A/B Testing: A Beginner’s Guide

January 29, 2023 Zahra Ijaz

If you are looking for a way to calculate the best online promotional and marketing strategies that are working for your business, A/B testing is a great method to do so.

No matter how much research you conduct, not every marketing campaign will get positive results.

Thus, you can make use of A/B Testing to test everything from website copy to sales emails.

This will allow you to find the best-performing version of your campaign before sending your entire budget on marketing materials that do not work.

While this method can be time-consuming, the advantages of A/B texting are enough to offset the time investment.

A well-planned A-B Testing can help you make a huge difference in the effectiveness o your marketing efforts.

Moreover, narrowing down and combining the most effective promotion can create a higher return on investments, lower risk of failure, and a strong marketing plan.


Keep on reading.

What is A/B Testing?

A/B testing is a marketing strategy that tends to compare two different versions of a website, advertisement, email, popup, or landing page against each other to see which one is most effective.

For instance, you may want to test two different popups to which one drives more webinar sign-ups.

Or you may want to see two different Google Ads to see which one drives more sales.

a/b testing 1

Moreover, this will provide you with key insights on where and how to invest your marketing budget and give to the courage to take potentially risky moves.

It is important to note that A/B testing can be valuable as different audiences behave differently.

Something that works for one company may not be working for another one.

In fact, conversion rate optimization. CRO experts that the term ‘est practices’ may not actually be the best one for you.

However, it kind of testing can be complex if you are not careful.

Working of A/B Testing

This type of testing works by randomly showing two versions of the same asset.

The asset can be an ad, website, popup, offer, etc.

The random part is important as this will provide you with more accurate information without skewing the results.

One version is the ‘control group’ or the version you are already using.

While the second version will change a single element.

You can change a number of elements, however, it does make it harder to tell what changes will make a difference.

This is called multivariate testing.

For instance, you may want to show half of your website visitors an orange ‘sign up’ button and the other half a red ‘sign up’ button.

After some time, often at least two weeks, you will compare conversion rates to see which color results in more sign-ups.

Moreover, a lot of marketers use a tool to create and display different versions. We’ll discuss these tools in a later section.

Why is A/B Testing Important?

It is important to note that an accurate a/b test can make a huge difference in your return on investments.

By using controlled tests and gathering empirical data, you can find out exactly which marketing strategies tend to work best for your company and your product.

In case there is a possibility that one variation is working two, three, or even four times better than the other one without pitting large capital risk, it is careless to run a promotion without testing first.

When you consistently perform it, this can help to improve your results substantially.

a/b testing 2

Moreover, if you know what works and what does not, and have proof to back it up as well, it will be easier to make decisions.

And craft more effective marketing strategies in the long run.

Some of the other benefits of running A/B tests on your website and marketing materials are:

Understand your Target Audience: When you understand what types of emails, headlines, and other features your audience responds to, you will gain insight into who your audience is and what they want.

Higher Conversion Rates: A/B testing is the single most effective way to increase conversion rates.

Understanding what tends to work and what does not will give you actionable data.

This will help you to streamline the conversion process.

Stay on top of Changing Trends: It is hard to predict what type of content, images, or other features people will respond to.

Testing regularly can help you stay ahead of changing consumer behavior.

Reduce Bounce Rates: When visitors on your site see content they like, they will stay on your site longer.

Testing to find out the type of content and marketing materials your users like can help you create a better site.

And one that users you want to stay on.

Finally, you will be regaining control of your marketing strategies.

No more closing your eyes, pressing the ‘send’ button, and hoping your customers will respond.

Planning an A/B Test

The first thing you need to do when planning an A/B test is to find what you want to test.

Are you running an on-site test or an off-site test?

If you are running an on-site test, you will need to think about all the sales-related pieces on your website and then find out which elements to split test.

You may want to test:

  • headlines
  • calls to action test
  • calls to action placements
  • pop-ups
  • featured images
  • copy
  • the number of fields in a form

On the other hand, for off-site tests, you will be testing either an ad or sales email.

Testing ad copy to see which ad will drive more conversions can help you focus your advertising efforts.

Moreover, once you know that your ad is converting well, it will be easier to justify spending more money on it.

The same is true for emails.


You will send out two versions to our list, randomly selecting which half gets which emails and then tracking which one covers better.

With emails, you can adapt your structure, email subject line, images used, or even your offers.

Understanding and knowing what your audience responds to best will allow you to write more effective emails in the long run.

Once you know what marketing material you want to A/B test, make a list of all the variables.

When you decide to test your call to action, you may wanna test the:

  • location
  • exact test used
  • button color or surrounding space

Moreover, A/B testing is a whole process and it is common to perform multiple slipt tests prior to making your final decision.

Checklist to Get Started

Before you start split testing, it is important that you have a clear idea of what results you are looking for.

You should understand your baseline results, which are the results you are getting currently.

