The Scientific Approach To Online Marketing: AB Split Testing

Most companies fancy themselves as cutting edge and up to date, especially now more and more businesses are moving into the cloud. But when it comes to their marketing strategies, are they really as up to date as they would like?

For many businesses, marketing is a bit of a mystery. There doesn’t seem to be any well-defined way to test which methods work and which method don’t. After all, marketing is more of an art than a science. And you never know which advertising slogan or web page heading is going to lead to the most sales.

Or do you? Actually, there is a way to test whether one marketing method is better than another. In the jargon of the industry, this is called AB split testing. It’s actually a very intuitive concept: something the scientist in all of us can appreciate.

Let’s say you’re juggling with which title to put on your web page. You like title A and title B equally. As an online marketer, you have no idea which one will be more effective in driving conversions. Any why would you? Often there isn’t any a priori way of knowing which will be more effective in practice.

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So what how would you test to see which was more effective? The best way to do it would be to randomly send half of the people visiting your website to title A and half to title B.

Then, all you’d need to do is compare the number of conversions on each page to see which got the highest number of conversions. Without software, this process is difficult, if not impossible. So you’ll need outside help to do it. But, once you have the AB concept firmly established in your marketing approach, you can keep refining and testing your approach.

AB testing takes a big chunk of the mystery out of marketing. And it could potentially save you a lot of money. Optimising your conversion rates is certainly a cheaper option. It beats making up sales through regular advertising channels, for example.

So what do marketers regularly test using AB testing. The first thing that usually is tested, as we have mentioned, is the headline on the page. The headline needs to have a strong, convincing and believable message. That’s because five times as many people read the headline as do the majority of the text. Often, if the headline formula is wrong, it means that you’re missing out on 80% of potential customers.

AB testing, however, can be used to test many different things. You may decide that you want to test out two totally different websites with different themes. You might want to try out different page designs or new media to communicate your message.

And most importantly, it’s yet another way that technology has levelled the playing field. What would once have been prohibitively expensive for small businesses, can now be done with a simple software package. Through AB testing everybody now has access to up-to-date analytics on the effectiveness of their marketing.

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