A/B Testing With WordPress: The What, Why, And How

Posted on December 22, 2014 by in Resources | 12 comments

A/B Testing With WordPress: The What, Why, And How

As most of you already know, a lot of time goes into planning and building a website. There is something rather exciting about taking that idea and then launching it into a viable site, but should your work stop there?

Many, when venturing into the online world, do so with the intent of making money or driving leads on your site that turn into money. And even though good design and evergreen content is a major part of conversion, it can be easily stated that no website is perfect.

Every website, both new and old, have holes in its design that could be rather costly to you. Unfortunately, the area where you’re losing out on conversion is a bit harder to figure out than simply glancing over your site’s design and layout.

So just how do you decipher if your site needs a conversion tune-up?

By A/B testing elements or pages on your site.

What Is A/B Testing?

A/B Testing is exactly what it sounds like it would be:

A/B Testing (also known as Split Testing) is a marketing strategy where two or more elements of something like a web page are ran at the same time and then studied to determine which performs or converts better.

However, like most people, I like to hear these techie types of expressions in a way that makes a little bit more sense.

Consider this scenario:

Picture yourself as a baker trying to figure out which version of your chocolate chip cookie tastes the best. To do so, you bake three different batches of cookies: one that is your original recipe, one with nuts, and the last one with two types of chocolate chips in it.

Next, you present each of the cookies to your customers’ at the same time and let them choose which one they like best. After you find out which one your customers’ likes the best, you then decide to start selling the one that averaged out as the best tasting one thereby increasing your sales on a product.

A/B Testing is very similar to this cookie taste test.

If you have a sales or landing page one your site, you likely want to test elements on the page to see if your can increase the conversion there. Using the method of A/B Testing, you can either create variations to a page element (like a headline or a call-to-action button) or create a very different design and then present that variation or change to a split test group of visitors to your site.

After some time, you can compare your original version to one or more versions of the page that you launched to test and then see which one converted better. The conversion rate there is your viewers’ and customers’ way of telling you which version of your “digital cookie” they like best — makes sense, right?

This type of Split Testing is not solely for being used on a site. You can (and should) do similar tests across other marketing platforms:

  • Email Marketing | Email marketing is usually a large part of many online entrepreneurs marketing strategy — conversions count here too. Popular email marketing services like MailChimp allow its users to create and send out campaigns that aim to A/B Test the results.
  • Social Media Marketing | When you share content from your site to your social media channels, what is your objective? Likely, it is to increase the shares of your content and increase traffic to your site. As that is the case, your posts to SM platforms like Facebook or Twitter can be considered Calls-To-Action. The content there should prompt a click over to your site, but does it? You can A/B test small tweaks in these posts, like using a different headline, and then see which one has a better conversion rate.

A/B Testing has a large area where it can be used and applied to help tighten your marketing funnel, which is always a good thing!

The Importance of A/B Testing

It probably goes without saying that Split Testing your site and other marketing methods is important, but in case you’re on the fence about it, let’s list a few reasons why A/B Testing should be on your to-do list.

Conversion, Baby!

This point was touched on, but applying emphasis tends to help carry a point further, wouldn’t you agree?

Obviously, conversion is important for any website owner who is looking to grow their online revenue stream, but conversion is something that everyone can benefit from. Whether you’re a Fortune 500 company or a small local based business, conversion on your site means more customers heading your way — this equates to more money in your pocket, and who doesn’t want that?

A/B Testing gives you the power to see flaws, both large and small, and then to adjust accordingly to increase conversion and tighten down your sales funnel.

Better User Experience

This is another seemingly small reason to A/B test your site and marketing funnel. Most of your online viewers will never meet you face to face. All they have to go off in terms of creating trust is your content and your site’s design.

When viewing a website, users expect, well… quite a bit really. They want a fast loading site, a clean design, great content that applies to the topic of your site, and they want you to point the way they should travel on your website. All of these things adds to a better User Experience which is a version of online customer service that can be just as important as the content on your site.

