The Most Effective Web Elements for AB Testing

A question newer marketers always have when it comes to AB testing is: What do I A/B test first?

While there’s a lot of information (and misinformation) out there about design, copy and behavior of high converting marketing machines, we have to ask the question of where to start.

You can jump into any of the popular AB testing tools out there and still be confused on where to start. Even seasoned marketers who have just never gotten around to learning A/B testing will stumble in an attempt to test everything.

The Most Effective Web Elements to A/B Test

“What are the top 3-6 elements we can A/B test that will prove effective in increasing my sales?”When your business is starting to get high volumes of traffic you’ll get the itch to start running tests and seeing if what you’ve been doing up to this point can’t be done better.Today I’m going to go over the top irrefutably important elements to test on your sales pages. Nothing else will get you results if these elements are not well tweaked.

  1. Your Headline
  2. Your CTA (Call-to-action)
  3. Your Pricing Copy
  4. Long vs. Short Page Length
  5. Video vs. Image vs. Text
  6. Images of Faces and Nature
  7. Conclusion

1. Your Headline

Why it’s important: Unless your service is as popular as Facebook or Dropbox, your headline will have to instantly grab your visitors’ attention. It’ll have to get the point across about how your service benefits them.

So you’ve brainstormed 20 headlines and found a few you feel resonate with your audience better than your current one. Great! Time to test your assumptions.

Start with 2 or 3 headline variations. Your original, alternative one and alternative two.

The basics before you start: Knowing your audience, if you haven’t heard, is the number one key to every sales page. A/B testing won’t do any good if you haven’t first defined the audience and the problem you’re solving. If you don’t do this bit of homework first, anything else you do will be a waste of time.

Your headline will be your first and, most often, last chance to resonate with your audience. The question you’re trying to ask during a test is, which headline resonates the most.

What you should test:

  • Copy – Brainstorm 20 headlines and pick 3
  • Size – Large headlines vs. medium size vs. small
  • Color – Visibility of your headline to the background

[bctt tweet=”#ABtesting won’t do any good if you haven’t first defined the audience and the problem you’re solving.” via=”no”]

AB testing

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2. Your CTA (Call-to-action)

Why it’s important: Your call to action tells the prospect what to do next to reach the desired result. This may be 3rd grade but I’ve looked over the shoulder of a lot of people that don’t understand where the “Buy Now” button was, when it was looking them right in the face.

Your call to action is arguably your second most important sales page element.

What you should test:

There is never-ending tips and tricks for calls to action. What works for you may not work for someone else.

The call to action will usually consist of the following items:

  • Headline (“Get more sales today!”)
  • Info below the headline (“Instant signup–30 day free trial. No Contracts.”)
  • Button (“Start Now >”)
  • The box/widget or the area surrounding it (a bordered box or second with different background)

The aspects of these items you’ll want to test are:

  • The copy of the headline, sub-text and button
  • The color contrast of background section, text and button from rest of site
  • Placement of the call to action (left, right, above fold, at end of page, in center, etc.)

Those are a lot of different possibilities to test. You’ll want to start with the overall copy. What users expect after clicking the button and the words you use.

After that, test the color, button size, and so on.

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3. Your Pricing Copy

Why it’s important: There’s a lot of science behind pricing copy and what should be done for higher priced vs. lower priced products, luxury vs. competing on price, etc. Few guides will tell you exactly what you need to do for your site.

So, until you start A/B testing, you’re just following best practices but not knowing for sure.

Basics before you test: Every customer wants to know that what they’re buying from you is worth more than what they’re paying. Establishing that first (in your headline and rest of sales page) prevents your tests from flopping.

What to test:

  • Number of plans – Test how the paradox of choice hinders your sales.
  • Pricing difference between each plan – Test how obvious the choice is for each segment.
  • High price vs. Low price – Will people pay more because of the price itself?
  • Size of price copy – Does a larger price font size mean it costs more (in the customer’s psyche)?
  • Features shown – Does showing less overall features, but more important ones, make the choice easier?
  • Button copy – “Buy Now” vs. “Get Started” vs. all the rest.
  • Trial Offer vs. Money Back – Are your prospects more worried about accidentally getting dinged after forgetting to cancel a trial or rest easy rest easy knowing they can get their money back?

Top 6 Web Elements to A/B Test

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4. Long vs. Short Page Length

Why this is important: If you’ve been studying and reading marketing blogs you’ll notice mixed opinions about short vs. long form copy. That is, a long-scroll-happy sales page vs. one like Dropbox with a simple login and signup button.

Dropbox signup button

Long form might have made many millions for one type of business, while it does nothing for another. What you’re testing is what works for your audience in your industry.

What to test:

  • A page with every bit of convincing copy you and your team can muster. None of it being filler. This will often read like a conversation to keep the prospect engaged.
  • A short(er) version of the page above but with the more important elements like testimonials, customer logos, pricing, benefits, headline and some other copy. This may consist of a few calls to action in scrolling. But it embodies all of the parts of a well converting launch page, leaving out any extras.
  • A short page that gives just enough information about the product to grab your interest. This may consist of the headline, call to action, a bit of copy or video, and logos or testimonials.

You may also want to test multiple variations of each page type. The order of the elements or switching out logos for testimonials or vice-versa.

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5. Video vs. Image vs. Text

Why this is important: Marketers have had mixed results in testing whether video is more effective than not video at all. Some argue that it’s distraction while others say it helps get the point across quicker.

Video seems to work better when describing a new, disruptive product that is hard to put into words or your audience has no mental references to.

It’s hard to argue with video being a great tool to show your product’s awesomeness. However, some products need a little mystery to pull prospects into a trial and try it for themselves.

What you should test:

  • Basic text: Explaining the benefits of your product and why your prospect should sign-up.
  • Video: Showing the awesomeness of your product, what it does and how your prospect will use it.
  • Image: Some screen shots (if it’s software) or eye candy of your latest product line.

For some products it’s just not practical to have a video. But don’t rule it out until you’ve tested.

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6. Images of Faces and Nature

Why this is important: We often overlook the power images have on buyers. Adding in screenshots and product photos are a given. But what about the old advice given by ad copy experts? These days we look at photos of smiling faces is a cheesy and outdated tactic used by marketers in the 1950’s.

Basics before you start: Invest in quality photography or above average quality stock photos. Using generic stock photos could generate mixed results. Quality is a big factor here since prospects are much more design sensitive than they were only 10 years ago. Context is also a factor. Out of context photos can leave people confused.

What to test:

For a SaaS product or service, use photos of people, nature and even a downtown shot of your home town. Try with these photos and a variation with just photos of your product or no photos at all.

In an eCommerce site you’ll want to try product photos of people using your product vs. just the product floating in a white background.

Pinning down the basics will give you a solid base to run other, smaller impact, tests later on.

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Conclusion

The number of elements you can test are endless. Pinning down the basics will give you a solid base to run other, smaller impact, tests later on.

At first, you’ll want to keep your tests very basic. Running tests along one set of element variations at a time. This approach ensures more statistical confidence so you’re not left wondering if it was change X or Y that made the test a success.

These 6 elements aren’t the only important elements on your site but they will make a massive difference if tested properly.

Let us know what’s working for you. Which elements have you tested that have made the most impact? We’re curious to hear your answers.

Clinton SkakunAuthor – Clinton Skakun

As Growth Marketer of Convert.com, Clinton is an online product marketing strategy guy and developer. He mixes the technical, business and marketing aspects to develop and launch B2B software products.

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