AB testing (without the B)

Whether you’re working on something as a freelancer or building a website/project of your own, I can’t overstate the usefulness of AB testing. If nothing else, knowing about split testing means that when your boss comes out with this…

ab testing against your boss

…you can test it against your own idea and, God willing, prove that you’re right. If you’re currently asking yourself the question ‘what is AB testing?’, Optimizely has a nice breakdown here. Once you’re up to speed, come back and I’ll tell you why AB testing without the B can still be useful.

Split testing is becoming more and more popular amongst marketers, widely being touted as one of the core tenets of growth hacking. However, a lot of people are put off by AB testing because they think it means that they need to do twice as much work. In practice that isn’t really the case but there are still occasions when you may want to test without a split variant. And, when you do, the results will still be just as valuable.

If you don’t have much traffic, the knowhow to create dedicated landing pages and/or the time to devise a hypothesis*, you might think that you can’t split test. But you can! And it will still help you get real insight into what your customers and potential customers think when they see your product.

* I could call you on the latter two – sites like Visual Website Optimizer make it easy to whip up landing pages and coming up with your first tests doesn’t need to be any harder than removing an element or changing its colour

An invariant (AB testing with no B) case study

AB testing with no B or invariant testing, as opposed to multivariate testing, is really just user testing. But if you don’t have many users/visitors, the last thing you want to do is bug them with popups or surveys asking how they’re finding the site. Don’t worry, there’s an app for that.

A few weeks ago, I submitted (an old version of) my site to Peek. If you haven’t heard of Peek, it’s a free service by UserTesting that shows you a real person navigating their way around your site and telling you their first impressions. And it’s awesome. Here’s why.

Just a couple of hours after putting my details in, a video of someone finding their way around my site landed in my inbox. Want to know one of the first things the guy said?

Ok, so this guy obviously offers training for business owners or maybe people who want to become copywriters.

Although training is a very small part of what I do, it occupies less than 5% of my time. So how did I manage to give off a first impression that was so wrong? Because my headline contained the words ‘Content writing, email marketing and copywriting training for small business owners.’ In my head, this meant that I offer three things:

– Content writing
– Email marketing
– Copywriting training

But not to my Peek tester. He read it and thought that I offered ONE thing:

– Training (on the topics of content marketing, email marketing and copywriting).

Despite the small sample size, I changed my headline that day. I did so because the test made something clear to me that I hadn’t been able to see before someone else showed me it. That’s the thing that usability testing is great for, and it’s why I recommend it to freelancers!

Just be careful – what starts with one Peek test may end up being a full-blown addiction to AB testing. And, with seemingly minor changes to websites potentially resulting in more signups, higher levels of customer retention and increased satisfaction, how could it not?!