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Do You Prefer 'A' or 'B'? Use Testing to Improve Marketing

use a-b testing to improve marketing

Have you visited the optometrist lately? Then these words should sound familiar:  “Which is better: Option A? Or B? Number 1? Or Number 2?” Finding the perfect prescription can make all the difference for those of us with less than 20/20 vision.

Did you know you can apply that same “Is it A? Or is it B?” approach to finding the best fit to your marketing as well?

What is A/B Testing?

Also known as split testing, A/B testing is a way to analyze two versions of a marketing tool to identify which option yields a better response rate. In this context, the existing version of the element that is being tested is the “control,” and the version you believe will give a better result is called the “treatment.”

With the integrated marketing software products available today, A/B testing to improve marketing can be easy to set up and evaluate, with very little cost for implementation. Most content management and customer relationship management systems, including HubSpot include options for A/B testing the landing pages, emails and other elements created on their systems. Businesses such as Optimizely and KISSmetrics focus specifically on testing and analysis.

Why Conduct A/B Testing?

A/B testing can give you measurable data about what works best, rather than simply relying on intuition. The insights stemming from split tests can drastically improve the conversion rates of your landing pages and the click-through rates of your calls-to-action and email campaigns.

In fact, HubSpot research has shown that A/B testing of landing pages can generate up to 30-40 percent more leads for B2B sites and 20-25 percent more leads for e-commerce sites.  (Click to tweet!




Analyzing A/B test results and using them to drive continual improvement can give you a huge competitive advantage, especially if your competitors aren’t doing A/B testing right. And research says they aren’t. According a 2011 MarketingSherpa survey, only 40 percent of marketers validate their test results.  (Click to tweet!)

What Can I Test?

You can A/B test just about every element of your lead generation campaign, as whole elements or as individual characteristics. Here are few to get you started:

  • Landing page (overall page)

  • Landing page headline

  • Landing page form length

  • Call-to-action color

  • Call-to-action placement

  • Call-to-action copy

  • Call-to-action graphic

  • Email format

  • Email layout

  • Email timing

  • Email sender

  • Email subject lines

  • Email target group 

But the key to getting accurate results is to test only one element at a time. If you try testing multiple variables (e.g. both the sender and the subject line in an email), you will have trouble analyzing the results to determine which variable was responsible for any difference in response rates.

Setting up, running and analyzing the results of A/B testing for your marketing campaigns is going to take much longer than finding that perfect prescription for your eyes. But if you are willing to stick with it, you (and your boss!) will love the answer to “Can you read the bottom line?” M O R E   R O I

Ready to get started? Find 10 guidelines for effective A/B testing, along with step-by-step instructions in our free ebook An Introduction to A/B Testing for Marketing Optimization.  Download it here.

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