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What is Split Testing? | Everything You Need to Know [2023]

Split testing

Are you looking to improve your website’s performance and increase conversion rates? One way to achieve this is through split testing. This blog post will cover everything you need to know about split testing, from its importance and history to how to conduct a split test and interpret the results. 

Whether new to split testing or looking to improve your existing strategy, this post will provide you with all the information you need to make data-driven decisions and optimise your website for success.

Key Takeaways:

  • What is Split Testing?
  • Why is Split Testing Important?
  • How Split Testing Works
  • What to Test in Split Testing
  • How to Set Up a Split Test
  • Types of Split Testing

What is Split Testing?

Split testing, also known as A/B testing, is a process used to compare two or more versions of a web page or application to determine which one performs better. The process involves randomly showing different versions of the same webpage to users and tracking their behaviour to see which version performs better.

Split testing can be used to test different elements on a webpage. Elements such as the placement of a call-to-action, the wording of a headline, or the colour of a button. By comparing the performance of different versions, you can identify which version is most effective in achieving your goals.

Split testing allows you to make data-driven decisions about changes to your website or application rather than relying on guesswork or assumptions. It can help you improve the user experience, increase conversions, and ultimately drive more revenue for your business.

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Why is Split Testing Important?

Split testing is crucial because it allows you to make data-driven decisions about the changes you make to your website. Without split testing, you would rely on guesswork and intuition to decide what works best. 

Split testing eliminates the need for guesswork and allows you to see what works and what doesn’t based on actual user behaviour. This way you can improve your website’s performance and increase conversion rates by identifying what works best.

Here are some of the key reasons why split testing is important:

1. It Allows You to Make Data-Driven Decisions

Split testing eliminates the need for guesswork or assumptions when making changes to your website or application. By comparing the performance of different versions, you can identify which version is most effective in achieving your goals. This allows you to make data-driven decisions and optimise your website or application for success.

2. It Can Improve User Experience

By testing different elements on your website or application, such as the placement of a call-to-action or the wording of a headline, you can identify changes that improve the user experience. This can lead to higher engagement, longer session duration, and increased customer satisfaction.

3. It Can Increase Conversions

Split testing can help you identify changes that increase conversion rates, such as a more prominent call-to-action or a clearer value proposition. By making these changes, you can increase the number of leads or sales generated by your website or application.

4. It Can Drive More Revenue

By improving the user experience and increasing conversions, split testing can ultimately drive more revenue for your business. This can help you to achieve your business goals and grow your bottom line.

Brief History Of Split Testing

Split testing has been around for over 100 years, with the first recorded split test conducted by marketer Claude C. Hopkins in the early 1900s. Often referred to as the father of modern advertising, Hopkins used split testing to determine which headlines and images were most effective in his ad campaigns.

Since then, split testing has become a widely adopted practice in marketing and web development, with businesses of all sizes using it to optimise their websites and improve user experience.

How Split Testing Works

Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of how split testing works:

1. Identify the Element to Test

The first step in split testing is to identify the element on your website or application that you want to test. This could be anything from a button’s colour to a headline’s wording.

2. Create Multiple Versions

Once you have identified the element to test, you will need to create multiple versions of it. For example, if you want to test the colour of a button, you could create two versions – one with a green button and one with a blue button.

3. Split Traffic Between Versions

Next, you need to split traffic between the different versions. This means showing one version to a subset of your website or application’s visitors and showing the other version to another subset. The split should be random to ensure the results are statistically significant.

4. Track User Behaviour

As visitors interact with your website or application, you need to track their behaviour, such as click-through rates, bounce rates, or session duration. This data will be used to determine which version performs better.

5. Analyse Results

Once you have collected enough data, you must analyse the results to determine which version performed better. This is usually done using statistical analysis to ensure reliable and significant results.

6. Implement Winning Version

Once you have identified the winning version, you can implement it on your website or application. This will help to improve user experience, increase conversions, and ultimately drive more revenue for your business.

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What to Test in Split Testing

In split testing, you can test virtually any element of your website, including headlines, images, call-to-actions, forms, colours, layouts, and more. Testing only one element at a time is important to determine its impact on user behaviour accurately.

Here are some of the key elements you can test using split testing:

1. Headlines

The headline is often the first thing visitors see on your website or application and can significantly impact engagement and conversion rates. Testing different headline variations, such as different wording or font size, can help you identify the most effective option.

2. Call-to-Actions

The call-to-action is a crucial element of any website or application, as it encourages visitors to take action. Testing different call-to-action variations, such as different colours or positioning, can help you identify the most effective option for increasing conversions.

