Know your A/B of Digital Marketing?

22 October 2015


If you are involved in Digital Marketing then you already know all about A/B testing and its role in producing higher conversion rates for your digital strategies. The goal with using A/B or split testing is to optimise your webpages so interest in them is increased e.g. more prospects clicking on a advert you have placed. This is done by creating changes in copy text, images, colours and layouts for the user interface.

The current webpage acts as the control –‘A’, and the test webpage with one of these elements changed, acts as ‘B’. The test is performed on your target audience and numbers of those responding to the call to action are compared. If the test webpage B proves to be more successful then you are going to be using this one. Simple.  Perhaps though you take the testing further and try to segment your audience. Are you going to find different results with men /women and different demographics? One thing to bear in mind is your goal and to stick to it, experimenting from your control null hypothesis. This might be as in the Obama campaign, ‘less copy is better’ which was tested by removing copy from different areas.

So let’s have a brief look at the elements you may like to test.

Copy text

The copy text and call to action buttons need to convey value and momentum to the customer. They need to know what they are getting from clicking on the advert. It is not about brilliant wordsmiths waxing lyrical, it is about getting the value across to the customer…”what’s in it for me?”. Changes to copy can provide the biggest change to ROI so it is worth spending time testing this in particular.

Pronoun A/B testing from Content Verve

A simple one borrowed from Micheal Aagaard demonstrates clearly how a change in one word led to significantly less reactions.


So which button are you going to use… ‘Learn More’, ‘Join Us Now’, ‘Get started’or ‘Sign up Now’? You need to apply the Science and test!


Dinner with Obama
This image from dinner with Barack campaign was hugely successful. Photo by Pete Marovitch

Whether or not to use an image is yet another decision. Certainly if you are a shopper on Amazon or buying clothing online the conversion rates are much higher if the item is displayed. It is worth noting than when selling clothing, conversion is slightly better when the clothing is modelled by a human. Be careful of using bland or stock images especially if you overcrowd your page and push the important sign up area from centre stage. Are you going to try placing text within the image? It could bring your message into focus more quickly but bet the designers won’t like it…


What colour are you going to choose for your call to action button? The all action attention grabbing Red, the positive momentum of Green for go or the oh so colour of the moment orange? Well, as expected the red button wins out every time. Or does it? What’s important is the amount this button stands out from the other visuals in your page. Does it have some nice white space around it? Are you using a  red button in a webpage that is has a predominantly red themed background , well done… you have camouflaged it nicely!


One of the areas that the Obama team worked on (naturally !) was removing the barriers to donations on their campaign website. They tweaked at the form through testing and came up with a formula that increased donations. Filling in forms is a frustrating process to all of us especially when parting with our hard earned cash. Endless fields of information, mandatory fields and errors all turn it into a painful process. The team sequenced the form to make it a stepwise process and cleverly asked for the donation amount first so you were already invested. I strongly advise you to read the account from Kyle Rush of the process.

There are many tools out there to help you perform A/B testing such as Optimizely ( used in Obama’s first campaign) , Google Website Optimiser and Clickthroo or indeed its more complex cousin Multivariate testing .

So if you would rather not leave your conversion and click through rates to chance and your design choices be based on data not esoterics then give A/B testing a go!

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