What is A/B Testing and How Does My Content Get a Passing Grade?

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A/B testing doesn’t involve evaluating your content and offering up a pass or fail grade—A/B testing is an experiment during which you compare how two versions of your content perform. Also called split testing, the process lets you determine which version of your email, social media, or web marketing content drives more traffic, conversions, or revenue so you can increase content marketing ROI.

You can restrict testing to specific portions of content, such as headlines or email subjects, test an entire landing page, or test Tweets or Facebook statuses to determine which posts or post times perform best.

Steps for A/B Testing

Begin A/B testing with a brainstorming session. Ask yourself or your team:

  • What content do you want to test?
  • Why do you want to test the content?
  • What does success look like? How do you measure whether one version is more successful than another?

For best results, select measurements that are numeric: content drives more people, results in more organic links, converts more users, or sells more product.

Next, create two versions of the content you want to test. Avoid making two extremely different versions of content; you gain more insight when you change one or two things at a time. Change up keywords, tone, content length, headers, images, page design, or the time you post, for example, but don’t change them all at once.

Make both versions of the content live at the same time or run both versions for the same period of time, controlling as many of the other elements as you can to ensure the tests are as similar as possible. Review the results to see which version of the content generates the best results.

Using the winning content, make new tweaks and run the test again. A/B testing isn’t a one-and-done approach: your goal should be to continuously test and tweak content for ever-improving results.

A/B Testing Tools

While you can handle A/B content testing manually, the process becomes tedious in a continuous improvement environment. Use A/B testing tools, such as Optimizely or Google Analytics Content Experiments, to reduce the work associated with A/B testing. Some testing tools include:

  • Optimizelywhich offers a reasonably priced A/B testing solution that requires you to add some code to your site. Once code is added, you can use the Optimizely dashboard to design, run, and analyze tests. You are limited to the number or size of tests you can run, but Optimizely offers a free trial so you can check out the options.
  • Google Analytics Content Experiments, which is a free service for Google Analytics users. You have to set up the variations of content yourself and can only run simple split tests. The tool takes advantage of Google Analytics to deliver some pretty impressive reports about your test, though.
  • Visual Website Optimizer, or VWO, which is another paid product that helps you tweak your site and analyze results. The tool requires a monthly subscription but does come with some support options.

Other A/B testing tools to check out include Five Second Test, Convert Experiment, KISSmetrics, and AB Tasty.

Writer Bio: Sarah S has a background in Six Sigma process improvement, which provides her with an appreciation for numbers as well as words. When managing client content, she knows data helps dictate winning content.


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