A/B Testing, or split testing, is the best way to determine the best performing version of a web page. When you make a change to your website it should always be based on data. That is why testing different variations of a page with A/B testing is so important.
There are several different A/B testing tools available. I usually use Google Analytics Content Experiments because it is easy and free to use. You can test up to 10 variations of a landing page with Google Experiments. Just create the different page variations on your website, then set up the test in Google Analytics to randomly send traffic to each page variant.
Sometimes I prefer to use other A/B testing tools, like Optimizely, when changing small elements on a page. With Optimizely I can quickly change the color of a button without creating a new landing page on my website. But Optimizely is not free and can get pricey. I will discuss the pros and cons of Google Experiments vs Optimizely another time.
You should always define your goal before starting any A/B test. Ask yourself what problem are you trying to solve? What part of my page needs improvement? Some popular A/B testing goals include:
Now that you have defined your goal, it is time to set up your test variations. One variation of the page will always be the original version. You can create up to 9 more pages on your website that test different hypotheses and page elements. Here are some ideas of page elements to test to help achieve your goal:
Log into your Google Analytics account and navigate to Behavior > Experiments.
Fill out all the required fields in this first step of the Google Content Experiments setup.
Enter the URL of the original (control) page. This is the existing page on your website that you want to improve. Then enter the URLs of all the new variation pages. To add another variation, click the Add Variation link. Once you have entered your URLs for the original and variation pages, a preview will appear to the right of the URLs. If the page preview generates correctly and everything looks good, save your changes and move onto the next step.
Once you have configured the experiment you can insert the experiment code onto the website. You can insert the code two ways:
Once you have set up and validated your experiment code, you will see check marks on the review page. Click Start Experiment to launch your Google Content Experiment!
Now that your test has launched, you can monitor the results of your experiment by going back to the left-hand navigation in Google Analytics under Behavior > Experiments. As soon as data starts to come in, you will see a bunch of line graphs measuring the performance of each variation.
It is important to remember that many tests will fail. Although it is easy to get discouraged when your tests dont work out as planned, dont give up! Use the findings from one A/B test to inform your next one.