Everything eCommerce Merchants Need to Know About A/B Testing

June 1, 2021
| by Rebecca Fox

Creating an exceptional user experience isn’t just about predicting what will attract and convert potential customers – you need to have tangible insights into what your target audience actually wants.

With A/B testing you can drastically improve your customers’ online shopping experience, resulting in better click-through rates, conversions, customer loyalty, and more.

When done well, A/B testing can be a powerful way to improve your business’s most critical metrics.

What is A/B Testing?

A/B testing, also known as split testing, presents 50% of users with an alternate version of a webpage in order to test the effectiveness of a particular variable. The idea is to see which of the two options achieves better results. 

A simple example of A/B testing is creating two different web design variations, and each customer will be shown one of two different landing pages. By comparing conversion rates of the two different versions of the page, you can see which is more effective.

Things that can be tested by A/B testing include:

  • Which product page layout is better for conversion?
  • Does offering free return shipping make customers buy more?
  • Where should the call-to-action button be located?
  • What images and video clips do customers prefer seeing?

Using actionable data, you can get a feel of how your customers react to certain scenarios and what needs to be changed to improve the customer experience and conversion rates. 

Who Should Use A/B Testing?

Everyone in the eCommerce industry can benefit from A/B testing, from marketers to web designers to business owners. The largest companies in the world are constantly A/B testing right under your nose. 

Consider Amazon, which grew from being a small eCommerce store that sold books to being the largest online retailer in the world. Amazon’s success can be attributed largely to CEO Jeff Bezos’s enthusiasm for constantly testing, experimenting, and innovating the way the company works.

Look at the ways Amazon has revolutionized the online shopping experience:

  • One-click ordering.
  • Dash buttons that allow you to reorder products simply by pressing a button.
  • Fast and free shipping.
  • Personalized recommendations.

These innovations were not accidental – they were the result of multivariate testing and making decisions based on their results.

If you want to increase your conversion rates, A/B testing is the best way to discover insights that will guide you in the right direction.

How A/B Testing Works

A/B testing may sound like a complex process but it’s actually quite simple. 

Let’s break down the steps of creating an A/B test:

1. Do the Research

Look at your competitors and analyze your store’s internal data to look for areas that could be improved with testing.

2. Form the Hypothesis

What is it you want to test and why? Based on your findings or even on a gut feeling, make an assertion to be tested. 

Do you have a gut feeling that if you changed your Facebook page button from ‘click here’ to ‘shop now’ you might get more clicks? Can’t decide whether to have 4 products per row or 5? Test it.

A hypothesis is measurable, aspires to solve a specific conversion problem, and focuses on insights instead of wins.

3. Determine the Variable

Before starting an A/B test, you need to get an idea of your baselines. You can use a tool like Google Analytics to understand your customers’ current behavior patterns. 

For example, if your goal is to increase clickthrough rates on your landing page, look at your current rate.

Remember that A/B testing is a kind of scientific experiment and needs proper controls in order to reach an accurate conclusion.

4. Set the Parameters

Once you’ve got the details of your objectives and know your baseline, you’ll need to set key performance indicators (KPIs), which will help you define the success or failure of the test. 

For example, if your objective is to reduce returns on a certain product, the obvious KPI would be the number of times that product was returned.

5. Launch the Test 

Begin the test and record your findings. There are many A/B testing tools you can use to make this easier.

6. Analyze the Results

After you’ve run the test, you’ll be able to see which option was most successful. From this, you can decide whether to go with the successful option or tweak the test and try it again to get a more definitive answer.

If you crafted your hypothesis well, even a “failed” test is a success, because you’ll gain insights you can use for future tests and in other areas of your eCommerce business. 

There’s always something to learn from an A/B test.

Benefits of A/B Testing

Save Money and Increase Profits

With A/B testing you can put your money where it’s going to make the most sense, rather than taking a blind leap of faith and hoping for the best. 

A/B testing increases your profits by helping you make decisions that you know will pay off. 

Identify Issues

Many marketing campaigns fail because of small errors. You can use A/B testing to identify these errors so that your business can run smoothly.

Improve Your Content and Brand Image

There are a lot of options to choose from when creating content including written content, visual content, etc. A/B testing can help you determine what works best.

A/B testing also lets you get rid of processes or steps that leave a bad impression on customers.

Improve KPIs

Your KPIs can be largely impacted by A/B testing in the long run. From ROI on ads to customer acquisition or even email signups.

Conclusion

A/B testing is all about making the eCommerce shopping experience better for customers. Anywhere you can remove friction for your customers can be looked at and studied.

The beauty of A/B testing is that you can do as many tests as you like, and work through the long list of things you want to test to get results and improve your conversion rates.

One of the most powerful and effective ways to drive eCommerce growth is A/B testing. Use A/B testing to get insights into what your customers really want so you never have to play the guessing game.

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