Split testing your WordPress website can give you concrete evidence about which design implementations work better. In this article, we’ll cover the essentials of A/B split testing, its importance and what you can split test on your WordPress site. We’ll conclude with a section on some plugins to help you get started with A/B testing in WordPress.
What is A/B Testing?
A/B testing a web page means comparing two of its variations with one another to see which one performs better. A/B testing is also referred to as split testing and we’ll use both terms interchangeably in this post.
The concept of split testing is pretty simple. First of all, you select a web page that you want to optimize in terms of performance and create two variants of it (we’ll call them web page A and web page B). A and B are exactly the same save for the page elements you want to split test on. Next, you present both web pages to similar visitors at once and see which one delivers better performance. The web page with the highest conversion rates is the one you want to go with.
According to ConversionXL,
It is a method for validating that any new addition or change to your webpage will actually improve it’s conversion rate.
A/B testing enables users to evaluate the changes that need to be made on a web page based on statistics and allow them to make data-informed decisions about which changes to implement for maximum conversions. In short, it saves you from running trial and error tests to improve website optimization and tells you exactly what will work for your site.
Why Should You A/B Test?
A/B testing sounds like a whole lot of trouble. Why should you bother with it anyway?
Boost Conversion Rates
Your website – just like most other websites on the Internet – has a purpose behind its existence. Whether you have a blog or an e-store, you want your site’s visitors to become something more – subscribers, customers, or advertisement clickers!
Make Informed Decisions
As you can probably already tell, the results gained from A/B testing can give you valuable insight into promising page elements and design tweaks that are bound to increase your site’s conversion rates. They also give you solid, real-world data based on which you can make informed decisions about the core functionality and design of your WordPress website.
Create Engaging Campaigns
A/B testing enables webmasters and e-store owners to try out several marketing campaigns and promotional activities to see which ones work the best based on their site’s design and targeted audience. It helps determine which types of advertisements a site’s incoming traffic responds to the most and which ones simply aren’t resonating with the viewers.
I don’t know about you but those seem like pretty compelling reasons to start A/B testing your site! So which page elements can you improve on?
What Can You A/B Test?
By now you have a fair idea of what A/B testing is and why it’s important. In this section, we’ll go over a list of the most common page elements that you can perform the split tests on. All of the page elements in this list (and any other page elements you choose to test on) are called variables.
Buttons, Bars, and Headers
- Call to action buttons.
- Social sharing buttons.
- Search bar.
- Navigation bar.
- Headline bar.
- Opt-in forms.
- Subscription forms.
- Email signup forms.
- Page layout.
- Related posts.
- Marketing campaigns.
- Sales copy.
- Advertisement locations.
- The length of blog posts.
- Pricing tables.
- Checkout process.
- Color palettes.
- Landing pages.
It’s possible to test just about everything on your website – WordPress themes, buttons, headers, font styles – you name it. With that out of the way, let’s dive right into the split testing process in detail now to get a better idea of the how of the whole matter.
The A/B Testing Process
Although there are many different approaches you can adopt to split test your website, we’ll go with a scientific approach that is intuitive to its core. The A/B testing process can, therefore, be summarized into the following set of steps:
- Collect data.
- Set goals.
- Construct a hypothesis.
- Calculate the test duration.
- Develop web page variations.
- Run the experiment.
- Analyze the results.
This seven step split testing process is a surefire way to get the hang of A/B testing. Let’s take a closer look at each of the steps involved.
Step 1: Collect Data
To start things off, you need to understand where your website (or web page) currently stands. The best way to do this is to collect some data from analytics tools. If you’ve registered your WordPress site with Google Analytics, that’s a great place to start. What you’re basically trying to do is understand your visitors’ behavior.
The data you should look for ought to reflect the areas on your website (or web page) that could use a little touch-up. Best practices adopted in the data collection step is to analyze the areas of your website that receive the most traffic as they will give you the largest data set to work with.
Step 2: Set Goals
The second step is to set achievable goals for your web page. The goal you set at this point will determine which areas and page elements you’ll target in the following steps to reach your objectives. If you’re running a membership site, you’ll want more people to sign up and become paid members so your goal might be to boost email subscribers and increase social media promotions.
On the other hand, if you’re running an e-commerce site and find that your sales could use a little pick-me-up, your goal might be to reduce shopping cart abandonment or get more customers to make it to the checkout page.
Step 3: Construct a Hypothesis
Once you’ve set a definite objective for your web page, construct a hypothesis for why a design alteration is necessary. Why is it that a variation of your current web page will perform better and what will the result be? Your hypothesis may be that if your site implements a one-page checkout module, your sales will increase.
