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The Case for A/B Testing

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on July 12, 2010

You have a small business. You don’t have deep resources for marketing research, but you do have good ideas, an eagerness to experiment, and a website. That means you have almost everything you need to build a testing ground for new strategies. An A/B testing tool might be the one ingredient you lack, and it’s worth getting.

In addition to providing valuable information to prospects, your website offers a potential focus group for critical-business initiatives. With cost effective solutions, small businesses can use A/B testing to evaluate online and offline initiatives. Consider the following:

1. Test-drive different promotions. Are prospects swayed when presented with an offer for a 20 percent discount or do you see better results with a buy-one-get-one-free promotion? Do the results differ by region?
2. Determine the effectiveness of messaging. Are customers more influenced by a list of product benefits or by an image of a happy customer? Which adjectives in your copy tend to spark the greatest consumer excitement? Do results differ among new and returning visitors?
3. Select the most appealing art. A/B testing clarifies whether a picture of a tennis shoe attracts more page views than an image of a tennis racket, or whether customers are more engaged by the sight of people using a product than by a photo of the product itself. To personalize promotions, you can further segment results by factors such as customer age or which search engine they use.
4. Gauge website functionality. Does the location of your search box or shopping cart icon affect average purchase amounts per customer?
5. Avoid costly, erroneous strategies. Rolling out a marketing plan is a major investment and not one that should be initiated before testing its viability. Your website provides a platform for previewing the likely result of any new effort in a safe, cost-effective environment.

Trying something new poses risk, and many small businesses do not have comfortable cushions for risk. A/B testing enables companies of all sizes to reap the benefits of innovation without suffering the consequences of blind trials.

Rita Brogley
Chief Executive Officer
Evanston, Ill.

Reader Comments


July 22, 2010 6:52 PM

I think its worth starting with tools like Google Site Optimizer or there free and easy to use to start testing before getting an expensive tool.

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