A/B Testing in WordPress

A/B Testing in WordPressIf you are indifferent about web usability, functional features of your WordPress site or conversion rate optimization, then this blog post is a must read for you.

We all know that we can make changes to a WordPress site using web development skills to improve the look and feel of the site and as well as optimize the visitor journeys to improve goal conversions. However, what should we do if our business is not receiving any phone calls, emails, online form submissions or web orders? What are we doing wrong by creating a new fancy site with a blog and realizing that our previous simple website had been bringing more conversions than our new site? Read on!

What Is A/B Testing?

A/B testing is all about comparing two versions of a web page to see which one performs better. You can showcase two variants of your site to visitors at the same time, and the one that brings more relevant conversions can then be crowned a winner!

Most websites on the Internet have a similar goal – attract relevant visitors who can then be converted into leads. There are different approaches to conduct A/B testing:

  • Split Testing: It's the simplest way for conducting an A/B testing exercise. One can choose a single element on a page (a button or an image or a piece of text), modify it and then create two versions of the page to show to users and test the variance in responses between the two
  • Multivariate Testing: If you have conducted a basic split test and are looking to the most complicated pairing of elements that can bring the best conversion, you can try a multivariate test where you test various combinations of different elements on the page
  • Experimental Testing: In this test, every element of a webpage is put under the testing lens to see which one has a significant impact on users. Experimental testing should normally be performed after the split and multivariate testing.

Why Conduct an A/B Test?

A/B test allows you to get the maximum returns on your digital investment. The price of improving your conversions using A/B tests is minimal compared to the cost of acquiring paid traffic. For example, a basic subscription to an A/B testing plan that allows you to do a split test normally costs around $40-50/month, which is equal to the cost of about 10 clicks on an average Google AdWords campaign, but the rate of return on your A/B test is much higher on a long-term.

Cost to Conduct an A/B Test

When to Conduct an A/B Test?

After installing your new WordPress site, please keep in mind that factors like slow loading time or content-related errors cannot be evaluated in an A/B test. No matter how many A/B tests you do, your website performance will remain the same unless you use the right tools to solve the right issues. So, an A/B test can be justified in one of the below scenarios:

  • Site re-launches: Starting a split test as soon as you design a new site is always recommended instead of waiting to see how it'll perform with your audience. Examine the A/B test results and place your site layout elements based on their best performance
  • Decreased conversions: If your website suddenly notices a major downfall in conversions, it's time to carry out A/B testing, provided you have checked there is no server-side issues
  • Increased conversions: An increased conversion is a happy moment but it is a good reason to carry out A/B testing to understand what it is that your visitors like and use on your website
  • Product launches: Every time you are launching a product, try conducting an A/B test. You can act immediately if something is wrong with the way the product is displayed on a page.

What Can We Test?

Below is a break down of website elements that can be tested using A/B testing:

  • Headlines
  • Paragraph text
  • Sub-headlines
  • Social proof
  • Testimonials
  • Call to action buttons
  • Call to action text
  • Links
  • Images
  • Awards and badges
  • Content near the fold
  • Media mentions
  • Pricing structures
  • Sale promotions
  • Free trial durations
  • Navigation and UX experiences
  • Free or paid delivery

Steps to Conduct A/B Testing?

1. Examine Your Website Data

Ask yourself why do you need A/B testing? What is it on your site that's not performing well?

Then, conduct some initial research to find possible clues on why your web conversions are low. Dig into your web traffic analytics to see any troublesome exit pages where the user interaction is low and analyze the pathways your visitors take to get to your site.

You can also use heat maps to know where your visitors’ eyes are looking the most on your page.

Finally, conduct interviews, send online surveys and encourage feedback to see what your audience is expecting to see and do on your site.

2. Establish the Goal

Once you have identified the problem area on your website you need to have a goal: What is the result you want to see when your team updates the page again? More contact form submissions? More time spent on the site? Etc.

3. Construct a Hypothesis

Build a hypothesis based on the insights from the visitor behavior analysis tools for increasing conversions. For instance: Which layout element needs an update? Do you need to increase the size of a CTA button? Do you need to split a long form into small segments? Will adding a social login/registration button help to reduce drop offs? And most importantly - if your change succeeds, WILL it be compatible with your long-term strategy?

4. Test Your Hypothesis

Create a variation according to your hypothesis and perform a test against the original page. Monitor the data during a set duration of the test with regards to the current conversion rate, a number of your monthly visitors and the expected change in the conversion rate.

5. Analyze Test Data and Draw Conclusions

Once you have gained a solid dataset to work with, it's time to examine it and come up with the next steps. Analyze the results and see which variation performed better and delivered a higher conversion rate. If a specific variation outperforms the other, it is a clear winner, and you can go ahead with its implementation.

Note: If there’s no significant difference in two variations, rework the hypothesis or test something else.

6. Report Results to All Concerned Members

Sometimes the results of an A/B test are surprising. Share them with your team including Marketing, IT, and UI/UX and let them know of the outcome to decide on the next steps together.

7. Tools to Conduct A/B Testing?

Below is a brief list of tools you can use to get started:

I hope that now you can proceed with you’re a/B testing project. Please share your insights on the best practices in A/B testing in the comments area below.

This post has been contributed by Kiera Hayes.

John oftentimes takes the lead as the Agile Project Manager and SEO expert on selected projects, which allows him to be hands-on with the latest trends.