Constructing a hypothesis necessitates that you conduct some research and analyze current trends. A good place to start is to see what others around you are doing – competitors and other successful sites within your niche. Doing this may spark an idea in your mind and make it easier to come up with a strong hypothesis.
Step 4: Calculate the Test Duration
After constructing a hypothesis, you need to determine a safe testing duration. All WordPress sites are unique in terms of the number of unique visitors they receive, their conversion rates, and their overall design. A test that you run on your website will most likely be different than a test that’s run on some other website.
It’s important that you calculate a test duration that’s long enough to give you some results but not too long so that the experiment only wastes time. In some cases, a test will only take a few days whereas in others it could take up to a few weeks. Use this A/B Split and Multivariate Test Duration Calculator to determine how long you should run your experiment for.
Step 5: Develop Web Page Variations
Based on the hypothesis you construct, develop web page variations to implement the tests on. We’ll call them A and B. This involves developing another web page that is exactly similar to the first save for the page element or design elements that you think would perform better. The element you want to test is called the variable.
It’s best to use an A/B testing tool when developing web page variations to experiment on. We’ll cover some of the best split testing plugins for WordPress in the following section.
Step 6: Run the Tests
Now that everything’s in place, it’s time to run the tests to see which web page variation performs better. As your site’s visitors continue to visit your page, you’ll gather data about which variation get the highest conversion rates and meets the objectives you set in Step 2.
All you have to do is initiate the tests and wait out the duration calculated in Step 4 to allow the experiment to gather a decent data set.
Step 7: Analyze the Results
When the computed test duration is over, you can start to analyze the test results to see which web page variation performed better and gave the highest conversion rates. If you’re satisfied with the results, you can switch over to the winning web page variation design.
The A/B testing process is iterative in nature which essentially means that you can run the tests over and over again by following the same steps till you develop an optimal web page that gives the maximum conversion rates. Another thing you can do is try out combinations of page elements as variables. For instance, you can an opt-in form with a particular sales copy and then test out the same opt-in form with another sales copy in the next iteration.
Plugins to Help You Get Started
We’ve rounded up some of the best tools out there to help you perform A/B testing on your WordPress website.
The AB Press Optimizer integrates seamlessly with your WordPress site and enables users to create dozens of web page variations to split test on. With this premium plugin, you can test out various page elements on your website including buttons, forms, content blocks, and headlines. The plugin itself is easy to setup and you don’t have to be exceptionally tech-savvy to use it.
It enables webmasters to conduct as many experiments as they want with as many variations as they’d like. The plugin features real-time reporting that lets webmasters know the status of their tests and track conversions without having to leave the WordPress dashboard.
If you’re looking for a theme testing solution then WPMU DEV’s A/B Theme Testing is a great premium plugin that integrates with Google Analytics to let you split test two or more WordPress themes. The best part about this plugin is that it enables you to increase conversions and reduce the bounce rates without having to mess with code.
The A/B Theme Testing plugin enables webmasters to customize the theme variations and evenly distribute their visitors across them.
WordPress Calls to Action is a free, multipurpose plugin that lets you add custom call to actions (CTAs) to your WordPress site andsplit test them to see which one works best for you. With this plugin, you’ll be able to create your own CTAs and monitor their conversion rates from within your WordPress dashboard.
CTAs are a great way to boost conversion rates and when you split test them you can rest assured that you have a powerful design tool for your site.
Simple Page Tester is one of the, well, simplest A/B testing solutions out there for WordPress. This free plugin follows a three-step process to help you split test your web pages to test out your variations and find the one that converts the most.
The plugin is SEO friendly and cache compatible. You can try out the free plugin and when you’re ready to take things to the next level, it has a premium version that offers analytics and conversion tracking.
Nelio AB Testing is a popular WordPress plugin for conversion rate optimization and creating heatmaps. The plugin features a complete split testing management solution to help webmasters keep track of their experiments and create heatmaps based on the data acquired.
One of the standout features available with Nelio AB Testing is that it is WooCommerce compatible which means that you can optimize your e-store’s design too!
Wrapping It Up
A/B testing your WordPress website can improve your site’s conversion rates dramatically by helping you try out different variations of web pages, page elements, and design elements and then putting them in a live environment to collect real-world data.
Instead of getting caught up in the nitty-gritty design details based on guesses and hunches, you can make informed decisions about your site’s layout after analyzing visitors’ interaction behavior. By using one of the WordPress-specific solutions we covered in this post, you’ll be able to increase conversion rates and reduce bounce rates in no time!
Which A/B testing tools have you used to improve your site’s conversion rates? How was your experience with A/B testing your WordPress site? We’d love to hear from you so let us know in the comments section below!