Want to increase conversions, but not sure where to begin? What if there’s something about your website, landing pages, or marketing emails that are negatively affecting your conversion rate? Before you can improve your CRO (conversion rate optimization), you first need to figure out what’s wrong. And website A/B testing can help.Website A/B testing involves comparing the performance of two different versions of something, (like a web page, email, or ad), to find out which one performs better. It is an effective method for determining which version drives the most conversions. Which means that website A/B testing can help you improve your website’s conversion rates.
A/B Testing Basics
Before you start your website A/B testing (sometimes called split testing), you need to analyze user behavior on your site. You can use heat maps and on-page surveys to do this. The goal is to determine what’s stopping your website visitors from converting. Maybe your CTA (call-to-action) button isn’t visible enough, or your sign-up form is too long. Or it could be something entirely different that you didn’t even account for.
Website A/B testing can help you identify these things and form a hypothesis about the changes that may 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 you show your original landing page to half the website visitors and the variant to the other half. Then compare how well it performs against 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 and repeat the process until you see a notable difference in performance.
What Should You Test to Improve CRO?
Website A/B 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 6 aspects you need to look at while doing your website A/B testing:
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.”
Ways in which you can improve your headlines:
- Use statistics and numbers to make it more impactful
- Keep it short and precise
- Highlight key user benefits
- Highlight your USP
- Use larger font sizes and more attractive colors for headlines
- Show an achievement or a success story
2. Sales Copy and Product Descriptions
While your headlines should attract visitors, your sales copy should close the sale. The copy on your home or landing page should inform visitors about the features of your product/service, and how they can benefit from it. It should be educational and enticing at the same time. The same goes for your product descriptions.
Take a look at how the Buffer homepage is all about the visitor. Instead of talking about what the tool can do, it focuses on what people can do using the tool.
And the description of Buffer’s features isn’t about what the tool does. It’s about how users can benefit from using it.
Key things to include in your sales copy and product descriptions:
- Focus on the user, not the product.
- List the product’s features and functionalities clearly.
- Highlight the benefits that users will derive from your product or service.
- State the problem that your product or service will help solve.
- Provide information on all physical aspects of your product like material, dimensions, etc.
- Use bullets and keep the points precise, to make it easy to read.
While doing your website A/B testing, these aspects will help you in deciding what elements you should change to create the different variations.
3. Design and Layout
Your website design may look amazing, but it’s possible that it’s too distracting. It may be preventing visitors from focusing on the action you want them to take.
Your site design should ideally be clean and minimal, with a focus on the most important elements—like sales copy and CTA. It should also be easy for users to navigate, which means you may also need to build a responsive website to adapt to different devices.
Apply the data from your user behavior tests to build different design and layout variations for website A/B testing.
Let’s say you ran a heatmap test and found that your site visitors are rarely navigating the area where you’ve placed your sign-up form. Then you could test the form in an area where visitors are most active.
ConversionXL helped Truckers Report execute website A/B testing by changing their landing page’s layout. They realized that the left side of the screen was more active, so they kept their copy there.
They also made some design changes like bigger background images, CTA placement at the bottom, more prominent headline etc. This helped them improve their conversion rate by 79.3%Here’s what the old website looked like:
And here’s a look at the new website design:
Website A/B testing could not be completed without looking at the design and layout aspects. Try out different layouts and change the placement of various web page elements to see which layout gets you the best conversions.
4. Graphics and Images
Your choice of graphics and images can have a huge impact on your conversions. The purpose of graphics and images is to attract visitors and highlight the benefits of your product/service.
They shouldn’t distract users from the action you want them to take. Instead, they should guide visitors towards the next action. This is why it’s crucial that you include graphics and images in your website A/B testing plan.
Maybe the background image on your landing page or homepage isn’t appealing. Or maybe you’re using low-quality product images that don’t display your product’s best features.
Sometimes moving away from a text-heavy format to a more visual format is also needed to improve CRO. GPS Central did this while doing their website A/B testing and saw a 15% increase in revenue.
The best practices for website graphics and images may differ from industry to industry. If you’re selling consumer goods, you’ll need a high-quality image that properly highlights the product and its features. If you’re in the service industry, using images of real people may work in your favor.
Regardless of industry, images shouldn’t just be decorative. They should support your claims and strengthen the desire to buy.
