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  • Writer's pictureBenjamin

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Updated: Mar 25, 2023

Which headline ultimately gets you sales?

While the difference in engagement may seem small, a few percentage points can be extremely important to your bottom line.

Across thousands of views, a few percentage points leads to dozens of more meetings and some meaningful deals.

A/B testing draws on scientific principles to drive effective marketing. In a recent survey, 74% of respondents who used a structured approach to conversion increased their sales.* How does this experiment break down?

A/B testing can be applied to many forms of marketing, including email campaigns, webpages, landing pages, social media posts, search engine marketing campaigns, banner ads, and other advertisements. During testing, you send variations of the same campaign, typically with only one difference, to determine which garners better results.

This article uncovers the elements of A/B testing and how to run an effective experiment.

The Components of A/B Testing

Elements. Consider your campaign's critical aspects: subject lines (words, their order, and length), content (wording and length, emoji use), graphics, colors, links, and call-to-action buttons. You will also have to consider the timing for social media posts and email campaigns. Always test simultaneously to avoid differences of timing and reach as large a sample as possible for the best results.

Audience. While changes to the campaign may affect a specific audience, those same changes may have a effect on another group differently. Variations in geography, native language, age, and other demographics may contribute to the audience impact.

Personalization. We like our names. According to one study, the subscriberโ€™s name is the single most impactful word you can add to the subject line, increasing opens over 14%.**

Style. Aspects such as tone genuinely reflect your values while showing that you understand your audience. For instance, a snarky tone may work for a younger audience.***

Visualization. Graphics can help you relate to a situation, explain functionality, and introduce an ideal place to be. However, visuals can also result in lower engagement if theyโ€™re not carefully producedโ€”especially if the picture or graphic is irrelevant to your value proposition or primarily includes people from demographics other than your target market. For instance, if youโ€™re an office supply store, the back-to-school campaign should show children.

Impact. With so many essential elements, you must consider which experiments to run first strategically. For instance, if your emails are not being opened, start by changing your subject line. Your headline and call-to-action will likely impact conversions more than images or body text.

The Process of A/B Testing

1) Realize that a slight change can make a substantial difference. While a 0.5% increase may not seem significant, across 10,000 views, the number can potentially lead to fifty more meetings and ten more clients if one-fifth of your meetings are converted.

2) Start with a hypothesis and stay focused on it. The hypothesis should be objective, measurable, and provable.

3) Focus on one change at a time to ensure you know exactly how to attribute any differences in performance.

4) Prioritize your testing based on impact and effort. Think of this decision as a matrix, where you look at the impact on one axis and resources on another. You may prefer an enormous impact requiring a lot of resources, or you may want to conduct several inexpensive quick tests to explore new ideas.

5) Choose metrics carefully. Distinguish between outputsโ€”such as the number of impressions, likes, or clicksโ€”and outcomes like client leads or meetings.

6) Analyze the results of your experiment. Based on your hypothesis and metrics, what did you discover?

7) Learn and adapt. Apply your findings in one campaign across all domains to maximize your learning. Utilize results to understand your target audience better. Rely on your findings to build the next test. Finally, realize that the speed of learning will increase the pace of finding success.

โ€œIf you want to increase your success rate,

double your failure rate.โ€

โ€“ Thomas J. Watson

Key Takeaway: A/B testing improves performance and your return on investment. You can effectively allocate resources, determine budgets, and reinforce your overall marketing strategy based on your findings.


Photo by which can be found here:

* See the survey Conversion Rate Optimization Report 2017 by Econsultancy here

** See the article The 15 Most Powerful Words in Subject Lines by Campaign Monitor here

*** For a fun example of how to approach a younger audience through social media, check Wendyโ€™s Twitter feed.

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