Over the next few weeks, I’ll be using my blog posts to high­light the Test & Tar­get tools you have at your dis­posal, as well as call out the most effec­tive ways to use them.

I’ll start the series with the A/B test, one of the most fun­da­men­tal tools in your arse­nal. With mul­ti­vari­ate tests get­ting the lion’s share of atten­tion in the press, the effec­tive­ness of an A/B test is often over­looked. That’s too bad, since an A/B test is often the base­way to start testing.

First, let’s define some terms. For our pur­poses, I’ll define an A/B test as a live test in which you mea­sure the per­for­mance of two or more pages against each other. Exam­ples would be test­ing two ver­sions of your site’s home­page, or test­ing three ver­sions of a par­tic­u­lar land­ing page.

My OTTO Dig­i­tal clients are often sur­prised when I sug­gest start­ing with an A/B test. But once I explain my rea­son­ing, they quickly sign up with the plan. Here is why I rec­om­mend start­ing with an A/B test:

An A/B test encour­ages you to test rad­i­cal alternatives

Unlike mul­ti­vari­ate tests, which are designed to rig­or­ously test spe­cific ele­ments on a page, an A/B test encour­ages you to try totally new page designs. You should take advan­tage of this fact and test out ideas that dif­fer sig­nif­i­cantly from your con­trol. At OTTO Dig­i­tal we often tell clients that if you tack your tested alter­na­tives up on a wall, you should be able to tell them apart from across the room.

An A/B test can gives you fast results

With an A/B test, you divide traf­fic into just a few buck­ets. If you’ve cre­ated recipes with dra­matic dif­fer­ences, you’re likely to see a recipe or two emerge as a win­ner more quickly than you would with a more com­plex mul­ti­vari­ate test. For get­ting results fast, noth­ing beats an A/B test.

A/B tests are sim­ple to design and interpret

This is an impor­tant fac­tor to con­sider, espe­cially if site opti­miza­tion is a new dis­ci­pline at your com­pany. Few things set back a nascent test­ing effort more than an excit­ing test that is later revealed to be flawed in some way. An A/B test pro­vides a straight­for­ward setup, with straight­for­ward results.

An A/B test helps you focus your future MVT efforts

Once you run an A/B test and know which recipe is per­form­ing the best, you can fur­ther opti­mize that win­ner with a round of rig­or­ous MVT test­ing. You’ll now be test­ing off an improved base­line. A/B test­ing is unmatched in its abil­ity to reveal a win­ning con­cept and guide your future efforts.

So there you have it. Don’t hes­i­tate to run the hum­ble but effec­tive A/B test. It’s often the best first step on your road to site optimization.

3 comments
Toner online
Toner online

This is an important factor to consider, especially if site optimization is a new discipline at your company. Few things set back a nascent testing effort more than an exciting test that is later revealed to be flawed in some way. An A/B test provides a straightforward setup, with straightforward results.

revenue generation for b2b
revenue generation for b2b

A/B testing is great for landing pages or pages that contain web forms. I'd also suggest using A/B testing for email campaigns. Most professional-grade email marketing tools provide A/B testing capabilities with click through rates and analytics to help you quickly measure effectiveness of these real-life tests.