Using A/B Testing, you can make small or even large changes to your site in order to see which version of your digital environment your users like better. Although you should always use a bit of caution before just up and changing your entire site design, there are many case studies that prove that testing and launching a new or better design to your site can be beneficial.

For example, many of you are likely familiar with WordPress Blogger, Tom Ewer. In recent months, he took the time to test and launch a new design to his popular blog, Leaving Work Behind. The result?

After a week of launching his site’s redesign, the site saw the following stats:

  • Page views per session were up 19 percent
  • Time on site was up 1 percent
  • Bounce rate dropped down by 10 percent

Now if you decided to try out a new site design, your results will obviously vary, but the point to adding this is that testing your online environment can be very rewarding, and no doubt important.

So are you ready to take your marketing efforts to the next level? Then check out these A/B Testing tools.

Tools To A/B Your WordPress Site

Google Analytics

Split Test with Google Analytics

Split Test with Google Analytics

Chances are, you’re already using GA to keep track of your site traffic and bounce rate. If that’s the case — great!

However, there are many other functions to Google Analytics outside of the default ones that will display in your dashboard. One such function is the Experiments section in the Dashboard. To actually set this up, implement and then study it can be a little confusing, but if you’re on a tight budget, this free A/B Testing tool is a great place to start hemming in your marketing efforts.

If you need help  getting started with Google Analytics and the Split Testing tool therein, then be sure to take a look at these blog posts and online tutorials:

Optimizley

A/B Test WordPress with Optimizely

A/B Test with Optimizely

One of the more confusing parts of A/B Testing is figuring out how to create a variation to a WordPress site that can be shared at the same time as the original version of a page.

The A/B Testing Tool by Optimizley helps to alleviate that confusion by creating an easy to use dashboard where you can create and test variations to your site and then analyze the results of the each one. The analytics and data gathered here is not extremely vast, but the tool is free to start using and takes a lot of the stress that can easily come with A/B Testing.

All and all, it is a great tool that is easier to use and understand than Google Analytics so it could be worth your time exploring as a testing tool.

Visual Website Optimizer (VWO)

Split Test with VMO

Split Test with VMO

Want to combine a testing tool that is easy to use, has a lot of power, and is nice on the wallet? Then VWO could be your Knight in Shining Armor. Visual Website Optimizer claims to be the world’s easiest A/B Testing tool around, but it doesn’t skimp on features that you need to get the most out of your tests.

A/B test pages and elements, use Heat Maps and Click Maps to analyze online behavior and much more. With a price point starting at only $9 a month, this is sure to make quite a few budding online entrepreneurs happy.

Unbounce

A/B Testing Your Landing Pages with Unbounce

A/B Testing Your Landing Pages with Unbounce

If you’re looking for something that hones in on Landing Pages, then Unbounce is the tool to beat. Not only do they have a ton of landing page templates, they also have a drag-and-drop page builder and a dashboard where you can A/B test the landing pages that you build.

Price for this service starts at $49 per month, but you can sign up for a Free 30-Day trial to see if it is really what you’re looking for.

Nelio A/B Testing

Nelio A/B Testing for WordPress

Nelio A/B Testing for WordPress

The services offered by Nelio A/B Testing is focused around conversion for WordPress. The software integrates directly into your WP Dashboard and gives you a ton of features and control over what you can test for better conversion on your site. The platform boasts being easy to use; no coding knowledge of any kind is required. Plus, you gain access to other helpful conversion functions like Heat Maps and Click Maps.

Price for this service is sure to make a few happy as it starts at only $18 per month (when you purchase the annual package), but you can sign up for a 14-day trial for a free test run before you commit to anything.