You want to test two options, A and B against each other, however, you also want to know whichever will do better in the test.

On the other hand, you can use A as your control group, leaving whatever you are currently using and then something new for B.

You will need to run the test at the same time to account for variations in timing.

However, you cannot test one variation today and another one tomorrow as you cannot factor in any variable that may change between now and then.

Instead, you will need to split the traffic and see your variations at the same time.

Here’s an A/B testing checklist to review before you run your first test:

  • decide what feature you want to test
  • create two versions of the same feature, eg. ad, landing page, app, etc
  • decide on how long the test will run, experts recommend running the test for two weeks, however, it can vary depending on your traffic and industry
  • choose the testing tool to help you run your test
  • launch
  • take a look at the results after a few weeks and see which results won
  • rinse and repeat, as A/B testing tends to be more effective when you do it continually

What the Top Elements to Test

One of the important things to note is that you can virtually test anything in your marketing materials or on your website.

These include headlines, CTAs, body copy, images, navigation bar placements, etc.

Therefore, if you can change it, you can test it.

However, that does not mean you should spend months testing every little thing.

Instead, focus on changes that are most likely to have a big effect on your traffic and conversion.

This likely includes the headline, CTA, any graphic you use in direct correlation to your sales efforts, the sales copy or product descriptions, featured images, button size, and placement.

elements to check

While in an email, you may want to test the title, images, links, CTAs, or segmentation options.

In paid ads, especially a text ad like a search ad, you have a few things to change, so you may want to test the headline, the offer, the image, or the targeting.

Moreover, testing different offers is important.

Just make sure that each person is always offered the same promotion.

For instance, if you are offering a free gift to group A, and a discount to group B, then you want to make sure that group A always contains the same visitors as group B.

Furthermore, you can also test the full path of conversion.

You may want to test newsletter A with landing page A and newsletter B with landing page B.

Later, you may want to test newsletter a with landing page B and vice versa.

This will give you a better idea of what is working, especially if you are getting mixed results or if the results are very close.

Examples to Consider

Now that you have grasped the idea of A/B testing, what you can test, and how to do it; let’s look at a few examples:

GRENE horizontal layout on Category Pages

An Online retailer, GRENE, ran an A/B test to find out a way to make it easier for users to find the products they were looking for.

In the original version, the product took up the entire page on mobile devices.

Users were finding it difficult to scroll through the different options.

While the other variant reduced white space and allowed users to view a number of products and easily scroll through the available options.

Results: By changing the layout of category pages, GRENE saw a 15% increase in product box clicks, a 16% increase in conversion, and a 10% increase in visits to thank you pages.

This indicates that users made a purchase.

WlaaMonkeys Replacement of Slider with a Search Bar

An online all-decal website, WallMonkeys is intended to improve conversion rates and customer experience.

Using CrazyEgg’s heatmap, they were able to see where most customers looked first.

With that information, they decided to sway the slider featured image, for a search bar.

Results: By changing out featured images and moving the search bar to the middle of the page, they were able to increase their conversion rate by 550%.

The time it takes for A/B Testing

It is important to note that A/B testing is not an overnight project.

Depending on the amount of traffic you get, you will want to run tests for anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks.

Remember that you only want to run one test at a time for the most accurate results.

Moreover, running a test for an insufficient time can skew the results, so you do not get a large group of visitors to be statistically accurate.

Running a test for too long, on the other hand, will also give skewed results, though as there are more variables you cannot control over a longer period.

Therefore, make sure that you stay abreast of anything that may affect your test results.

So that you can take into account statistical anomalies in your results.

However, when in doubt, run the test again.

Considering the effect of A/B testing can have on your bottom line, it is worth taking a few weeks to properly conduct the test.

You can test one variable at a time and give each test enough time to run.

Analyzing A/B Testing Data

After conducting an A/B test, you will have a lot of data.

How do you know which version won? In some cases, the winner will be quite clear.

However, in some, it may not be clear.

Read on to make sure you know which version wins:

Make sure you have enough data: The best way to tell which variation will perform in the long run is to make sure you have at least 2 weeks of data.

Use an A/B testing significance calculator: Some tend to have a built-in A/B testing significance calculator.

Just add your visitor and conversion numbers, to see the variation in increased sales.

Look beyond obvious metrics: Not all metrics are equal.

In most cases, you will need to look at conversion rates and traffic.

However, for some businesses, you may want to pay attention to other matrices.

Tools to Try

You are not alone if you find A/B testing complex or complicated. A lot of marketers and business owners tend to avoid this test as it feels like too much work or they are worried they do something wrong.

Hopefully, the tips we discussed above will help you feel confident that you can do it correctly.

The tool you use often depends on the features you want to test.

For instance, if you want to test email headlines, your email provider will offer tools like MailChimp and Constant Contact.

Moreover, Facebook ads also offer this feature.

There are also some cheap or free tools that can help test website elements and help you understand which variant is most effective.

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