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Talia Wolf

4 Major AB Testing Mistakes Most Marketers Make

Talia Wolf
4 Major AB Testing Mistakes Most Marketers Make

We’ve all read the case studies. Somewhere out there, marketers are claiming they’re increasing conversion rates by 300 percent/ 212 percent or “just” 75 percent. Every other case study you read publishes these kind of results, yet when it comes down to it and we really face it – most tests either fail or at best increase conversions by one or two percent. Why is that? Are people making these results up? reading them incorrectly (very likely) or do these optimizers just know the secret to meaningful testing (and life)?

Over the years I’ve ran thousands of tests and here’s the reason most tests don’t deliver the kind of results you read about: Poor testing methods and the wrong approach.

These two issues are the reason people spend so much time, money and resources to see just minor or no uplift at all. These issues usually manifest as four main testing mistakes I see time and time again by many optimizers:

1. You Spent No Time on Strategy

42 percent of marketers say the hardest part of AB testing is analyzing the results. The reason? Most marketers venture into AB testing without a carefully drafted strategy and methodology and base their tests on intuition alone which makes it extremely hard to analyze the test results and optimize further.

It’s not enough to locate the drop in the funnel and guess the best treatment; you have to create a carefully thought through plan that dives deeper into Google Analytics, the targeted audience’s current behavior, their emotional triggers, the goal of the test, and the process of optimization. You have to map out the KPIs you will use to measure success. A good strategy helps you identify the best possible way for optimization and the best course of action for the highest impact.

Every test should have an hypothesis that will lead you to better understanding of your tests and a better way of scaling them. Win or lose, what matters is the hypothesis and strategy – without them every test no matter how “successful” is a failure.

2. You Blindly Follow Best AB Testing Practices

There are probably double the amount of articles handing out best practices than the posts flaunting 300 percent uplifts. Unfortunately, best practices aren’t set in stone and you must remember that just because they worked 100 times for different people does not mean they will work for you. Each business has its own target audience and different sets of issues they need to address. What works for one does not necessarily mean it will work for another.

By all means, try best practices, but test them and make sure you have an hypothesis as to why they should work (not just because they’re best practices but why they would work on your target audience). One of the most common best practices is to reduce the amount of fields in a registration form to gain a significant increase in registrations, however many tests I’ve run have shown that removing fields may increase the amount of leads but decrease their quality. More leads does not necessarily mean more sales. Before testing best practices, make sure to review your strategy again, identify your target audience and the type of uplift you want to see and most importantly how you’re going to measure it.

3. You Have No Mobile Strategy

I will talk about this extensively on my webinar this week with SEMrush, but for now, let's be clear: responsive design is very nice to have, and much better than the alternative (pinch and zoom) but it is by no means a conversion optimization strategy for mobile. When optimizing for mobile visitors you have to adopt a mobile approach and address these visitors differently with a dedicated mobile experience according to their specific behavior. Follow crucial mobile statistics to identify your mobile visitor’s behavior on Google Analytics, understand which pages they’re viewing, where they’re bouncing from, what they’re clicking on and what they are looking for, and you’ll be surprised at what you learn. During the webinar I will cover which metrics to follow and how to build a mobile conversion optimization strategy that scales.

4. Focus on the War, Not the Battle

This is probably the most common error people make when it comes to CRO. Conversion optimization and AB testing isn’t about the individual test or increasing one KPI, it’s much more than that. Conversion optimization is the gateway to our customers, a way of learning more about them, understanding their behavior and addressing their exact needs. Through meaningful AB testing, you can learn a lot about your customers and discover what makes them tick and understand their purchasing behavior.

Managed correctly, CRO can be your way of optimizing your sales processes, your retention and of course business growth. Do not treat AB testing as another tactic, treat it as the best research tool you’ve ever had to finally understanding your customers.

When it comes to AB testing, everybody makes mistakes and there are so many other technical ones you can make (use this AB testing checklist to prevent further mistakes), however if you get the basics right, everything else will follow. There are many tools out there to simplify testing and get it done faster, but these tools cannot build the strategy for you or do your thinking for you. As long as you keep learning and challenging yourself, you’re going to start seeing those results coming in.

Join the Webinar

For more about this topic, join my upcoming webinar: 3 Steps to Turn Mobile Visitors into Customers Using Psychology and Personalization.

Have more questions about AB testing? Ask during the webinar or leave a comment below.

As Founder of Conversioner and CMO of Banana-Splash, Talia helps businesses optimize their websites using emotional targeting, consumer psychology and behavioral data to generate more revenues, leads, engagement and sales.

Talia is also a keynote speaker, avid skydiver and Harry Potter fan. Don't forget to follow her on twitter: @taliagw

Author bio: Talia Wolf is a conversion optimization expert, blogger & speaker. Check out her work on the emotional conversion optimization blog to get to get additional actionable tips on how to build a conversion strategy for your site. As CEO at Conversioner, Talia helps worldwide companies optimize their funnels and increase their revenue using emotional conversion optimization. You can follow her on Twitter or on weekends you can find her jumping out of planes just for the the fun of it.

Comments

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Derek Perkins
Shouldn't #4 be "Focus on the war, not the battle"? :)
Talia Wolf
Derek Perkins
Yes! :) That is a mistake
Cody Lister
Awesome post, Talia. I agree that people have a tendency to blindly follow best practices for A/B testing (which doesn't make any sense). I also like that you recommend treating mobile versus desktop visitors differently from a behavioral POV. It seems straightforward but it's not because many times people forget that these are two completely different traffic segments.

- Cody
Talia Wolf
Cody Lister
Thanks Cody!
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