You want to know whether clean-shaved face or bearded face make you become more attractive. What would you do to find out the answer? For those who are hesitating to make a decision, let’s try A/B test, it will give you the best answer.
I am just kidding, A/B test are not used for answering beard face question. Clean-shaved face or bearded face are just the simple example that I use to depicting the mechanism of A/B test. More complicatedly, A/B test is used to test changes to your page against the current design to evaluate the best version basing on customer’s opinions rather than the Highest Paid Person’s Opinion (HiPPO). If you are looking to increase revenue, sign-ups, social shares, or engagement, A/B testing and optimization are powerful tools which help you to achieve your goals. The best part of A/B is helping you get rid of internal opinions and gives you certain answer. A/B test can be used to test various parts which have affects to visitor’s behaviors, such as headlines, paragraph text, call to action text, call to action button, links, images, social proof, media mention adwards and badges, and etc.
For example, the goal of ComScore is generating more leads. Marketers believe that social proof can have positive impact on sales, so ComScore ran an experiment on their product pages to accomplish social proof. They want to change the design of their social proof, a customer quote. The original design displayed on a less-than-eye-catching grey background, because the quote was mixed among other content. They ran the experiment and tested 2,500 visitors with three variation website. They found out that Variation 1 was the strongest performance due to its conversion rate of the product pages increasing by 69%.
With A/B testing, by switching the shade of blue used on advertising links in Gmail and Google search, it helped Google earned an extra $200m a year in revenue. Does that sound cool to you? There are thousands and thousands businesses using A/B testing to get great bottom line results. A/B test play important role to contribute success to your goals. It gives you deeper insights about your visitor behavior. If you ask your visitors which version that they will like, and what they want to see on the website. They will give you a lie, because people do not know what they actually want. Observation through data is the only way and the best way to have right answer.
Do you know that just by simple experiment with Google Website Optimizer, Obama raised $60 millions? In 2008, Director of Analytics was considering which “Media” section and the call to action in splash page of Obama campaign can get the most attention of visitor. The Digital Analytics team tried four buttons and six different media. The four button are “sign up”, “sign up now”, “learn more”, and “join us now”. The goal that they set up is increasing sign-up rate, because they believe that every visitor to their website is an opportunity for them to raise fund and get supports.
Guess what? The best-performing combination of button and media was the “Learn More” button and the “Family” image. They got 11.6% of sign up rate, which means there is an improvement of 40.6% in sign-up rate in comparison to the original version. According to Dan Siroker, a Director of Analytics for the Obama 2008 campaign, each email address that was submitted through our splash page ended up donating an average of $21 during the length of the campaign. The additional 2,880,000 email addresses on email list translated into an additional $60 million in donations. It can be say that the website optimization and A/B testing brought huge success to Obama 2008 campaign.
Beside Dan Siroker, Amelia Showalter is also a genius who helps Obama do fundraising through emails in 2012. According Amelia Showwalter, the fundraising email was tested on multiple drafts and subject lines—often as many as 18 variations—before picking a winner to blast out to tens of millions of subscribers. She also used A/B testing to choose the best combination for the whole email. After reading Amelia Showwalter interview about what she performed during Obama campaign, it destroyed all of my thoughts about how fun to play around with variation A or B. The reason is you will not only testing two variations, the testing parts are more depending on your website elements.
Let’s imaging if you design a fashion website, like Zappos! For instance, your goals will be increasing in sales and customer phone calls to Zappos’s call center. Not only do you have to test from the ordinal to decoration of each element, but you also need to test on each model wear different products. For example, who will be more attractive to the buyers? Curly hair versus straight hair, or olive skin tone versus tan skin tone. Now, you can see the great workload of testing A/B in website. According to below Zappos website, you can see “24/7 Customer Service” and the phone number line on the top of page. Is that a coincidence? I believe it is not. Every element of this page is placed purposively. 24/7 Customer Service is the proud and famous culture of Zappos. Zappos wants people to call them. That is the reason why they place 24/7 Customer Service in the easy eye-catching place. If you check other fashion websites, such as Forever 21, Zara, or H&M, you will never see the phone number of the company in the website, even in the bottom of the website. Why? Because they do not want you to call them. To have a nice, clean and attractive website like Zappos.com, I believe Zappos digital team had to try a lot of different versions to get the ultimate version.
The possible assertion is that A/B testing is not the easy process, because it requires a great amount of time as well as patience and creativeness.
Through Obama 2008 campaign, a big lesson for business is every visitor to your website is an opportunity. The more we attract them with our digital marketing communication, the closer to the goal we will reach. Therefore, we should take advantages of that opportunity through website optimization and A/B testing. It costs a lot of efforts and time to run experiment, but it is not complete waste of time as most people thought. Instead, you will gain huge benefits and great payback. Everything has its price!