What is A/B Testing?
Remember, in High School, we all experimented with a leaf of a plant by covering some part of it and exposing it to sunlight. The main idea behind this experiment was to determine how each element affected the leaf. After a day or two, the conclusion was that the leaf needed light, warmth, and water to grow. Pretty much same A/B testing is applied for such conclusions, experimenting with two variants at a time and testing small differences.
A/B testing (also known as split testing or bucket testing) is a technique used for comparing two versions of a webpage or an app against each other to determine which one performs better. It brings scientific methodology to marketing and removes the guesswork by providing data-backed decisions and can be used across a range of communications considering many variables. GOOGLE used this testing tool in 2000 for the optimum result to be displayed on the first page of result. Rest is history!
In this test, we select two versions of the same page element and test them against each other. The results are then compared to see which one is the most effective in increasing page views, conversions, and other important metrics.
How is it used?
A/B testing considers how small differences in a marketing campaign might influence customer behavior. It can be the title of a newsletter or an email, the text for a banner advertisement, the text on a call-to-action button or the layout of a web page. The main idea is to run two variations of the campaign with a limited number of members or a group of customers to see which version is the most successful. You can repeat the tests numerous times to fine-tune your content and improve the effectiveness of your marketing communication.
What You Should Test
Let’s discuss the various things you can test. Basically, you can test about anything on your site from button colors to font sizes, but here’s a list of some of the more commonly tested elements:
- Call-to-action location
- Recommended content
- Page layout
- Product images
- Ad locations and sizes
- Sales copy
- Checkout process
- Site colors
- Email signup form
- Promotional phrasing
- Site search
- Social sharing buttons
- Image content
- Site headline
- Product descriptions
- General copy
- Content length
- Form length and wording
- Pricing tables
- Product prices
The list could go on and on.
Best WordPress A/B Testing Tools
Now let’s talk about the Best WordPress A/B Testing Tools to Optimize Conversion Rate:
1. Google Optimize
It is a free A/B testing tool from – you guessed it right – Google. You can assume it as Google Analytics, but it is actually used for A/B testing.
In fact, that comparison is pretty important because you install Google Optimize on your site by linking it to Google Analytics and then adding some additional snippets of codes to your website.
Google Optimize lets you run three different types of tests:
- A/B test – Test two or more versions of the same page against one another.
- Multivariate test* – Test two or more elements on a page to see which combination creates the best outcome.
- Redirect test – Send traffic to two or more completely different URLs, rather than just changing elements on the same URL. This is technically A/B testing as well, Google Optimize just breaks it into a separate option.
*Multivariate testing is a more thorough and complicated way of testing changes. While it’s helpful, it’s also usable for high-traffic sites. This post has a great explanation of the difference between A/B testing and multivariate testing.
For A/B or Multivariate tests, Google Optimize gives you a code editor that lets you actually click on specific elements on your page to create the variations, which helps make things a bit more beginner-friendly.
Once you create your variants, you can set up all kinds of targeting for visitors, including geo-targeting, behavior targeting, and lots more.
And once you start gathering data on your tests, you can either view it right in the Google Optimize interface or via the regular Google Analytics interface.
Price: Free! There is a paid enterprise plan for more features, the free plan is plenty powerful for 99.9% of website owners.
2. Thrive Optimize
A very recently released A/B testing plugin from Thrive Themes, company behind popular Thrive Architect page builder.
One of the big benefits of Thrive Optimize is just how easy it makes it create an A/B test.
Very simple implementation, to create a new A/B test, here’s pretty much all you need to do:
- Clone an existing Thrive Architect piece of content or create a new page
- Make the change(s) that you want to test
- Choose your goal (i.e. what is considered a “success”)
- Start collecting data
You can even set it up so that Thrive Optimize automatically starts using the winning variation after certain criteria that you can set, are met.
You can easily divide traffic between the different variations to get the exact split that you want. You can also view all the important data right in your Thrive Optimize dashboard with some beautiful charts.
Thrive Optimize lets you create unlimited tests using unlimited variations. With those tests, you can try to optimize three different goals:
- Revenue (you manually set a certain value for each conversion)
- Visit Goal Page
- Subscriptions (e.g. fill out an opt-in form)
Price: Starts at $127 for a bundle with Thrive Architect. If you already own Thrive Architect, you can get the standalone plugin starting at $67. And you can always get access to both by purchasing a Thrive Themes membership starting at $19 per month (paid annually).
It is a popular landing page builder and lead generation tool. While it is a standalone service, it has its own dedicated plugin for A/B Testing.
