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How and Why to A/B Test Your Digital Marketing Campaigns

Do you remember your elementary school science classes? If they were anything like mine, you probably did an experiment something like this one: Plant identical seeds in three different pots. Place one in a dark space and water it daily; place one in the sun and don’t water it; and place another in the sun and water it daily. Then, watch the different results achieved as the weeks go by.

We didn’t know it back then, but we were learning the fundamentals of A/B testing. A/B testing, or split testing, is a tool that digital marketers employ to optimize campaigns in order to achieve the highest level of engagement. Whether you’re looking to increase impressions, clicks, sign-ups, or purchases, A/B testing can help you get there.

So how does it work? The concept is simple: A/B testing is the practice of testing multiple variations of campaign components to see which one has the best performance. This can be the design of a landing page, the verbiage of the call-to-action, the subject line of an email, the audience targeting strategy, and more.

The first step to implementing A/B testing is deciding what you are going to test. You might want to test several things, but testing only one thing at a time is important for getting clear results. Think about what part of the conversion process you want to learn the most about. For instance, do you want to optimize the number of opens on your email newsletters, or the number of people submitting their email addresses to download your content?

Next, you want to decide on your sample size. A rule of thumb is to test the largest sample size possible. Testing a sample that is too small can skew your results. You also want to make sure that your sample groups are picked at random and come from the same source. Studio Brand Collective typically recommends a testing sample of 10 percent of your overall contacts.

The last step of A/B testing is to analyze the results. This step sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s easy to miss details if you’re too focused on just one metric. For example, instead of just looking at the difference between the two variations, compare these results against your historic data on the same metric. This will help you determine what defines success for future tests and help you refine your future campaigns.

There are a few best practices for A/B testing to keep in mind. Always test simultaneously so that time-based factors don’t affect your results. To get the most out of your experiment, test early and test often. Finally, let the data speak for itself when the test is finished. Sometimes the elements that produced the better result seem counterintuitive, but letting your instincts interfere with the experiment will keep you from achieving better results.

Do you want to start using A/B testing but you don’t know where to start? There are several tools and resources available. Most email marketing platforms have A/B testing features built in, as do most social platforms. If you want to start executing campaigns with A/B testing expertise, contact a digital agency like Studio Brand Collective to help you take the guesswork out of online optimization.

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