If you’re not testing your copy, design, and conversion elements, you’re most likely leaving money on the table. So, what do you do? Simple: A/B testing. It’s a process of showing different users different content to determine which is most effective.
Hard numbers can yield surprising results and it sure beats guessing.
What content could you test? Well, it could be anything from a totally different page to a minor variation in color.
To conduct A/B testing in WordPress you just need three things:
- The alternative content you wish to test
- A measurable goal
- A way to present the content to your visitors and measure performance
A small change can have a big impact
Let’s look at a classic example, where one of the most admired internet companies in the United States dramatically increased conversions due to A/B testing.
Expedia attributed a $12 million increase in profit to simply removing the “Company” field from its form.
Setting up A/B testing on your WordPress site
As with most things in WordPress, “There’s a plugin for that.” These plugins can broadly be broken down into two categories, “self-contained” and “third-party service.”
Let’s take a look at the options.
These plugins manage the display of the variations and record the results themselves. They also generate the reports – all inside your WordPress dashboard.
- No behind-the-scenes code calling third-party servers, which could slow down your site as a result
- The data stays on your site
- May put additional burden on your web host when generating reports
- You’re stuck with whatever reports the plugin generates
Here are a few examples of “self-contained” plugins:
Using a third-party service (SaaS)
These plugins connect to a third-party service to manage your test. The external service determines which users see which version of the content, and it handles the analysis and reporting, too. Now, we can further divide these services into two categories: “Google” and “Everyone Else.”
Google Analytics content experiments
If you’re already running Google Analytics, there are clear advantages to using Google Experiments (that’s what they call their A/B testing product).
- It’s FREE
- You can measure against your existing Analytics “goals”
- You can use Google Events as part of your testing
- You’re able to runs multiple tests at once
- It can be rather confusing to set up an experiment
- No, really–it can get very confusing
- Reports are very utilitarian; as a result, you don’t get some of the pretty graphs offered by some of the other companies
Check out these Google plugin examples:
- GA Experiments+ | Dev Edition
- Simple Google Content Experiments
- Simple Content Experiments (Full disclosure: We developed this one)
Most of the big A/B testing companies offer WordPress solutions: Optimizely, Kissmetrics, Unbounce, etc.
- They’re scalable and robust
- They offer easy-to-use interfaces
- They include lots of other features, like landing page design
- They’re pricey; these services can cost anywhere from $50/month to thousands depending on your traffic
Implement A/B testing in WordPress and improve your site performance
That common saying: “you can’t manage what you can’t measure” directly applies to conversion optimization.
So, get started with A/B testing in your WordPress site. Once you can determine what content performs best, you’ll be able to make informed decisions about how to spend your valuable resources. Whether you want to identify what isn’t working for your audience or better understand what is, continually testing new strategies is the best way to fine-tune your web content.