How to Run an A/B Test to Improve Your CRO

Excerpt from Shane Barker, digital marketing consultant and regular contributor to Salesforce, Yahoo Small Business, and more.

Want to increase conversions, but not sure where to begin? What if there’s something about your website, landing pages, or marketing emails that’s negatively affecting your conversion rate? Before you can improve your CRO (conversion rate optimization), you first need to figure out what’s wrong. And A/B testing can help.

A/B Testing Basics

Before you start A/B testing (sometimes called split testing), you need to analyze user behavior on your site. You can use heatmaps and on-page surveys to do this. The goal is to determine why people aren’t converting. Maybe your CTA (call-to-action) button isn’t visible enough, or your sign-up form is too long.

Use this information to form a hypothesis. What changes do you think will drive more conversions? For example, your hypothesis may be that, “Changing the color of the CTA button will increase conversions.”

The next step is to create a variation (of your landing page, CTA button, etc.) based on your hypothesis. Then test how well it performs compared to the original. The variation that drives the most conversions is the version you need to implement in your CRO strategy.

In some cases, you may find little or no difference between how well the two variations perform. In which case you’ll need to create a new hypothesis to test.

What Should You Test to Improve CRO?

Split testing can help you analyze the performance of pretty much all aspects of your website, emails, and marketing campaigns. However, you probably don’t have the time or budget to test each and every element. Instead, try testing the elements that are likely to have the biggest impact on your conversions. Here are 7 elements you can A/B test for conversion rate optimization:

1. Test Your Headlines

Headlines are one of the first things visitors will notice on your site. So your landing page should have a snappy and relevant headline that immediately catches their attention. It should be compelling enough to make visitors want to read more, and eventually convert. In a BEHAVE (previously WhichTestWon) case study, changing the headline for a business course landing page helped increase conversions by 6.49%.

Here’s the variation that won:

And here’s the other variation:

If you compare the two headlines, you can see that the winning variation includes a specific dollar amount. The headline helps visitors visualize the amount of money they could make per month rather than just making their “first dollar.”

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