After you’ve made the investment to design and build your web product, and you’ve let it run out into the wilderness, it is natural to wonder whether it is doing what was intended. Examining reports on your traffic, page visits, bounce rates, and which pages are being viewed most often using tools like Google Analytics can be a good start to understanding the impact of your web product. What do you do if you find an area with high bounce rates? How do you know that your messaging is converting as many people as possible? At Ballistiq, our user experience team likes to answer these questions by using A/B tests.
A/B testing is a comparison of two slightly different variants. If you want to know whether you’ve chosen a color that welcomes your audience you could test two different color variants of the same site or page. A/B testing is moderated by a software tool that allows each user engaging with the area of your web product that you are testing to be presented with one possible variant without knowing another variant exists. Ideally, there’s a 50/50 split between the two variants. Test results can then provide clues to which of the variants was better able to achieve your desired outcome. A/B testing can be used to evaluate visual design aspects of a site as well as messaging.
You can expand your testing to test multiple variants of an area of your site (multivariate testing) but this must be done carefully because it can introduce complexity into analyzing the test results and understanding your outcomes.
In March 2017, Google announced the release of their Google Optimize tool to the public after almost 2 years of beta testing. Google Optimize joins the suite of tools available to users of Google Analytics for free. Enterprise users can obtain additional functionalities using Google Optimize 360.
For most small to mid-sized businesses the free version has all the tools needed for an effective A/B test.
With Google Optimize you can run multiple A/B, multivariate and/or redirect testing on your site. Google Optimize can link with Google Analytics to enhance the insights of A/B testing.
Some key highlights of Google Optimize include:
- Easy to setup
- Smooth integration with Google Analytics
- Visual (WYSIWYG) editor
- Great set of targeting options
- Intuitive reporting
To get started, just copy/paste the code that Google Optimize provides you to the pages you're planning to test. That's it. As easy as 1-2-3.
While setting up your test you can connect it with Google Analytics goals. You can either choose an existing goal or create a new one. Google Analytics will track your conversion rates for you.
You can create variants for testing without coding support. Google Optimize provides a visual editor which is easy to use and powerful. For example, if you’d like to test the the impact of two different Calls to Action on your page, you click on the element, change the text, styling, some other attributes and you're done. Optimize will ensure visitors see one of the variants you have created just like that.
Google provides a really great set of targeting options for your experiments. You can target your variants depending on geolocation of the users, their browsers, operating system (OS), behaviour, query parameters, etc. This is the power of having Analytics standing behind your A/B test.
Simple charts & general stats are easy to understand and give you a powerful overview of your experiments with zero effort.
We've run Google Optimize with ArtStation to understand how lead images on the Pro Account features page change conversion rates. We’ve also tested whether the way pricing is displayed affects conversion rates.
The results were interesting. We tested 3 different lead images which did influence conversion rates. This allowed us to select a lead image that provided the highest conversion rates. Showing pricing in a way that allowed users to compare various plans created higher conversion rates during our pricing experiment.
Google suggests running experiments for at least 2 weeks to get good insights into your user behaviors and dynamics. For sites with a lot of traffic, this might be enough data. For smaller sites you might want to run your experiment for 3 - 6 months.
If you are curious to know more about the impact your web products are having, consider reaching out to the Ballistiq user experience team to learn whether A/B testing might provide you with great insights. Ballistiq’s Professional Services team also creates sophisticated A/B testing for some clients needing additional features beyond those provided by Google Optimize.