If you’re looking for a formal definition of split testing, Optimizely provides an excellent one:
“Split testing (also referred to as A/B testing or multivariate testing) is a method of conducting controlled, randomized experiments with the goal of improving a website metric, such as clicks, form completions or purchases.”
It’s a process that’s really caught on as of late and for good reason: split testing gets results and helps fix problem areas. Here are some reasons why it’s advantageous to split test your WordPress website, as well as how to go about doing it:
Lower Bounce Rate
Google Analytics defines bounce rate as:
“Single-page sessions divided by all sessions, or the percentage of all sessions on your site in which users viewed only a single page and triggered only a single request to the Analytics server.”
A high bounce rate indicates that a lot of visitors are landing on your site and promptly leaving without checking out any other pages or exploring your content in any real depth. This isn’t good, and it shows that there are definitely issues that you need to address.
Split testing allows you to use direct comparisons to see which options visitors respond the best to; for instance, by pitting two different headlines for the same page against each other. From there, you can make adjustments to provide a better user experience and reduce the number of visitors that bounce from your site.
Engagement is everything. Whether you’re selling products from your WordPress site or blogging, you want users to engage and interact with your content as much as possible.
This could mean reading multiple blog posts, exploring your landing page in detail or thoroughly checking out your “about” page. Whatever the case may be, the more engagement your site receives, the more likely you are to reach your goals.
Split testing is a natural catalyst for improving engagement because it allows you to evaluate the response of visitors and fine-tune your site’s content in order to create a better experience.
Higher Conversion Rate
Combine a lower bounce rate with improved engagement, and it means one thing: more conversions. Let’s say that the original design of your landing page was underwhelming visitors and resulting in a meager a conversion rate.
Split testing and experimenting with alternative designs would help you enhance your landing page to keep visitors on there longer. This should raise the perceived value of your brand and make your offers more enticing, leading a larger percentage of your visitors to convert.
If you’re using your WordPress site as a hub for your online business, split testing should inevitably help you generate more sales. By addressing design and content issues on your site, you can refine it and make the necessary adjustments.
This in turn creates a more fluid, seamless experience for visitors and moves them through the digital sales funnel more efficiently.
How to Do Split Testing
Although the concept of split testing may sound technical, the process is fairly straightforward. When you boil it all down, you’re simply comparing two variations of something. You could even think of it as comparing apples and oranges.
The first step is to choose an element of your WordPress site that you want to test.
An article from Kissmetrics offers 19 specific ideas for tests that you can run on your website.
Here are just a few examples:
- Font style, size and color
- CTAs (positioning, color and text)
- Shortform vs. longform copy on your landing page
- Shortform vs. longform blog posts
- Video vs. text on your landing page
- Product descriptions
- Background images
- Contact field forms (e.g. quantity of fields or information requested)
Let’s now go over a few simple examples of how to perform a split test.
The current Bluehost homepage features a CTA that says “get started now” with a green button.
We could perform a split test by switching the button to red. From there we would simply compare the click-through-rate (CTA) of the green button with the red one.
Whichever color resulted in the higher CTA would be the one we’d want to use going forward.
Here’s what the above the fold area of our landing page for WordPress hosting looks like (at least, at the time this article was written):
If we were looking to increase our conversion rate for this landing page, we might want to experiment with a different image. So for a split testing campaign, we’d try replacing this picture with another one.
From there, we’d sit back and see which image was resulting in a higher conversion rate. We’d then make that image our default and consider running another test against a third image.
Let’s say that we wanted to find the sweet spot in terms of blog post length. We wanted to know whether longer or shorter posts are receiving more engagement and are leading to more conversions.
For this split test, we would take a longer post like this one that clocks in at a little under 2,000 words.
We would then compare it with a significantly shorter post like this that’s just over 850 words.
In other words, it would be a shortform vs. a longform post.
Some metrics we could analyze include:
- Number of comments
- Number of social shares
From there, we should be able to get a sense of whether longer or shorter posts were having the most impact. We would then base our future content strategy off of those findings.
Keep in mind that these are just a few simple examples. However, you’re free to split test literally anything you want. Whatever you’re curious about, you can test.
Analyzing the Data
In order for this process to work and truly be effective, you need to know how to measure the results of your split test. You need to be able to generate tangible, objective data to draw your decisions from.
Therefore, you need a solid analytics platform.
One of the absolute best is Google Analytics, which is used by an estimated 57+ million websites. This dwarfs the next biggest competitor, which is used by just under 13 million websites.
You could even think of Google Analytics as the universal platform, because its usage is so widespread.
The basic version is free and capable of generating nearly all of the data you could ever need. WordPress is great because there is a plugin that will sync with Google Analytics so that you can conveniently gather data from your website.
It’s called Google Analytics Dashboard for WP (GADWP). Just install it and follow the instructions to get set up.
One question website owners have is how long they should run their split tests in order to properly test their variables. Is there a specific duration they should aim for?
The more data you have, the clearer the results should be. When it comes to choosing a duration for a split test, it needs to be sufficient enough to generate adequate data for accurate results.
This largely depends on the volume of traffic that your site receives. If you receive a high volume of traffic then you probably don’t need to test for as long as if you receive a low volume.
Although there’s no magic number that works for every website across the board, two or three weeks is usually enough time to generate adequate data. If you’re using Google Analytics, look for the confidence intervals reported, as this will tell you how confident Google is that one of your variations is a winner.
Also, be sure to look out for any potential anomalies that could skew your data. Running a split test that measures ecommerce conversions over the Black Friday holiday weekend will give you skewed data compared to one run on a non-holiday week.
Plugins for Split Testing
You probably know by now that WordPress has a plugin for pretty much everything. So it should come as no surprise that there are plugins specifically designed for performing split testing.
These are useful because they streamline the process dramatically and make it easier for those who don’t understand all of the technical aspects of the process. If you’re just starting out, choosing the right plugin can really simplify things.
To learn about some of the most popular split testing plugins, check out this blog post from Colorlib.
Or you can search for plugins yourself directly on WordPress. From your dashboard, click on “Plugins.”
Then click on “Add New.”
Now type in either “split testing” or “AB testing” into the search bar.
You can then explore and check out other potential plugins that’ll automate the process of split testing for you.
Split Testing Your WordPress Website
There’s absolutely no reason to design your website and create content based on a hunch. Never before has it been easier to generate comprehensive data on your visitors’ behavior, tendencies and preferences.
Split testing enables you to better understand your visitors so that you can adjust your WordPress site to deliver the best possible user experience. This can have a host of benefits, such as visitors spending more time on your site, increased engagement, improved conversions and ultimately more sales.
When you break it all down, split testing greatly improves your bottom line and positions your WordPress site for long-term success.
Which elements of your WordPress site are you most interested in split testing? Please share your thoughts by leaving us a note below.