3. Images

Images can be a powerful tool for engaging visitors and conveying information. Testing different image variations, such as different sizes or placements, can help you identify the most effective option for improving user experience and conversion rates.

4. Forms

Forms are an important element of many websites and applications, particularly those that require user input or data collection. Testing different form variations, such as different fields or layouts, can help you identify the most effective option for increasing form completion rates.

5. Layouts

The layout of your website or application can greatly impact user experience and engagement. Testing different layout variations, such as navigation menus or content placement, can help you identify the most effective option for improving user experience and conversion rates. Take a look at our guide on website architecture for more information on developing your website.

6. Pricing

Pricing is crucial for many businesses, particularly those offering products or services. Testing different pricing variations, such as prices or pricing structures, can help you identify the most effective option for increasing revenue and conversions.

How to Set Up a Split Test

Setting up a split test involves several steps. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you get started:

1. Define Your Goals

The first step in setting up a split test is to define your goals. What do you want to achieve with your test? For example, do you want to increase conversions or improve user engagement? Clearly defining your goals will help you choose the right element to test and make data-driven decisions.

2. Choose Your Testing Software

There are many different split testing software options available, including free and paid options. Choose the software that best suits your needs and budget. 

3. Identify the Element to Test

Once you have defined your goals and chosen your testing software, the next step is identifying the element you want to test. This could be anything from a headline to a call-to-action button.

4. Create Multiple Versions

Create two or more versions of the element you want to test. For example, if you test a call-to-action button, create one version with a blue button and another with a green button.

5. Set Up Your Test

Using your chosen split testing software, set up your test by selecting the element you want to test and uploading the multiple versions you created. Set the traffic split to ensure each version receives similar traffic.

6. Monitor Your Test

Monitor your test regularly to ensure it runs smoothly and collects accurate data. Depending on your goals and traffic levels, your test may need to run for several days or weeks to gather enough data.

7. Analyse Your Results

Once your test has run for a sufficient amount of time, analyse your results to determine which version performed better. Use statistical analysis to ensure the results are reliable and significant.

8. Implement the Winning Version

Implement the winning version on your website or application to improve user experience, increase conversions, and drive more revenue for your business.

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The Basics of Statistical Significance

Statistical significance is a crucial concept in split testing, as it ensures that your test results are reliable and accurate. 

Here are some of the key things to understand about statistical significance:

1. What is Statistical Significance?

Statistical significance is a measure of the likelihood that the results of a test are not due to chance. In split testing, it ensures that the differences between the versions being tested are not the result of random variation but are instead a reflection of an actual difference in performance.

2. Why is Statistical Significance Important?

It provides some mathematical certainty to reduce the chance of randomness. By ensuring that the differences between the tested versions are not the result of random variation, you can make data-driven decisions about which version to implement on your website or application.

3. How is Statistical Significance Calculated?

Statistical significance is calculated using statistical analysis. Several statistical tests can be used, including the t-test and chi-squared test. These tests calculate a p-value, which measures the likelihood that the differences between the versions being tested are due to chance.

4. What is a Good P-Value?

In split testing, a p-value of less than 0.05 is generally considered to be statistically significant. This means there is a less than 5% chance that the differences between the versions being tested are due to chance. A p-value of less than 0.01 is even better, as it indicates an even lower likelihood of chance.

5. How Many Visitors Do You Need for Statistical Significance?

The number of visitors you need for statistical significance depends on several factors, including the size of the differences you are testing and the level of variability in your data. As a general rule, you should aim for at least 100 conversions per version being tested and a minimum of 1,000 total visitors.

Types of Split Testing

There are several types of split testing, including:

A/B Testing

A/B testing involves comparing two webpage variations to determine which one performs better. This is the most common type of split testing and is ideal for testing small changes to your website, such as headlines or call-to-actions.

Multivariate Testing

Multivariate testing involves testing multiple elements of a webpage at the same time. This is ideal for testing more extensive changes to your website, such as different layouts or colour schemes.

Split URL Testing

Split URL testing involves creating two or more separate web pages and directing traffic to each page. This is useful for testing larger changes to your website, such as different page designs or user flows.

How to Choose the Right Type of Split Testing

To choose the right type of split testing, there are various factors to consider, as well as the goals of your experiment.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Type of Split Testing

When choosing the right type of split testing for your business, consider the following factors:

  • Size of the changes you want to test
  • Sample size and traffic volume
  • Level of complexity and resources required
  • Cost and budget

Choosing the Right Type of Split Testing for Your Business

Ultimately, the right type of split testing for your business will depend on your specific goals, audience, and resources. A/B testing is a good starting point for most companies, as it is simple to set up and can provide valuable insights into small changes. However, as your testing needs become more complex, you may need to consider other types of split testing.

