The customer controls everything in the e-commerce industry. They’re at the centre of every transaction, every trend, and every sale.
Statista reported that 44.5% of businesses consider customer experience and satisfaction their primary competitive advantage.
But creating a good customer experience isn’t just about acting out of intuition or predicting what your customers want.
Sometimes, it helps to have tangible insights that guide your decision-making process.
Enter A/B split testing.
What is A/B Split Testing?
A/B split testing, also known as bucket testing or split-run testing, is a method of conducting controlled experiments on two variants of a marketing campaign to determine which one performs better in terms of conversion rate or other key metrics.
It involves randomly splitting website visitors into two groups and showing them different versions of a webpage or marketing material.
By measuring the response rates between the two groups, businesses can determine which version is more effective in achieving their desired outcome.
Why Conduct A/B Split Testing?
A/B split testing offers a data-driven approach to improving customer experience, increasing conversions, and ultimately boosting revenue.
Here are some key benefits of conducting A/B split testing in e-commerce:
Identify the most effective design or copy
Businesses can determine which layout, design or messaging resonates best with their target audience by comparing two versions of a webpage or marketing material. That way, they can make data-driven decisions on what works and what doesn’t, leading to higher conversion rates.
Optimize marketing campaigns
A/B split testing can help determine which marketing campaign elements are driving more conversions. That includes things like ad copy, call-to-action buttons, images, and landing pages. By optimizing these elements, businesses can reach more potential customers and increase their chances of conversion.
Gain insight into customer behaviour
A/B split testing can also provide valuable insights into how customers interact with a website or marketing material. By tracking user behaviour, businesses can identify pain points and areas for improvement, leading to a better overall customer experience.
Save time and money
By conducting A/B split testing, businesses can make informed decisions on the changes they make to their website or marketing campaigns without wasting time and resources on guesswork, hence a more efficient use of resources and a higher ROI.
A/B Testing in eCommerce
You might be running a successful e-commerce business, but how do you know if you’re tapping into its full potential?
Enter A/B split testing.
Whether it’s optimizing your product pages or improving your checkout process, A/B testing can help take your e-commerce game to the next level.
A/B testing is no magic bullet, but it can provide valuable insights into what drives conversions and what doesn’t and if there’s room for improvement.
It’s like hitting the gym, where you’re constantly pushing yourself to improve your performance.
Similarly, A/B testing allows businesses to continuously push themselves and their marketing efforts to evolve and improve.
Amazon, one of the largest e-commerce companies in the world, has been known to conduct thousands of A/B tests every year.
From testing different layouts and images on their product pages to changing the positioning of their call-to-action buttons, Amazon is constantly striving for optimization and better customer experience.
7 Elements of an eCommerce Store That Can Benefit from A/B Testing
While every e-commerce business is unique, certain elements can generally benefit from A/B split testing. Here are seven of them:
Call to Action (CTA)
Action-oriented words or phrases such as “Shop Now” or “Add to Cart” might seem trivial, but they can significantly impact conversion rates.
Buttons, forms, and pop-ups are all examples of CTAs that can be A/B tested to determine if they’re at their optimal best.
Different aspects of a CTA could discourage or encourage customers from interacting with it, such as colour, size, placement, copy, animation, design, and more.
You can use metrics like heatmaps, screen recordings, and click-through rates to identify which elements of your CTAs are hindering conversions and make data-driven changes to improve them.
Your product descriptions should be compelling, informative, and able to persuade customers to purchase. But what if they’re missing the mark?
By A/B testing different versions, businesses can determine which aspects of their product descriptions resonate with customers and which do not.
That could include elements like tone, length, formatting, visuals, or anything else that could affect a customer’s buying decision.
Finding the sweet spot for pricing can be a challenge in itself, but A/B testing can make it easier.
Try testing different price points or presenting your prices in various formats (e.g., round numbers vs. odd numbers) to see what works best with your target audience.
You might discover that a slight change in pricing can significantly impact your conversion rates and, ultimately, boost your revenue.
The checkout process is where the rubber meets the road in e-commerce. You want to make sure it’s as seamless and effortless as possible for customers to complete their purchases.
By testing different elements of the checkout process, such as payment options, form fields, shipping costs, or delivery times, businesses can identify any potential roadblocks and optimize for a smoother experience.
Email marketing is a powerful tool for e-commerce businesses, but it’s essential to get it right.
