A quick guide to A/B testing

The goal of digital marketing is to drive conversions. That could mean getting someone to open an email, register for your newsletter, or download a piece of content from your website. And while there are countless factors that will affect whether or not someone takes a particular action, as a SaaS marketer, your job is to figure out what you can do to get the best results. Although it might be tempting to follow your instincts about what subject heading to use or what color to make your next call-to-action button, gut feelings aren’t enough to predict what will make your potential audience click and convert. Instead, you’ve got to use A/B testing to optimize everything that you do.

A/B testing is a data-driven process that takes the guesswork out of digital marketing. It’s about testing different factors that influence people’s decisions, such as messaging and design, to see what gets the best results. That way, you optimize everything you create over time and ultimately increase engagement while driving more conversions. In this post, we’ll look at some of the ways that you can start implementing A/B testing at your organization. 

Figure out what you want to test for

A/B testing helps marketers see how one version of a piece of content performs alongside another. Since there’s an endless array of things you could choose to do A/B testing on, it’s important to narrow your focus down to just one independent variable at a time. That might be the design, wording, or layout of a landing page, or the very first sentence you write in an email. Even seemingly simple changes, such as choosing a slightly different image, adjusting your tone of voice, or using a different font can make a big difference in terms of whether or not people do what you want them to.

Run a test with a control and a challenger

To run an A/B test, you’ll need to create two different versions of whatever you’re testing that are identical except for that single variable. Switch around more than one variable in a single test, and you’ll have no clear way of knowing which, if any, impacted your results. The original version is known as the control while the other slightly different version is the challenger.  

Both versions should then be simultaneously sent to two different audiences of the same size so that you have an apples-to-apples comparison from which to judge which performs better over a set period of time. Timing is crucial for accurate A/B testing. Even sending the control and challenger out at different times of the same day could give you an inaccurate picture of how they perform against each other.

While most marketing automation platforms have A/B testing tools built into them, there are other standalone tools that you can use to help such as Optimizely or VWO

Give the test enough time to produce useful data

To get the best results from A/B testing, you need to let your tests run long enough to get a substantial sample size. If you don’t, you won’t be able to tell if there is a statistically significant difference between your control and your challenger content.

If you deploy two different website banners, for example, unless you have a highly trafficked site, it may take several days or even weeks to get meaningful results. Meanwhile, if you’re A/B testing the subject line of an email, you could have an answer within an hour or two. For that reason, it’s important to have a strategy and identify which tests you want to undertake and how long it should take to get meaningful results.

Analyze the results

Once you’ve collected enough data, you’ll want to see if one landing page, email, or color works significantly better than another. If it does, go ahead and deploy it. If it doesn’t, you may want to run a different test. Ultimately, to use A/B testing effectively, you want to run tests over and over again, systematically evaluating what works and what doesn’t so that you can optimize every element of your marketing.You can glean vast insights from A/B testing that you can use to inform almost everything that you do. 

Ultimately, if you’re serious about elevating your SaaS marketing, then A/B testing is going to be critical to getting the best results. Knowing exactly how your content is performing and constantly refining it based on solid data will give you the competitive edge that you need.