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Planning and Conducting Split Tests

To plan and conduct a split test, follow these steps:

Create a hypothesis

Before starting a split test, you should create a hypothesis, which is a statement about what you expect to happen as a result of the test. For example, you may hypothesise that changing the colour of a call-to-action button will increase click-through rates.

Choose test variables

Next, you must identify the variable(s) you want to test. This could be anything from a button’s colour to an entire webpage’s layout.

Determine sample size and test duration

To ensure your results are statistically significant, determine the appropriate sample size and test duration. A larger sample size and longer test duration will generally result in more accurate and reliable results.

Common mistakes to avoid in split testing

  • Testing too many variables at once. Doing this can make it difficult to determine which changes are responsible for any observed differences in performance.
  • Failing to test for statistical significance, which can lead to inaccurate or misleading results.
  • Drawing conclusions too early, before sufficient data has been collected to make a statistically significant determination.
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Analysing Split Test Results

To analyse split test results, you need to understand the statistical significance and how to interpret the data. 

Here are some tips:

Interpreting data and drawing conclusions

When analysing split test data, you should focus on the key performance indicators (KPIs) you identified before starting the test. For example, if you test a call-to-action button, you may be interested in the click-through rate. You should also look for statistically significant differences in performance between the variations.

Common mistakes to avoid in split test analysis

  • Failing to consider the sample size and test duration, which can lead to inaccurate or misleading results.
  • Focusing on the wrong KPIs, which can lead to irrelevant or misleading conclusions.
  • Failing to consider external factors that may have influenced the results, such as changes to your website or marketing campaigns.

Split Testing Tools

There are several split testing tools available that can help you set up and run effective split tests. 

Here are some of the most popular options:

1. Google Optimize

Google Optimize is a free split testing tool that integrates with Google Analytics. It offers A/B and multivariate testing options, as well as personalisation features.

2. Optimizely

Optimizely is a popular split-testing tool that offers A/B, multivariate testing, and personalisation features. It also provides a visual editor that allows you to make changes to your website or application without the need for coding.

3. VWO

VWO (Visual Website Optimizer) is a split-testing tool that offers A/B and multivariate testing, heat mapping and visitor recording features. It also offers a visual editor for making changes to your website or application.

4. Unbounce

Unbounce is a split-testing tool that focuses on testing landing pages. It offers A/B testing and features for creating and optimising landing pages.

5. Crazy Egg

Crazy Egg is a split-testing tool that offers heat mapping, visitor recording features, and A/B testing. It also provides a range of other features for optimising your website or application, such as scroll maps and confetti reports.

Comparison of Split Testing Tools and Features

When choosing a split-testing tool, consider factors such as:

  • Ease of use
  • Range of features
  • Pricing
  • Integration with other tools and platforms
  • Customer support

Here’s a brief comparison of the above tools and their features:

1. Google Optimize

  • Price: Free (with paid enterprise features available)
  • Testing types: A/B testing, multivariate testing
  • Integration: Google Analytics
  • Features: Personalisation, targeting, visual editor

2. Optimizely

  • Price: Custom pricing
  • Testing types: A/B testing, multivariate testing
  • Integration: Adobe Analytics, Google Analytics
  • Features: Visual editor, personalisation, targeting, analytics

3. VWO

  • Price: Custom pricing
  • Testing types: A/B testing, multivariate testing
  • Integration: Google Analytics
  • Features: Visual editor, heat mapping, visitor recording, personalisation, targeting

4. Unbounce

  • Price: From $80/month
  • Testing types: A/B testing
  • Integration: Salesforce, Marketo
  • Features: Landing page creation, A/B testing, analytics

5. Crazy Egg

  • Price: From $24/month
  • Testing types: A/B testing
  • Integration: Google Analytics
  • Features: Heat mapping, visitor recording, A/B testing, scroll maps, confetti reports

Choosing The Right Tool For Your Business

To choose the right split testing tool for your business, consider your specific needs and goals, as well as your budget and technical capabilities. Some tools may be more suitable for small businesses with limited budgets and technical resources, while others may be more appropriate for larger companies with more complex needs.

When choosing a split-testing tool for your business, several factors must be considered to ensure you choose the right one for your needs. 

Here are some of the key considerations:

1. Features

Different split testing tools offer different features, so choosing a tool that provides the needed features is important. Consider the types of tests you want to run, the level of personalisation and targeting you require, and the level of support and analytics the tool provides.

2. Integration

Consider the level of integration the tool offers with your existing analytics and marketing tools. Look for tools that integrate with your existing platforms to streamline your workflow and ensure accurate data tracking.