To find out what works best for your website conversion optimization, you’ll need to test different variations of your images or graphics.
OptinMonster uses fun graphics to illustrate each feature of their tool. Their graphics are engaging and make a huge difference to the page design itself.
Best practices for images on your website:
- Always use clear, high-quality images.
- Your product images should show your products from different angles and the product dimensions should be clearly visible.
- Include one image showing your products in use.
- You can also use infographics to showcase the various benefits or features of your product or service.
Another crucial element in website A/B testing is your sign-up form. Maybe you want people to sign up for a subscription, or you need them to sign up before completing a purchase. Either way, the form design and copy could have a huge impact on your conversion rate.
Like images and graphics, there is no foolproof method for optimizing your sign-up forms. So website A/B testing should be included in your conversion rate optimization plan.
They tested a variation that had more steps than the original, but which also had a stronger visual presentation. The new sign-up process places more focus on each question. And users have to select one of several images to answer the question.
Here’s what the first step looks like:
As you can see in the screenshot above, each image includes a brief description of the style. The new sign-up process is more engaging for users and helped Trunk Club increase conversions by 133%.
Although the popular belief is that short and simple sign-up forms are better, that’s not always the case. It all depends on how you execute them, which is why A/B testing your sign-up process and sign-up forms is crucial.
Another thing that you can try is to provide social sign-up options using which users can register using their Facebook or Google accounts. This will reduce the time taken to sign-up and will encourage more people to register.
Your calls-to-action are one of the most important elements to test for CRO (conversion rate optimization). The tricky part is that there are several aspects to test for your CTA.
Your CTA copy, button color, button size, and button placement all play important roles in your conversions. While doing your website A/B testing, you will have to test all of these CTA elements to improve your conversion rate.
The first aspect to test is the copy. Since your CTA copy should guide people towards action, it should be short, direct, and actionable. Preferably, it should also focus on what the user is going to get, instead of what you want them to do.
For example, “Get Your Free Guide,” will typically perform better than, “Download Your Free Guide.”
BEHAVE conducted a case study on the two CTA variations shown below. One invites visitors to get a quote, and the other invites them to get pricing.
The first variation outperformed the second, and increased form submissions by 104%. The hypothesis was that since it’s expensive to get water treatment services, the idea of getting a “quote” would be more effective for building trust.
Your CTA copy will greatly depend on what you’re selling or offering. Come up with several variations, and test how each performs.
Testing other aspects of your call-to-action, such as button size, color, and placement is also necessary for CRO. You should test all of these elements to ensure that your CTA button is prominently displayed.
First of all, your color choice should blend well with the other colors on your page. But it shouldn’t blend so well that it’s difficult for visitors to notice. The best thing to do is to choose a color that complements, but contrasts with your main page color. You can then test a few colors to see which one seems to drive the most conversions.
Check out the CTA button below from Olark, for example. The color green instantly stands out so visitors won’t miss it. At the same time, the hue complements the bluish tone of the background.
As for button size, it should be big enough to be noticeable. But it shouldn’t be so big that it overshadows every other element on your site. You can use the data from your user behavior research to determine the best place to put your CTA button.
Expert tips for optimizing your CTAs, when doing website A/B testing to increase conversions:
- Use strong verbs encouraging people to take action.
- Use intriguing one-liners that generate curiosity and make people want to know more.
- Use bright, positive colors like green and blue to encourage positive action. In the case of two choices, dissuade people from taking the less-desired action using colors like red that have negative associations.
- Provide two action buttons, both encouraging different positive actions, giving users an illusion of choice.
- Use attention-grabbing, catchy, compelling language in your CTAs.
While doing your website A/B testing, you need to look at all possible variations using these elements, to ensure that your CTAs are optimized for conversions.
These are some of the most effective CRO tips for boosting your conversions with the help of website A/B testing.
However, the number of elements that you can check while doing your website A/B testing is not limited to just these. You can use other elements like typography, colors, videos, etc. while doing your website A/B testing and see what works best for your website.
What’s the first thing you plan to test during your website A/B testing? Let me know in the comments. And if you need any help driving more conversions, make sure you get in touch with me.
Shane Barker is a digital marketing consultant who specializes in sales funnels, targeted traffic, and website conversions. He has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, influencers with digital products, and a number of A-List celebrities.