The performance of your WordPress website hinges on how well its individual elements work together to form a cohesive user experience.
You can often achieve better results by implementing slight changes to things like the design of a page, its text copy, or its underlying structure.
However, you still need a way to figure out how these changes are impacting your WordPress website, and this is where A/B testing comes into the picture.
Also known as split testing, this procedure allows you to determine which among several versions of your website is performing the best.
A/B testing is a technique frequently used by web designers and digital marketer because it is a means of acquiring actionable data, which in turn helps you tune up your site for better performance.
To find out more about how A/B testing works, what are its benefits, and how you should go about setting it up for your own website, take a look at our short guide on the topic in the rest of this post.
A/B Testing Basics
At its core, A/B is a relatively straightforward process. It boils down to creating two (or more) different versions of a given web page, and then presenting one of them at random to each visitor.
Usually one page will be more effective at accomplishing its goal, such as driving visitors to read a piece of content, click on an ad, or subscribe to an email newsletter.
So for example, page A might have a red subscribe button, and page B a green one.
When someone clicks on a URL pointing them to the page, they will get redirected to either A or B without their explicit knowledge, to ensure no bias is involved.
After a number of these tests, the owner of the website can then determine which of the two pages performed better, and they might decide to keep the superior one.
It lets you measure the impact of the changes you made on your website without depending on publishing new contents and just hopping them to work.
This process allows you to make changes much faster and determine the best approach quickly.
A/B tests can utilize any number of different page elements. In practice however, few website owners have the time and resources to test every page element.
Unless you are running a massive website such as Amazon, this is not much of an issue.
Not all elements are created equal – the font choice of an obscure button is less likely to impact the overall performance of a page than the length of the text copy, or the main heading.
Some of the most common elements used in A/B testing include:
- Headlines – the more enticing they are, the better the odds that visitors will get interested enough to spend more time on page
- Ad Placement – for finding out whether visitors are more likely to click on banners at the top, the bottom, or the sides of a page
- Calls-To-Action – to see what kind of prompt is better at pushing visitors through the conversion funnel
- Design Elements – for determining which layouts, fonts, or colors provide a better user experience
- Text Content – some visitors prefer long-form content, others like reading quick digests, and you should know who you ought to appeal to
- Contact Forms – adequately gauging how much personal information visitors wish to share is critical amidst growing privacy concerns online
- Funnels– If you are aiming to get more visitors from one page to the next, testing funnels like checkout or signup page process can be done
- Mobile site– to generate more conversion and revenue, optimizing mobile site is must and testing various versions is a part of the optimization
- Social icons– to know what style of social media icons appeals more to your audience while sharing your information and contents
- Pricing– To identify the right pricing point and drive more number of visitors to make a purchase. This is critical A/B testing area.
Benefits Of Testing
While testing can also be done for theoretical purposes, or out of sheer curiosity, most website owners will want to do it order to receive some tangible benefit.
Changing a single page element after a round of testing is not likely to make much of a difference, but if you commit to performing A/B testing on regular basis, you will start to see measurable benefits, such as:
1. Lower Bounce Rates
Your website’s bounce rate is the percentage of visitors that abandon your site without taking any action after they arrive.
A high bounce rate is an indicator that a lot of people are leaving your site without checking out other pages, or reading your content.
A/B testing can help you determine which page elements might be the cause of inflated bounce rates, which is information you can then use to improve them.
2. Improved Engagement
Engagement is everything online. The more involved your site visitors are with your brand, the more likely they’ll be to convert into customers down the line.
By opting to use A/B testing, you will have a way of accurately measuring how engaged visitors are with your WordPress website.
Testing CTA buttons, forms, and other interactive elements of a web page are essential for determining and improving engagement levels.
3. Higher Conversion Rate
Conversion rate is the ultimate indicator of how well your website is performing.
The more visitors you turn into leads, and eventually into customers, the greater ROI will be. Top web design companies frequently use A/B testing for conversion rate optimization.
It allows you to see how each page element comes together to nudge visitors towards becoming customers.
4. Multiple Functional Areas
A/B testing helps you to identify what your site visitors will and will not like when they land on your website.
So many users believe that A/B testing is mostly applied on different type of forms, images or contents.
However, you can simply A/B test almost any of your marketing campaigns and its materials both offline and online.
A/B testing is the easiest and the fastest way to determine what is working and what is not.
5. Simplified Analysis
One of the most acknowledged benefits of A/B testing is, its simple, real and factual results.
When you are analyzing the data from an A/B test, it becomes a lot easier and straight forward to determine the YES and NO.
You can simply use clear metrics like conversion, session time etc.
How To Set Up Testing Through Google Analytics
The most common way of setting up A/B testing is to utilize the Content Experiments feature in Google Analytics.
To prepare your WordPress website for testing, you first need to install one of the many available plugins. Next, you need to sign up for Google Analytics, if you haven’t done so already.
Finally, you need to prepare the pages you will be testing. Once these preparatory steps are taken care of, you can move on to setting up the actual tests. The process consists of the following five steps:
- Sign in to your Google Analytics account, and continue to the Experiments sub-page. Here you will need to provide the URL that points to your original page. Click the Create Experiment button to proceed.
- You now need to set an objective for your A/B test. You can use an existing objective, if you already had one set up in Google Analytics, or you can create one from scratch. Objectives are used to measure the performance of your test.
- The next step is to submit the page variants that will be used for testing. Make sure that all the pages you submit are online and accessible to the public. A standard practice is to only vary a single page element in order to get more precise results.
- Next, you will be provided with a snippet of code which you need to add to the header section of your WordPress website, which is done by simply copying and pasting the code into the header.php file.
- Finally, click the Next button and let Google Analytics verify that the code was successful added to the website, and then press Start. This will launch the actual test.
And that is basically it. Visitors to the original page will start getting redirected to one of the variations, and some will be shown the original page as well.
Upon return visits, they will get redirected to the same page, provided they have cookies enabled in their browser.
It will take a while before Google Analytics will start providing the test data. Based on your objectives, Google Analytics will tell you which variation is performing the best.
A/B testing is a powerful tool for measuring the effectiveness of your WordPress website.
It will enable you to see how each page element contributes to your conversion goals.
Regular A/B testing will ensure that you are always running the best possible version of your website.
And the best part is that it can be done practically for free.
However, A/B testing can sometimes backfire if not done correctly.
So you must ensure to apply A/B testing best practices while you are using this tool.