So many decisions in your business come down to two things. This, or that. Number one or number two. A or B.
Should you go with the awesome slogan you came up with or the equally amazing one your friend thought of? Is the graphic designer’s new logo the best or should you go with the old one that’s worked for so long? Is your email campaign really working or should you take it in a daring new direction?
With so many potential scenarios – how are you supposed to make the tough decisions and still run your business? Well, one of the best ways to do this is through A/B testing, which lets your customers and the public at large decide for you.
What Is It?
This method sounds great, but just what is A/B testing anyway? For starters, it’s one of the most common methods marketers and web designers use to make decisions. As mentioned above, it’s a great way to understand just how your customers and the public think.
This testing method pits two ideals against each other. For instance, let’s say you want to know if your store’s current menu selections still work or if a redesign is in order. You’re having a lot of trouble deciding as your current design has worked for a while but it seems outdated. What to do?
A/B testing lets the public decide. You simply test to see if the current design (A) or the redesign (B) gets more traffic and leads to more sales. If one wins, you go with that option. This way, the people paying your bills tell you what they like. Pretty simple, right?
For a more real world application, consider Facebook. Most the changes that come through are tested this way. Sure, people complain – but do visits to the site go up? That’s all they care about. If they do, they implement the changes, pure and simple. Sites like fivesecondtest.com and Adwords allow you to cheaply try new concepts and test your ideas with people online.
Getting the Most Out of an A/B Test
Want to put your own ideas to the test? There are two big rules to follow if you really want to know what your customers and the public think. You want to make sure the changes you’re making truly give you an idea of the popular opinion, or the whole experiment is essentially pointless.
First, make sure the changes are big enough for people to notice. For example, let’s say you want to find a new slogan for your company. If your current one is “Feel the Heat!” don’t make the new one “Feel the Warmth!” It’s simply not a big enough change for anyone to care. Instead, try for something radical like “We’ll Blow You Away!”
The other big point is to give the experiment enough time. Facebook can test millions of user reactions in one day, but most small businesses aren’t lucky enough to reach such a large audience. Many business owners and freelancers make the mistake of only testing for a short period of time as they get anxious to know the results. This will not give you any sort of result you can take to the bank, especially if your site doesn’t get that much traffic to begin with.
So even if the first couple of days you notice a huge jump in sales, it doesn’t mean it will last. The final results are all that matter. Give these big changes at least a month to settle in so you can tell if they really stick. You may be surprised at the results, too, so be prepared for whatever comes!