Test your emails’ subject line, layout, images, and call-to-action to determine what drives the most click-throughs and conversions.
You can also segment your email list and test different versions for each segment to see what resonates best with different groups of customers.
Store UX Design
The overall user experience (UX) of an e-commerce store plays a significant role in customer satisfaction and conversion rates. From navigation to site speed, everything can be A/B tested to identify the area to improve or if the store needs a complete redesign.
You can ensure a seamless and user-friendly customer experience by continuously testing and optimizing store design.
Here are a few UX elements that can be A/B tested:
- Navigation menu
- Search bar placement and functionality
- Product categorization and filtering options
- The overall layout and design of the website, including colour scheme, font size, heading, text, and images
- The number of interactive elements on a page and their placement
- Page loading speed
Testimonials and Reviews
Fera conducted a study that showed 93% of consumers read online reviews before making a purchase, and 49% trust these reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Social proof is like a virtual word-of-mouth marketing technique that builds trust and credibility with potential customers.
From A/B testing the placement, format, or type of reviews and testimonials on your website, you can determine what works best in persuading customers to trust and purchase from your brand.
Images can be powerful visual tools to showcase products and evoke emotions in customers. A/B testing different images on your product pages, social media posts, or marketing materials can help determine which types of images resonate most with your target audience.
You can test the size, placement, type, and quality of images to see what drives the most engagement and conversions.
How to A/B Test Your Ecommerce Store for Conversion
Now that we’ve covered the different elements you can A/B test, let’s discuss how to conduct an A/B split test for your e-commerce store:
Have a Goal in Mind
Don’t be quick to start testing without a specific goal in mind.
You can start by choosing the primary metric to improve: conversion rates, revenue per visitor, or average order value.
The metric you choose will depend on your business goals and objectives.
Here are a few metrics you can work with:
- Click-through rates
- Conversion rates
- Bounce rates
- Time on page
- Sessions per user
- Average order value
- Purchases per visitor
- Overall revenue
- Net promoter score (NPS)
Choose the Variable to Test
Don’t test everything at once. Otherwise, you wouldn’t know which variable was responsible for the improvement or decline in results.
Choose one variable at a time, and make sure it can significantly impact your chosen metric.
Some variables you could A/B test include:
- CTA button colour
- Product Description length
- Testimonials/placement of social proof elements
Keep in mind that a slight change in a variable can have a significant impact on results. So, don’t feel limited to only testing significant changes.
Experiment with various elements’ colour, size, font, or placement to see which variable drives the most satisfying results.
Choose a Variable and Create Its Challenger
Once you have a goal and a variable, it’s time to create the challenger.
The challenger is the version that will go head-to-head with your current variable to determine which performs better in achieving your desired results.
Make sure your challenger only differs from the original variable by one element. Otherwise, you won’t know which specific change led to the improved or worsened results.
For example, if you’re testing the colour of a CTA button, keep everything else the same (e.g., size, shape, placement) and only change the colour for the challenger version.
Let the challenge run for a set period (e.g., one week) and monitor the results. After that, you can declare a winner based on the chosen metric.
If the challenger performs better, keep that version and create a new challenger to test against it. If the original variable wins, try tweaking something else and retesting until you find an optimized version.
You can rerun the tests periodically to ensure your e-commerce store continuously improves and meets your customers’ changing needs and preferences.
Use an A/B Testing Tool
While you can manually conduct A/B tests by creating two versions of your e-commerce store and comparing results, an A/B testing tool makes the process more efficient and accurate.
These tools provide advanced features like automated switching between versions, detailed analytics, and easy setup for non-technical users.
Some popular A/B testing tools include:
- Google Optimize
- VWO (Visual Website Optimizer)
- Crazy Egg
Select a tool that fits your budget, technical expertise, and overall needs to streamline your A/B testing process.
Determine Your Sample Size
The larger your sample size, the more accurate and reliable your results will be.
But you don’t want to test too many people, as that would mean investing more time and resources into an experiment.
If you’re A/B testing your email marketing campaigns, you’d want to A/B test a subset of your subscribers before trying it on your entire email list.
Similarly, for A/B testing your e-commerce store, you can try a portion of your website traffic to determine the best version before rolling out the changes on the entire site.
Whatever the size of your sample group, ensure it’s large enough to produce statistically significant results. In other words, you need at least 1000-2000 visitors to your site or subscribers to your email list to ensure reliable results.
What if You’re Testing Something without a Finite Audience?