3. Budget

Split testing tools range in price from free to thousands of dollars per month, so consider your budget when choosing a tool. While free tools may be a good starting point for smaller businesses, more advanced features and support may require a paid tool.

4. Ease of Use

Choose a split-testing tool that is easy to use and has a user-friendly interface. The tool should also have a clear and straightforward process for setting up and running tests.

5. Support

Choose a tool that offers reliable and timely support through documentation, online chat, email, or phone support. Support is essential to ensure you can quickly resolve any issues or challenges that arise during testing.

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Split Testing Best Practices

To get the most out of your split testing efforts, follow these best practices:

  • Test only one variable at a time
  • Ensure your test groups are randomly assigned
  • Use a large enough sample size to ensure statistical significance
  • Monitor test results regularly and adjust the test as needed
  • Consider the impact of external factors on your test results

How to scale up your split testing efforts

As your business grows, you may want to scale up your split testing efforts to test more elements and gain more insights. Split testing can help you improve your website or application’s performance and achieve your business goals. But how can you scale up your split testing efforts to achieve even better results? 

Here are some tips:

1. Test Multiple Elements

Instead of testing just one element at a time, try testing multiple elements simultaneously. This approach, known as factorial testing, can help you identify which combination of elements works best together and can lead to more significant improvements.

2. Increase Test Frequency

Increase the frequency of your split tests to get more data and insights. By testing more frequently, you can gather more data to identify trends and patterns and quickly identify changes that lead to improved performance.

3. Test Across Multiple Channels

Test your website or application across multiple channels, such as desktop and mobile, to ensure that your tests are comprehensive and inclusive. This approach can help you identify differences in performance across channels and optimise your website or application for each channel.

4. Automate Tests

Automating your split testing can help you save time and improve accuracy. Use split testing tools that offer automation features to set up and run tests automatically, freeing up time to focus on analysis and optimisation.

5. Create a Testing Schedule

Create a testing schedule to ensure that you are testing regularly and systematically. This approach can help you track progress, identify trends, and ensure your testing efforts are focused and goal-oriented.

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How to Use Split Testing for Continuous Website Improvement

Split testing should be an ongoing process, with regular tests conducted to identify areas for improvement and refine your website over time. 

To use split testing for continuous website improvement, consider the following:

  • Conducting regular split tests on different elements of your website
  • Using the insights gained from split tests to inform your website design and content strategy
  • Continuously monitoring and adjusting your website based on split test results

Challenges and Limitations of Split Testing

While split testing can be a powerful tool for improving your website’s performance, there are also some challenges and limitations to consider.

Common challenges in split testing

Some common challenges in split testing include:

  • Designing effective split tests that accurately reflect user behaviour and preferences
  • Identifying the right variables to test
  • Choosing the appropriate sample size and test duration
  • Interpreting the data and drawing meaningful conclusions

Limitations of split testing

Some limitations of split testing include:

  • It can only test a limited number of variables at once
  • It may not capture the full complexity of user behaviour
  • It may not be able to account for external factors that can influence user behaviour

How to Overcome Split Testing Challenges and Limitations

Here are some tips on how to overcome these challenges and limitations:

1. Sample Size

One of the challenges of split testing is ensuring that your sample size is large enough to draw accurate conclusions. However, ensuring that your sample size is statistically significant and representative of your target audience goes a long way to alleviating this issue.

2. Test Duration

Another challenge is ensuring that your test duration is long enough to gather enough data. To overcome this challenge, determine the minimum test duration required to gather enough data based on your sample size and conversion rate, and ensure that your test runs for at least that long.

3. Statistical Significance

Statistical significance is a key factor in split testing, and it can be challenging to determine when your results are statistically significant. The best way to deal with this is to use statistical significance calculators to determine when your results are statistically significant and avoid drawing conclusions based on small sample sizes or short test durations.

4. Testing Too Many Variables

Testing too many variables at once can lead to inaccurate results and make it difficult to determine which changes are responsible for improvements. To overcome this challenge, test only one variable at a time to ensure accurate results and isolate the impact of each change.

5. Bias

Bias can also impact the accuracy of split testing results. Ensure that your test groups are randomly assigned and that your sample is representative of your target audience.

Final Thoughts

Split testing is an effective strategy for enhancing the functionality and attaining the objectives of a website or application. You may get better results and continuously improve your performance over time by testing various components and optimising your website or application based on the results.

However, it’s crucial to remember that split testing is a continual activity meant to enhance the functionality of your website. You can obtain information and insights through systematic and routine testing to help you make wise decisions and keep your website or application current.

For more helpful guides like this one, take a look at our full range of blogs created by Digital Estate professionals. 

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