Split testing, also known as A/B testing, is essential to successful conversion rate optimisation of any website. Split testing involves having two (or more) variations of a page with slight or major differences between them. Send an equal amount of website visitors to both the original and variation of the page, and use the number of conversions or revenue generated by each variation to determine which is the most successful and should be used going forward.
For example, this test which is featured on the Visual Website Optimizer blog had two headline variations and the following results:
As you can see, the second version of the web page outperformed the first version with a higher conversion rate and enough data to ensure that this result is statistically significant.
By continuously split testing your website or landing pages you can continue to improve the conversion rate and therefore results of all marketing campaigns with less guess-work. So which software or platform should you use to accurately split test?
It is possible to write your own split testing code, however I have found that the features offered by professional software platforms far outweigh the cost savings of writing the code yourself. There is a wide range of software options available and each have a number of different features. My favourite three are outlined below.
Starts From: $19 per month for websites with 2,000 monthly visitors.
Visual Website Optimizer
Visual Website Optimizer was created by Wingify, based in India. Their platform allows easy A/B testing where multiple editing options allow you to change any part of your website with no knowledge of HTML. Visual Website Optimizer has a big focus on Multivariate testing which allows you to run multiple tests on different elements of your web page at once. Also offered is heat and click maps which provide insights into where people are clicking from directly in VWO’s platform so you can determine issues and plan future split tests. Other features that are offered include split URL testing, behavioral & geo targeting segmentation, usability testing and mobile/tablet segmentation.
Starts From: $49 per month for websites with 10,000 monthly visitors.
Google used to offer a service known as Google Website Optimiser which was fast, free and quite easy to use. This has now been integrated into the Google Analytics platform and is known as Google Content Experiments. Google Analytics allow you to test up to five versions of a webpage with all versions having to be on separate URLs. When setting up an experiment you select a Google Analytics goal which you likely already have set up, and then you can see which variation generates the highest conversion rate. One major limitation currently in place is that you can only pick one goal which means that if one variation increases one goal but decreases another not reported in the test substantially you may make incorrect assumptions. Google Analytics is the best free split testing option available and can be a great place to start. However, if you are serious about improving your conversion rate I would recommend you use one of the paid options mentioned earlier.
Whichever software you decide to use is up to you and your end goals. What is important is that you start testing now as it takes time to build statistically significant results and one successful result could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars on your marketing costs. If you know of any other split testing providers that you think should be featured here please let me know in the comments below.