A/B Split Testing: Increase Click-Through Rates (CTR) on Websites, Email Marketing and PPC Advertisements
Let’s assume you own an e-commerce website and want to increase your conversion rates on website visits, in addition to improving your click-through rates (CTR) on your email marketing newsletters and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising plans. So, what method would you use to increase the performance of your website and all of your digital advertising strategies? Well, when it comes to increasing CTR, the best possible strategy involves using an A/B split test.
Understanding the Methodical A/B Split Test
The A/B split test is a simple and easily-understood way of optimizing a given website, email marketing newsletter or PPC advertisement. The process involves making individual changes to a website’s design or advertising campaign and then tracking the impact of that single change on CTR. Here is a simple step-by-step process to using the A/B split test followed by a summary table about how the A/B split test would unfold.
1. Establish a Reference Point
You need to define a baseline in order to measure the success or failure of future changes. Start by defining your current traffic volume, your website’s conversion rate, and or your email newsletter’s and PPC campaign’s current CTR. A good idea is to create an image of your current layout for future reference, and separate images each time you make a single change. These can be simple .jpg images.
2. Compare the Same Traffic Volumes
It’s always best to compare similar traffic volumes. If you’re testing a website, then make sure you compare layouts on a weekly or monthly basis with the same volume of visitors. The same rule applies when you are trying to improve the performance of your PPC campaigns and email newsletters. If possible, try and compare similar customer segments and or demographics. However, this is not a perquisite to success.
3. One Change at a Time
It’s extremely important that you only make one change at a time. This allows you to track which change had a positive or negative affect on CTR. Making multiple changes at one time won’t allow you to define which change had the desired result of optimizing your layout.
4. Keep Diligent Notes
It’s critical that you keep diligent notes about the types of changes and the resulting effect on CTR. The accompanying table (below) is a good example of how you can define each change and the resulting movement in CTR.
5. Never Stop Testing
The A/B split test is never a one-time event. It’s not static or stationary. It’s constantly evolving and finding that optimized layout takes a lot of trial and error. You’ll eventually maximize your CTR and find the ideal layout to your design. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t test again at a later date. In the end, it’s all about increasing revenue and that takes time and a lot of testing.
A/B Split Test Example
The table below outlines how a company would split their website’s visitors over a three month period in order to optimize their site’s layout. In this case, the company has 45,000 monthly visitors to its website and it is testing one single change at a time each month.
The company defines its reference point as its original layout. With this current design, the company achieves 45,000 monthly visitors and averages 425 clicks for a CTR of 0.94%. Obviously, the company wants to increase its conversion rates. Success means more orders and higher revenue.
In each month, the company makes one single change and then measures the impact on their conversion rates. For instance, in the first month (January) the company decided to move its advertisement from the bottom of its website to the right sidebar. They had 45,000 visitors and saw an increase of 30 additional clicks to 455 which resulted in a CTR of 1.01%. This is simply 455 clicks divided by the 45,000 visitors.
It becomes fairly obvious that the changes made in March did not improve CTR. As such, those changes will be reversed. However, the company will continue to make one change at a time and measure CTR. For now, the change made in February resulted in the best CTR so the company may try and improve upon those results or return to this test at a later date.
Using an A/B split test is a must when looking to increase your marketing return on investment (ROI). It’s ultimately about finding that all-important layout where CTR is maximized. In addition, anything on a website can be tested. You can use this strategy to test different images, videos, fonts, advertisements and or banner placements. Just make sure you track results and keep notes for future reference.