Market research is the bedrock of successful marketing. In order to sell effectively you need to know what information your customers want to know and what information they respond positively to. Intuition and guesswork, while often useful, will only get you so far. Ultimately, all businesses need cold, hard, verifiable data to successfully market their products and services.
What is A/B Testing?
A/B testing is a simple way of testing your audience’s response and, in the process, learning more about their behavior and preferences.
You start with making some assumption about a marketing choice. For example, you may test two headlines for an advertisement to see which one generates a more positive response from readers.
Or you may send two different email subjects to test which of them gets more subscribers to open the email.
That’s it! A/B testing is simply trialling two versions of a communication, A and B, to see which works best for your audience. In this way you learn valuable customer data and make the best marketing choice every time.
Getting to know your customers in this way eliminates the dangers of guesswork and allows you to accurately market your product with what your customers are really looking for.
What should you test?
If you are conducting an advertisement, you should test the headline and the ad content. Test the headline first and use the one which is more popular, and then test the content. Similarly, if you are sending emails, you will need to test the email subject and the body. Test the email subject first and once you have selected the better one, test the email body.
On your website’s homepage, you can test many different things such as headlines, colours, designs, etc. Basically, you can use A/B testing whenever you are trying any marketing tactic. You will just need to monitor the results so you can see which option results in better marketing performance, whether it is more sales, more emails opened or more website traffic.
Conducting A/B testing online requires the use of software. With some email service providers, you will get built-in A/B software. If your website is on WordPress, there are a host of plugins you can use to conduct the test. Alternately, there are independent third-party service providers you may use.
How to follow up on your test results
Once you’ve got your results, it is time to implement them into your marketing strategy.
Base your marketing strategy on the marketing content that is proven to get the best results. But don’t stop there – keep testing new and different options – you will find that A/B testing can throw up all sorts of information about your customers that otherwise you would never be aware of.
Test results can also help in other aspects of marketing, such as refining your customer profile. You can use the information to better understand what customers respond most to. For instance, you may give customers a choice of, say, low prices and fast delivery. If customers respond well to the low price, then you should market the low price and not the fast delivery.
Ultimately, A/B testing is a very useful method of testing the market. First of all, it is quick and cost-effective. You put the two versions out before the audience and they do the rest of the work. Secondly, because the results are customer-generated, they are more likely to be accurate and reliable.