The Absolute Beginner’s Guide to A/B Split Testing

Have you ever spent hours trying to get the perfect headline for your blog post?

How about flipping coins to decide what color to make your buy button?

I hate to tell you, but trying to predict what is going to resonate with your audience… is impossible.

You can read every case study available… Read the tea leaves of every cup in Starbucks…

But without A/B Split Testing, you are just guessing.

In this article, I am going to break down the only way to consistently make forward progress with your marketing efforts. We will cover:

  • What A/B Split Testing Is
  • Why This is the ultimate way to improve your business over time
  • How to get started the easy way

Let's get to it!

What is A/B Split Testing?

A/B Split testing is a very common and powerful form of conversion rate optimization. It is a controlled experiment that you run on your website to determine what your audience responds well to.

The concept is very basic, but it can be very difficult to do without the right tools (don't worry, I've got you covered!).

But let's break it down a bit more to make it clear.

A practical example: Headline Optimization

You just finished writing an awesome blog post. You spent days crafting it, but you know from the research that unless you have a killer title to the post, nobody will click through to read the content!

So you decide to run an A/B split test to find the best title for the post.

You can brainstorm a few different ideas, like:

  1. The ultimate guide to dog biscuits
  2. What you probably didn't know about your dog biscuits (But it could be hurting your pooch!)
  3. The shocking truth about your dog biscuits

You get the idea 🙂

So when a new visitor comes across your blog, they would see your blog post. But here's the kicker – your A/B split test will randomly show one of the 3 titles above to the user.

It will then measure to see which blog post performed the best.

It can measure to see which title got the most clicks, the most time on page, and other key metrics.
That's one example of running a split test, but there are many other tests you can run in your business:

  • Lead Magnet Offers
  • Sales Funnel Pricing
  • Button Color
  • Video vs text sales page
  • And anything else you can dream of!

Why should you A/B split test in your website?

Regardless of what the gurus tell you – you simply don't know what is going to work every time.

Times change and people change. What might have worked great 3 years ago could completely tank today.

And even if something works in one industry doesn't mean it will work in yours.

You have a unique audience, a unique voice, and you need to learn what works best for you.

3 Benefits of A/B Split Testing

Make the most of your work. Whether it's a landing page, a sales page, or even a little blog post – you don't want to waste your time.

And the smallest tweak can have a big difference. So by running a simple split test, you can make sure that you maximize the results of your efforts every time.

Learn your audience. Like I mentioned before, you need to build your own bond with your audience.

A/B Split testing allows you to learn over time what seems to work consistenly with your audience.

Do they like emojis in their emails? Do they like ALL CAPS when talking to them?

These are all small little things when taken on their own. But when you add all the learning up of months and years of testing your audience, you earn a crystal clear view of how to speak to them to get maximum results.

Build strong marketing habits. The greatest companies in the world use A/B split testing religiously. The best way to grow is to do the things that these companies are doing.

When you have the right tools in place, you'll be able to run split tests in mere seconds or minutes, and reap all the rewards over time.

How to run your first A/B split test the easy way

At this point you should be ready to start split testing your online business. I'll walk you through the example above to start your first headline split test.

Step 1: Pick the right test

The first thing you need to do is decide what test is going to be worth the effort.

Does a green button convert better than a red button? Perhaps, but the impact on your conversion rate will hardly matter.

Instead, pick a test that truly matters, like:

  • Which headlines get people to actually read your blog posts?
  • Do videos or images get more people on your email lists?
  • What subject lines get people to click in your emails?
  • What price point for your product gets the most revenue?
  • Which lead magnet gets more sign ups?

In this example, we are going to test blog post headlines.

Step 2: Pick the right tool

Thrive Themes has a suite of WordPress plugins that help you run effective split tests. Headline Optimizer is the best way to improve your headlines.

So pick up the plugin (available for around $67) and install it in your WordPress dashboard.

Step 3: Brainstorm some great alternative titles

Seriously, the plugin does all the work except think of the titles for you!

Now's the time to use some creativity and think of the top 3-4 blog post titles you can for your particular article.

I know it's called A/B testing, but you can throw a C, D, or E into the mix as well to see which one performs the best.

Need some inspiration? This hubspot resource is a great way to use proven headlines to come up with ideas for your own.

Step 4: Create your split test in Thrive Headline Optimizer

In your Thrive Headline Optimizer dashboard, you can quickly create a new experiment by searching for your post.

Once the post is pulled up, simply add your headlines in, and click “go”. It's as easy as that.

Thrive will track user behavior and automatically select the best headline to run long term on your website.

Step 5: Review, Learn, and Improve

Every experiment is a learning opportunity. A few weeks after you run your test, check in on the data.

Check out which headline won, and try to figure out what pushed it to the top.

As you continue to run these tests, you will start to notice patterns in the data like a true scientist. This is the only true way that you can accurately predict what will work in the future.

By having the long track record of attempts, you'll learn what truly resonates with your audience, and you can capitalize on this every time.

Ready for more A/B Split Testing?

Headline optimization is a neat way to run tests, but it's not the most powerful.

If you want to split test entire landing pages with ease, check out my free mini course on conversion rate optimization where we dive into extreme depth to make you an expert in no time at all!

Sign up for CONVERT to learn even more ways to use a/B testing to your advantage

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