How to Use Split Testing to Improve Your Online Sales

By Suzanne Kearns

4 min read

In order to run a profitable business, website owners need to constantly test and improve it to increase their conversion rate and sales. One method of doing that is to conduct split testing. Here is a brief primer on what it is, how to do it, and where to find the resources you need to get it done.

What is Split Testing?

Also known as A/B testing, split testing is the process of trying out something new on your site with two audiences at the exact same time. You do this by creating a second version of your site, making content changes to one of the sites, and then routing the incoming traffic to both sites in equal numbers. For instance, imagine that you want to test a product’s price points. Your product sells for $49.99, and you want to know if a lower price will bring in more sales. You can split test this idea by changing the price to $39.99 on the second site. If you have 100 site visitors in a day, 50 would go to your original site and see the $49.99 price tag, while the other 50 would go to the duplicate site where they will see the $39.99 price tag. Now all you have to do is determine which price point is the most successful. To get the most accurate results of your changes, it’s important that you only test one change at a time.

Six Sample Tests to Try

In addition to the price-point testing mentioned above, there are some other tests that could make visitors more apt to buy when on your site.

  1. Place your opt-in offer in a different position. Opt-in lists are important, and to grow yours as large as possible, visitors need to see it as soon as they visit your site. If you aren’t getting the amount of opt-ins you want, try repositioning it on your test site. Move it to the top-fold of your home page or toward the upper left corner, which is where most visitors’ eyes go. You can also test it in a hover ad or place it on every page of your site.
  2. Create different headlines. The headlines on your site often determine whether visitors stay and browse or log off, so testing yours may result in changing how visitors interact with your site. Some of the most effective headlines use large fonts, bold colors, lots of white space, and tell visitors the benefits they will experience when using your product.
  3. Add images. The types of images you use on your site will impact how well it performs. For instance, eyetracking experts say that people prefer images that add benefit to their experience —such as a good photo of the product or an image of a real person using it — but tend to ignore stock images filled with models or those that just take up space.
  4. Create a sense of urgency. When you create a sense of urgency, many visitors will respond by pulling out their credit card, but if you do this, you must be honest in the process to maintain your credibility. In other words, don’t say you only have a limited supply of product and then go on selling it indefinitely. Some of the methods you can use to test a sense of urgency are offering a limited-time discount, adding bonuses for a special promotion, or only offering a limited amount of a particular product.
  5. Remove all references to buying from the top-fold. Above the fold is still as important as it always was, but the reason has changed. The new school of thought contradicts older theories that say all relevant information, including the call to action, should be there. In fact, there are many cases showing that conversion rates are higher when the call to action is at the bottom of the page. Use the top of the fold on your test site to engage the reader and show them the value of your product or service before you ask them to buy it.
  6. Change the format, appearance, wording or color of the buy button. The characteristics of your buy button can make a difference in how many visitors make a purchase, so it’s a great place to conduct split testing. For instance, one test showed that using the word “My” instead of “Your” increased the click-through-rate by 90 percent. You can also try changing the color, size, and font of your buy button.

How to Conduct Split Testing

If you want to conduct split testing on your website, you’ll need some specialty software designed for that purpose. Adobe Target offers software that allows you to view customers’ reactions to your content changes, as does Webtrends. Conversion Rate Experts offers a long list of split testing software comparisons, and you can also find free software at SplitTesting.com.

Information may be abridged and therefore incomplete. This document/information does not constitute, and should not be considered a substitute for, legal or financial advice. Each financial situation is different, the advice provided is intended to be general. Please contact your financial or legal advisors for information specific to your situation.

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