As an important part of its landing page builder, Leadpages includes an easy A/B testing tool. It has similar functionality to that of Thrive Optimize. Basically you:
- Build a page using the Leadpages landing page builder tool
- Create a clone of that page with the relevant element(s) changed as a test variant or build a new page from scratch
- Divide your traffic between the variant(s)
- Watch the A/B test data roll in
In terms of ease of use, it doesn’t get much simpler. Running an A/B test isn’t any more complicated than building a regular landing page, which makes Leadpages great for non-technical users.
Moreover, Leadpages can also handle both A/B testing and multivariate testing, which is helpful if you want the depth of multivariate testing.
Price: While Leadpages itself starts at $25 per month, you’ll need the $48 per month plan (paid annually) to get access to the A/B testing functionality.
4. Nelio A/B Testing
Nelio A/B Testing is the most complete A/B testing plugin that you’ll find for WordPress. Most other plugins that you’ll see on this list only help you A/B test your site’s content, But Nelio A/B Testing lets you split test practically everything about your WordPress site.
By that, I mean that Nelio A/B testing lets you split test different:
WordPress themes or CSS styles: Use different themes to check which performs better.
Widgets: Test different combinations of widgets in your sidebar.
5. VWO (Visual Website Optimizer)
It is a standalone SaaS solution specifically designed for A/B testing, rather than a general landing page tool like Leadpages and Instapage. It also includes a dedicated WordPress plugin that simplifies the integration with WordPress.
In terms of comparison, VWO is most like Google Optimize in how it functions.
Basically, you choose the page that you want to test. Then, you can:
- Create variations of that page using VWO’s WYSIWYG editor. Yes – you can actually use point-and-click to edit your own website in VWO’s interface.
- Choose the goal of your test. You can either use custom conversion code or track things like link clicks or page visits.
- View your data in VWO’s dashboard.
- Visual Website Optimizer
As for test types, VWO supports an identical list to Google Optimize:
- A/B testing
- Multivariate testing
- Split URL testing
You can pay a monthly fee based on how many visitors your tests receive.
Price: VWO’s A/B testing plan starts from $49 per month (billed annually) for up to 10,000 monthly visitors. You can also get a 30-day free trial that supports 1,000 visits to test the tool.
6. Simple Page Tester
Simple Page Tester doesn’t offer as many A/B testing options as Nelio A/B Testing, but it does a great job of letting you easily test different post/page content against one another.
A wizard guides you through details after installing it:
When you click on that button, you’re able to create your split test by:
- Duplicating the current page and editing it
- Selecting another page on your site
- Creating a new blank page
Because it’s using the regular WordPress page interface that means you can still use Simple Page Tester to test:
- Page builder designs
- Different forms, etc.
Then, you can view the basic stats in your dashboard:
The premium version costs $59.
7. Title Experiments
Title Experiments is a lot more limited than any of the previous split testing plugins. Instead of letting you test any element of your page, it only enables you to split test different post titles.
You might think this a little thing, but your post title plays an important role in as to why visitors will check, click on your content in the first place, so being able to find which post title gets more clicks can help boost your traffic.
The plugin also takes very little time to set up. Once you install and activate it, you can simply use the + Add New Title button to enter one or more additional titles when you create content:
Then, the plugin will track how many clicks and impressions each title variation gets.
For more functionality, you can upgrade to the Pro version of the plugin to:
- Test different featured images against one another
- View more detailed statistics
You need to automatically stop your experiments after a specific time (otherwise, you have to select the winner manually)
The Pro version costs $19.
A/Bingo is a Ruby on Rails’ A/B testing framework deployed as a plugin, which can test display or behavioral differences using just one line of code. It can measure any event, test for statistical significance and is extremely fast, meaning it has minimal impact on page load times or server load.
As the A/B tests are defined in code, there is no setup or configuration required. As the first time code for a particular test executes, it does all the setup work for the test and logs the first participant. Subsequent test alternatives are read straight from the cache.
Each A/B test is defined in controllers (or views), and A/Bingo also allows for multivariate testing, with the ability to build your own dashboard or use the default one provided to view the results of your tests. It’s simple to set up, install the plugin, create the required tables, assign the user a unique identifying string and configure the cache.
9. Adobe Target
Adobe Target provides an intuitive user interface to create personalized web experiences, quickly create A/B tests and confidently target content. Target provides a guided testing and targeting workflow and framework, with no coding or setup hassles, so it’s easy to see your visitor’s responses to content variations in real time and instantly adapt your site to meet their needs.
Adobe Target features one-click optimized content delivery, multipage and cross-channel testing and interfaces customization, with a variety of filtering options, customizable graphs, and reporting options.
With mobile optimization, you can increase mobile engagement and revenue with A/B testing and geolocation targeting.
With both automated personalization you can create deeper engagement and more effective cross-selling.
Price: Available on request