Pros and Cons of Internet Marketing AB Tests
What would happen if we changed a simple element on our landing page? How about we add more text or change our prices? What will happen? These are hypothetical situations that partners and spouses running businesses together will argue endlessly about, and there is absolutely no reason for it. In internet marketing you can have your cake and eat it too. There are some very simple ways to find out what works and what doesn’t. The question is which method to use to get the most useful results.
Enter the world of A/B testing. It is a concept that has existed for longer than the Internet. It was used with direct mail to test different offers and layouts. It has been tested in newspapers, magazines, and even on billboards in the past to measure response rates. On the Internet it is more technologically advanced, but the goal remains the same. Measure two similar products or offers against each other and see which one will make you more money.
The pros and cons of A/B testing are also the same as always. For the test to produce a true result, you can only change one item. Offering two completely different landing pages to the world may tell you which one converts better, but it won’t tell you why. The answer you really want with A/B testing is which element of the design change produces the result. A simple color change, additional content, or price change is a good factor to test in an A/B setup, but all three won’t let you track which one is making a difference.
Another downside of A/B testing is that it doesn’t provide any behavioral data. You can run two landing pages with a different price and track how many product units are sold for each quantity, but you still won’t know why. What is the reason that visitors will buy a product for $40 but not pay $50 for it? What if the result is the opposite and more units are sold at the higher price? Is that enough data to make the decision to increase your prices across the board? If you don’t know why the higher price was more successful, that increase could cost you dearly in the long run.
On the plus side, A/B testing is most useful when used with other tests that measure things like behavior, demographics, and the economic climate. What works today may not work tomorrow when everyone’s financial situation is a little better (or worse). Knowing why people do what they do is the most valuable information an internet marketer can have. Set up a series of tests and combine your results to get an idea of what your market is doing. Call it A to Z testing. It’s much more effective than a simple A/B.