KISSmetrics

A/B Test and Study Analytics with KISSmetrics

A/B Test and Study Analytics with KISSmetrics

No A/B Testing Tools list would be complete without KISSmetrics landing on it, but for as popular as the platform is, it may not be for everyone. That’s not to say that it’s not an impressive software — it truly is incredible as far was what you can do.

The platform essentially takes all the Google Analytics robot-like data and transforms it into something more tangible and human. You can start to connect the data of your site to the people it is reaching and you can take that and turn into action with a profitable outcome. The downside to this great software?

It’s very pricey. How so? The starting package for using the KISSmetrics platform starts at $179 per month. This can be a bit of a reach for some or just right for others. However, you may not need or want everything that is offered there, therefore, you’re going to need to weigh wants and needs versus your wallet here.

Top A/B Testing and Conversion Based Blogs To Follow

If you really want to get the best out of your A/B Testing without hiring a big name company, then you’ll need to start educating yourself on what works and what doesn’t in the field of A/B Testing. Below is a list of some great blogs and sites that have A/B Testing, Marketing and Conversion as one of their carved out niches:

Wrapping It Up

Do you think only big companies can benefit from A/B testing? Think again! You don’t need to be rich or even an astute online marketer to start testing your marketing efforts and changing them for the better.

Yes, obviously there is going to be time and even some money involved, but not A/B testing can cost you even more money in the long run. Don’t think that’s the case? Once recent study by Surepayroll found that there is $18 billion — that’s billion with a B — lost every year to online shopping cart abandonment. (Insert comical cartoon character’s jaw dropping to the floor here.)

That’s a TON of money, money that could have been yours if you knew where your marketing funnel was leaking and then fixed it.

If you haven’t started A/B testing your marketing efforts (website, landing pages, social media and email marketing campaigns), then take the time before the new year to start considering it. Your customers and your wallet with thank you.

Article Thumbnail by Author Neyro via Shutterstock

12 Comments

  1. I have read many articles on this a/b testing, but never found such detailed and specific article. Getting lots from this information. Thanks!

  2. Amazing, I started digging this subject yesterday and today I was very happy that you’ve read my thoughts and give me a very detailed view of this subject. Thanks Ariel!

  3. I am always want to perform ab testing on my website but due to no knowledge about how to do this using free tools(due to tight budget I am never afford premium service). Thanks author for producing great article.

  4. Just had to recommend this awesome plugin https://wpexperiments.com/ since not only does it split-test, after a set amount of data, it actually automatically chooses the winner for you and shows the winning page more than the losing ones.

  5. Impressive and very different article then other. Thanks for share

  6. Split Testing is very time consuming and is one of the reasons most people dont implement it. I personally deal with that challenge but, the times i do my best to split test a sales, landing or squeeze page; understanding what is best and improving on those things has always helped.

    Great blog post on this topic, thank you for sharing.

  7. A great article with valuable links and advice. Just one nit-pick A/B testing is not at all like your cookie test example. No one person sees all the variables in a split test and then chooses. Ideally you test a variable or variables against a control and judge success by response. Asking people which they prefer is almost always flawed. After many years in direct marketing I know that where the offer included a free pen it ALWAYS beat the same offer without a pen, yet when we asked a focus group do you care about a free pen the answer was always hell no, how cheap do you think I am?

    My other point that I am not sure you made clear is that be very careful to test just one variable at a time. We tested pen against no pen; pen against better pen, no pen against cheaper offer. Trust me when I tell you that even in that last case that pesky pen always wins!!

  8. Yes, I agree with Prakesh. Very good article about a/b testing, thanks.

  9. Brilliant article Ariel. Breath of fresh air reading something like this, its all here, explained and easy to digest, thank you very much x

  10. I must say this is one of the detailed post on AB testing. Most people hesitate to do that as it takes long time.Doing AB testing will be more helpful to get better results

  11. is there any free wordpress plugin which we can use to install two themes for A/B testing.

  12. Tried Nelio A/B Testing it has lots of options. I messed up and then disabled..

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