By Miles Burke

Increasing Responses Using Split Testing Basics

By Miles Burke

Recently we wanted to trial two messages for lead collection. We built a landing page template, and then created two headlines and copy variations. One was using a very active tone, and one less so.
We ran a straw poll within our team, and we were fairly certain which one would work better – but how do we test this? That’s where split testing comes in! Using Google’s free Website Optimizer tool, and a humble budget to be spent on Google AdWords, we did just that.

Rather than publish a page and make a few tweaks every few months, split testing can achieve greater results in shorter time, and it doesn’t need to cost a lot. The way Google Optimizer works, is that it will allow you to send traffic to both pages, and set a goal for conversion. We had a simple contact form on these landing pages, so determined we wanted that form to be completed as our goal.

Then, using Google AdWords, we ran two Ad Groups, each pointing to one of the two landing pages. Then, we bumped up a budget so we could get at least a few dozen visitors to each page over two weeks.

The result? We found one page (the very direct, active voice one) had nearly 50% more form completions than the other. The cost ended up being under US$100 and a few hours of our time.

Now, we can roll that page on our main website, knowing with confidence we’ve chosen the right one. If we really wanted to (and I’m positive we will soon) we could then make further subtle changes, and run a second split testing campaign.

Give it a go by testing two variations of contact forms, or two variations of your homepage – you’ll be surprised how quick you’ll get some real results!

  • Is there a formula we can use for determining the ROI of a split test? We would have to take into account the cost of producing 2 pages instead of 1. So if there is design work, coding, plus the cost of running the A/B test, those costs could be fairly significant, and it might take quite some time to pay off depending on the value of the conversions.

  • I think the idea behind split testing is that you only test small differences, e.g. changing call-to-action button colour or text, otherwise you can’t know for certain what aspect of the page made the difference, so therefore the extra design and coding time would be minimal.

    What I’d like to know is how you can have two home pages to test against? Don’t they have to have two different URLs? And does Google’s website optimiser only work in conjunction with Adwords?

  • Acts7

    Well, to do a/b split testing you could do something as simple as a query string or a “subfolder” that directs to the homepage.

    go to :

    or you could do:

    If you have clickable links its a lot easier – as the end user does not have to type in the extra characters. Course if you’re doing live marketing (radio etc) its a lot more challenging to ask someone to remember not only your url but the “?try=fun” etc.

    Assuming your end user arrives securely at the proper url, a simple test could be utilized to determine which set of content to display. The easiest way would probably be jQuery’s replace function wrapped in an if statement.

    Side note: be sure to induce the new elements / replacement elements within jQuery. (In other words: Don’t have two sets of html code turned on and off with a simple css class – that could lead to search engine issues).

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