A/B testing is a tool used more and more frequently by web professionals. The principle is relatively simple: you create different variations of your web pages in order to statistically test which ones works best. Modifying a colour, the layout, a slogan: you can fine-tune the page design to find out which one is most suited to your visitors.
A/B testing can earn you four times as much if you use its benefits as best you can to optimise your landing pages and marketing and affiliate marketing campaigns. Now let’s review which best practices and stages to follow!
How does A/B testing work?
Although A/B testing is a regular practice for e-commerce sites, it is not always an obvious solution for publishers. After all, it doesn’t fully master the conversion funnel. Their role consists, first and foremost, in finding a qualified audience, displaying offers or interesting content, increasing customer loyalty and providing affiliated links likely to meet their needs. The sales rep will do the rest.
Publishers, you don’t have a say on the product, the advertiser’s website, the purchasing process, the customer experience etc. Yes, but… don’t missout on numerous opportunities….
Organise an effective A/B testing session
A/B testing allows you to optimise your affiliate marketing campaigns and develop your performance marketing approach. A link or an advert will receive more clicks if it is well placed, with good composition and displayed at the right time. Your approach should therefore be twofold::
- an A/B test on sources and advert formats in order to choose and prioritise effective tools and to generate a better quality and less expensive traffic
- an A/B test on your web content to personalise the landing pages and improve your conversion rate
Formulating assumptions: prepare variants and organise your A/B Testing schedule
Before storming ahead with your eyes closed, take the time to clearly define your objectives and expectations. For example, having a blue CTA button instead of a green one may increase the click rate by 10%. On the other hand, take the time to only test one assumption at a time so you don’t skew the analysis. There’s no point working chaotically. It’s better to proceed using microsurgery and to take the time to analyse the results. Focus on the most important pages and landing pages that web users will reach first.
Improvement through iteration: even if you’re satisfied with the results, don’t stop at V2!
The higher the traffic, the more effective and faster the results of you A/B test will be. To ensure that a test is statistically meaningful on a page with little or moderate traffic, it’s best to give it a little more time or to make modifications through iteration. First, a button, then a title, a call-to-action button or a visual then a form field etc.
Defining your schedule in advance is essential for setting up this experience and monitoring the effectiveness of each variant of your page point by point.
Adapt the content to your source…and not the other way around
There are various types of web-user behaviour, and users come from various different places. Therefore, you need to be able to organise your A/B testing campaigns according to each source of traffic in order to carry out more effective tests.
The importance of segmentation
In practical terms, don’t handle a visitor coming from a Facebook ad in the same way as one who has clicked on a link in your latest newsletter. A landing-page variant may therefore have excellent results depending on the form, tone and style of the previous content. To do this, you should be able to record the source of the visit with, for example:
- UTM codes: this provides the maximum detail on the source of your visits. By clicking on a link with several UTM parameters, data is sent to Google Analytics allowing you to track where you visitors are coming from.
- Complete tagging of your page to monitor audience events and actions. Why? To more accurately monitor how people view certain blocks, when they hover over a zone, what links they click, and even when they click on blocks without links, to understand what to do to improve the user experience.
- Conversion pixels to ensure you monitor several conversion pages, conversion funnels at several stages, etc.
Write for your buyer personas and their screens
Adapting the content to the source is essential, because in addition to the effectiveness of a page, there are also socio-demographic criteria to take into account. A young person browsing on their iPhone will not have the same expectations as forty-something on their laptop. The ability to analyse A/B testing very precisely allows you to take action on all your pages to maximise the potential of your affiliate marketing links using tools specific to your target audiences.
Test your incentives and calls-to-action
An incentive (or call-to-action) may be seen as a service that you’re providing web users so they can then purchase or find out about a product or service via a sponsored link that you provide. You are the point of reference. You generate confidence and adopt a clear tone and editorial line.
This affiliate marketing link may also be displayed on other websites. Why would a visitor come via your website rather than another? What incentive are you offering them? Access to a privileged site, a discount on a product or service, exclusive access to information… use your imagination and a good A/B test to push the right incentive at the right time and in the right place.
Start your test: adopt a micro and macro approach to studying interactions
Once you have launched your A/B test, take the time to analyse the results. In fact, you need to take a double-look at this work: on a macro level as well as a micro level.
The biggest risk, if the click rate doesn’t take off, is that you may need to revolutionise your page design.
Yet, you need to take the time to see things on a granular level, within your very conversion funnel. The impact of an A/B test can be found on a micro level. For example, a longer visiting time on the page, more clicks on internal pages, an analysis of links clicked depending on the time of day, or the source of the visit etc.
A process of continuous improvement
By constantly adjusting your page, with iterations based on reliable statistics, you’ll be able to decipher trends that will shape the contours of your new page. Once you have finished the analysis, you then simply need to put your new page into production and continue your A/B test elsewhere.
Finally, aim high! An A/B test is a continuous process. The lessons learned from the first test will help guide you on other assumptions on other pages with a specific clientèle. Think of A/B tests as vitamins that you take all year long. That’s how you can boost your performance marketing and go even further with your affiliate marketing campaigns!