Marketing is in a constant state of flux. Many strategies that worked five years ago, or even last year, are no longer effective. B2B purchasing cycles are evolving. We’ve hit the limit of available content. Customer expectations are rising, and consumers now have more power than ever in the vendor-customer relationship. Customer experience and customer success must now be prioritized for success.
As marketers, we’re exploring new territory and must constantly test new, innovative strategies to stay competitive.
Fortunately, the marketing automation (MA) systems we use include tools that make this experimentation easier. A/B testing is a good technique to evaluate new marketing strategies.
A/B testing allows us to compare the results of two variations of the same marketing technique. We can then determine which of the two is more effective. This takes some of the guesswork out of our disruptive marketing experiments and allows us to focus on data rather than intuition when deciding which new techniques to pursue.
We’ll look at what A/B testing is, when you should use it, and some best practices for implementing it in your marketing organisation.
What is A/B testing, exactly?
We use marketing automation to execute two approaches to the same marketing tactic at the same time with A/B testing. With A/B testing, the top marketing automation platforms allow you to get quite specific.
From a technological standpoint, how does it work?
To explain the process, we may use email marketing as an example. Your MA system will send a sample of each version to two subsets of your overall targeted audience when testing two versions of the same email.
After that, your system will wait a certain period of time to see how each of the two performed. Which of the following had the highest open rate? Which received the most clicks? Which had the most number of unsubscribes?
When your system has gathered enough data to determine which version is the most effective, it will distribute that version to the rest of your target audience.
What are the benefits of A/B testing?
It’s critical to understand which marketing strategies best engage your audience, generate new leads, and increase lead conversions. A/B testing will inform you which email versions yield the highest open rates, click-through rates, and marketing-qualified leads if you’re testing an email campaign.
Trying out a new email campaign
You can use A/B testing to test the subject lines of your emails, the copy of the emails, and the pictures you employ in an email campaign. You can test two various font types, font colours, email template designs, headers, sub-headers, names in the email “from” line, and so on at a more detailed level.
Aspects of a marketing effort are being tested.
A/B testing can also be used in different aspects of a digital marketing campaign. Compare and contrast the outcomes of two distinct landing pages, lead generation forms, or calls to action. You can also test two distinct marketing campaign sequences to discover the best campaign touchpoint cadence.
Remember statistical significance.
When A/B testing new methods, make sure to use sample sizes that are large enough to provide statistically significant results.
Your results won’t be dependable enough to represent your full audience if your target audience is 3,000 leads and you just send your initial test copies to subgroups of 10 people. Effective A/B testing requires a large sample size (n).
How do you set up and run an A/B test?
The goal of A/B testing is to provide data that leads to actionable insights and allows you to confidently implement the strategies that work best with your target audience. What is effective in one industry may not be effective in another.
When planning an A/B test, following a specific process and sticking to it is beneficial. This ensures that your outcomes and strategy are consistent. Here’s a good example of a step-by-step procedure to follow:
1. Establish your hypothesis.
Identify the question you’re attempting to answer. Should I, for example, send this promotional email from “The [Company Name] Team?” Is it better to send it from individual sales representatives? You’ll have an idea of which is more effective, but it’ll simply be a guess. Your hypothesis will be validated (or not) by your A/B test.
2. Decide which methods to test and how many.
Will you test two email subject lines to keep things simple? Or will you additionally do tests to see which days of the week get the most email opens? If you’re new to A/B testing, start with one variable, such as the subject line of an email. It’s wise to take things slowly at first and learn as you go.
3. Determine a sample size that is statistically significant.
Calculate the right sample size for each subset of your test so that your results can inform you which approach to use with confidence. If you don’t, you’ll be wasting your time because your results won’t correctly forecast how your technique will perform when it’s implemented across your full target population.
4. Practice your test
Effective A/B testing requires quality assurance (QA). Use some test leads from your CRM database to put your experiment to the test. Make sure you’re in that group of test leads so you can walk through the procedure and double-check that everything is in order.
Every link should be followed, every form should be completed, every email should be opened, and so on. Then double-check the results to ensure that your activities are accurately recorded. Before you run your test on actual leads or consumers, you should identify any faulty parts of the process.
5. Establish a timetable.
How long will you wait while the data from the test group is accumulated before determining the most effective strategy and implementing it across your full audience? There is no definitive answer to this question.
The amount of time you should wait is determined by how long it will take to collect enough data for the statistical significance of your results. It depends on the size of your audience and how quickly they react. It’s critical not to force either technique on the entire group too soon.
6. Deploy, track, and analyse
Wait a reasonable amount of time after implementing the successful strategy before evaluating the results. You may notice that, while Tactic 1 performed better in your trial, the results it produced when applied to the entire audience were inconsistent.
If this occurs, you should conduct another test comparing that method to another to ensure that it is a successful way to engage your audience. There’s no harm in re-testing a method because you need to know why it worked the first time.
When should A/B testing be used?
Don’t A/B test any random strategy just to see what happens. When A/B testing, you should define a goal because it’s most useful when you’re trying to fix a problem or enhance something that’s not working as it should.
If conversion rates are declining, for example, it’s time to start A/B testing fresh strategies. Pull out your A/B testing playbook if customer retention rates start to drop. If you’re having trouble generating new leads, it’s time to try something fresh.
What are the requirements for doing A/B tests?
To begin, you must be able to measure precise metrics, the majority of which cannot be done without the use of technology. Without software that automates these operations, like free marketing automation software, you can’t measure email campaign click-through or open rates.
In a nutshell, you’ll need a CRM that holds customer and lead data, as well as a marketing automation system with A/B testing capabilities. RisePath CRM, for example, is a free marketing automation software that has built-in MA capabilities to create a unified CRM system. These are the greatest options for conducting successful A/B testing.
A/B testing final thoughts
It’s time to get to work now that you know the principles of A/B testing, as well as why, when, and how to conduct them. Consider when you’d like to do your first A/B testing expedition.
If your firm lacks the necessary technology to conduct A/B tests, now is the time to consider deploying new software, such as a unified CRM. This type of software does a lot more than just let you try out new strategies. It automates numerous laborious operations, ensures data integrity, and enables you to provide a better client experience, among other things.
Schedule a demo with RisePath if you want to learn more about free CRM and free marketing automation software. We’ll walk you through the advantages of adopting a unified CRM with marketing automation integrated into it.
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