written responses to your questions. And it all takes about an hour.

4. Define clear goals for the test

Before starting any test, ask yourself: what am I trying to fix with this AB Testing campaign? Of course, the ultimate goal is obtaining profit. But how do you get there?

Set both primary and secondary goals!

Setting a goal and planning for it gives you an idea about the short-term and long-term expectations, while pushing you to better organize your resources in order to get where you want.

One question you want to ask yourself is what else will be impacted by making the changes proposed for testing. These are the secondary goals triggered by the primary one: fixing the problem you identified. I’ve seen many people ignoring secondary goals and sometimes that can actually work against you.

The ultimate goal is to obtain profit, but that might not happen in the same visit when the person interacted with your test. Here is how I fix that:

  • Make sure to tag each order with the AB version presented to a visitor, even if it happened in the past and leave a test run at least a few weeks before deciding on a winner.

How about it? Ready for your AB Test?

4 things to consider before starting AB Testing by

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