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Reach for the stars by A/B testing your website

Businesses are continually looking for ways to tweak their websites in a way that will boost conversions. Unfortunately, the majority of attempts to do so are trial and error rather than systematic, meaning that it's difficult to know whether you're making progress or not.

For some time now, however, digital marketers have been using A/B testing, a method borrowed directly from the scientific method. A/B testing is like conducting an experiment but on your website. Just like a scientific experiment, you have a control group - your site right now - and a treatment group; a new web page you hope will convert better than your old one.

You then run the experiment, funneling customers at random to either your original page or your new one, and tracking the results. The idea is that you really don't know ahead of time which web page will generate the most conversion ahead of time. As a web host, your task is to run the experiment, dispassionately analyze the results, and then implement whichever format or design is best for conversion numbers.

The Promise Of A/B Testing

Let's say that your new "treatment" page performs better than the old one. Great news. You can upload that page and funnel all customers through it. But suppose you then think of a way to improve the page to increase conversions even further. This is the point at which you discover the magic of A/B testing: nothing is stopping you from using the newly updated page as a control and then comparing it to a new treatment page you think might perform even better.

By making small changes, tracking the results, and uploading new pages, you can continue to refine your pages ad infinitum. After multiple iterations, you could end up with something truly exceptional that provides customers with compelling reasons to do what you what them to do (such as sign up for an email list or your subscription services). You harness the power of selective evolution to produce web pages that survive your tests.

Ways To Use A/B Testing To Boost Conversion

Let's take a look at some of the ways that you can use A/B testing to boost conversions and improve your bottom line.

Play Around With Your Headlines

Your headlines can make an enormous difference to the conversion power of your website. Even though two headlines might appear to convey the same information, it's often the case that one version garners more clicks than others, based on the wording.

Suppose, for instance, that you run a website that sells coaching services to new business owners and you want them to sign up for your services and learn how to make a success of their enterprise.

You might have two titles in mind for your home page; an existing one which says "Learn How To Make Your First Dollar In Business" and an experimental one which says "Learn How To Make $2,000 Per Month From Your Business."

Aside from small grammatical changes, the only difference between these two titles is the fact that the first doesn't mention a dollar amount, while the second does. The next part of the process is to test which one has the most potent conversion potential. You can probably guess ahead of time that the latter will probably do better: mentioning a specific dollar amount is highly impactful.

Choosing the second headline might not be the end of the story, however. While a specific dollar amount may work better than not mentioning one at all, the magnitude of the dollar sum may also make a difference. You might want to test the original $2,000 against new dollar amounts, such as $500, $1,000, $5,000 and $10,000 to see which values entice the most customers.

Switch Up The Design And Layout

The great thing about A/B testing is that you can play with practically any element on a web page, including the position of the call-to-action button, logo, and sales copy. Often, there's no way to know ahead of time which arrangement will be the best for conversions. It's just a matter of experimentation and building quality through successive trials

That's not to say that you're entirely in the dark. You could, for instance, use a heatmap tool to see where your customers move their cursors on the page. You might find that the left-hand side of your page is the most active. In that case, it would make sense to put your CTA on the left side too.

Play With Graphics And Images

In some industries, the type of images that you choose to advertise your products and services can have an enormous impact on conversion rates.

Take the travel industry, for instance. Travel companies know that photographs of holiday locations in the pouring rain do not sell anything like as well as the same destination photographed in warm, sunny conditions.

The nature of the photos that you use on your website, therefore, could have a profound effect on whether people click "buy" or not. Granted, you probably know that a sunny picture is more likely to entice holidaymakers than a rainy one, but it's not always obvious ahead of time which photograph you should choose.

You might think, for instance, that the photograph on your landing page is great and shows off your business in the right light. But that might just be your perception. Your customers could take an entirely different view.

Customize Your Forms

Finally, you can use A/B testing to improve the quality of your forms. Forms are a tool that you use to get people to sign up to your products and services and build your email marketing list. It's a vital way for your company to create value. But is it working?

You can play with all kinds of things, such as the number of fields, the font that you use, the size of the text, and graphics/color of the form.