Sometimes, you may be A/B testing something that doesn’t have a finite audience. For example, if you’re testing different pop-up offers on your site and want to see which one leads to more conversions.
In this case, it’s best to let the test run for at least two weeks or until you have received enough data to make an informed decision.
Analyse Your Data
A/B testing is meaningless if you don’t analyse the results and draw meaningful conclusions.
Thankfully, most A/B testing tools come with built-in analytics to help you interpret the data easily.
However, be careful not to jump to conclusions based on one test. Instead, take a holistic approach and look at trends over time before making any significant changes to your e-commerce store.
A good split test will yield a clear winner based on your chosen metric. Once you have this data, you can confidently make changes to your e-commerce store, knowing they are backed by data and not chance.
Schedule Your Tests
When comparing variables, it’s best to run tests simultaneously, so external factors like seasonality or promotions don’t influence the results.
You can schedule your A/B tests using a tool like Google Optimize that allows you to set up tests in advance and automatically switch back to the original version after a set period.
Alternatively, you could manually monitor and switch between versions for shorter test periods. This method is more hands-on but may yield quicker results.
While at it, you want to factor in holiday sales or special promotions.
Pick a comparable period to conduct your A/B testing. If you’re testing for a specific holiday, make sure the test takes place during that period.
This way, your results will be more accurate and reflective of real-world scenarios.
Test All Variations Simultaneously
When conducting A/B tests, it helps to test all variations simultaneously to stop external factors from influencing your results.
For example, if you’re testing two versions of a landing page, make sure they are both live at the same time to avoid traffic differences due to the time of day or day of the week.
This ensures that your results are based solely on the changes made and not on any external factors.
Don’t wait a month or more to switch between versions — do it as soon as possible to get reliable results.
Conduct Multiple A/B Tests
A/B testing should be an ongoing process for an e-commerce store.
Don’t just test one element and call it a day. Instead, conduct multiple tests on different variables to continuously optimize your store and improve your results.
Use heatmaps, user recordings, and other tools to gather insights on how users interact with your site. Then use that data to inform your A/B testing strategy.
Remember, small changes can lead to significant improvements in conversion rates or sales, so keep experimenting to find the optimal version of your e-commerce store.
Give Each Test Enough Time
Don’t rush through A/B tests and switch between versions too quickly.
Give each test enough time to gather sufficient data and draw reliable conclusions. We’re talking weeks, depending on your website traffic and the complexity of the test.
If you switch too soon, you may not have enough data to make an informed decision, and your results may not be accurate.
Ask for Feedback from Actual Users
While A/B testing is an excellent way to gather data and make informed decisions, don’t forget to ask for feedback from actual users.
Surveys, user feedback forms, and customer reviews can provide valuable insights into how your customers feel about the changes made to your e-commerce store.
You can even add an exit survey that asks the user to explain why they didn’t make a purchase or complete a specific action on your site. This information can help you further optimize your store and address the pain points they have.
The Pros and Cons of A/B Testing
A/B testing can be a powerful tool for e-commerce stores, but like any method, it has its pros and cons.
- Data-driven decisions: A/B testing allows you to make changes based on data rather than intuition.
- Continuous optimization: With A/B testing, you can continuously improve your e-commerce store and see tangible results.
- Cost-effective: Compared to other forms of market research, A/B testing is relatively low-cost and easy to conduct.
- Personalization: A/B testing allows you to personalize your site for different segments of your audience, increasing the chances of conversion.
- Better User Experience: The end goal of A/B testing is to enhance the user experience, resulting in happier customers and increased retention.
- Time-consuming: Conducting A/B tests takes time and effort, from setting up the test to analysing results.
- Limited sample size: Depending on your website traffic, it may take longer to gather enough data for reliable conclusions.
- Can be misleading: A/B testing doesn’t take into account user preference or emotional reactions, which may affect their behaviour on your site.
- Technical expertise: A/B testing tools and setup may require technical knowledge, making it challenging for non-technical users.
It’s a Wrap
eCommerce A/B testing is all about making data-driven, informed decisions to improve your online store’s performance. By scheduling tests, using the right tools, conducting multiple tests, and giving them enough time, you can continuously optimize your store for better user experience and improved results.
Remember to also ask for feedback from actual users and consider the pros and cons before jumping into A/B testing. With a well-planned approach and regular tests, you can take your e-commerce store to the next level. So why not give it a try?