A/B Split Testing and Multivariate Testing for Landing Pages

When spending money in advertising online or offline it is important to have properly optimized landing pages that will convert.  No matter what your business goals are, testing is imperative to better understand the following:  what kinds of media provide the best ROI, what is the most appropriate call to action, how does your brand message impact your audience, do your web page visitors understand your product and are they compelled to convert, etc.

There are various ways to test landing page performance by using variations of the page layout and design, call to action, content variations, and so on.  There are many ways to accomplish this using both manual and dynamic methods.  Manual testing would simply require you to have multiple versions of your landing page and swap out the pages over time, track the result, and see what works best.  This can work well but can take longer and limit your insight.

The more technical and popular forms of testing landing page performance are:

  • A/B Split Testing
  • Multivariate Testing

MVT

A/B Split Testing:  A/B testing is about testing different verions of web pages to see which ones convert better.  A/B split testing can be accomlished in a few simple steps using free tools such as Google Website Optimizer.  Before you get started you need to have a few things accomplished.  (1) Define your conversion goals, (2) Develop your content and call to action to support those goals, (3) Create two versions of your landing page with some variations in design, layout, verbiage, and call to action, (4) Have each landing page on a unique URL and make sure to use some kind of “Thank You” page for tracking conversions.

Once you have your pages ready you will place code on the page that will dynamically serve them to different visitors.  Essentially, if you are testing to different pages, half of your audience over a period of time will land on one page, and half on the other.  Then you can set up various conversion goals for each page (i.e. registration form, PDF download, video view, etc.) and run the test for a couple weeks (depending on your traffic levels and what kind of data you are trying to collect).

Google Website Optimizer is a great tool for this because it can be accessed through Google Adwords or directly and it is simple to use.  It only cares about two things in regards to your visitors:  (1) what page did they land on, (2) and did they convert.  This tool is simply for collecting data, but you can use excel or other platforms for deeper analysis.  Keep in mind that if your pages are not receiving much traffic you will need to run your tests for a longer period of time in order to collect enough data to make any kinds of decisions.

Multivariate Testing (MVT):  MVT is about testing different versions of content within the same page.  So for example you might want to swap out tag lines, call to action, images, videos, etc.  Website Optimizer is also a great tool for this but there are more sophisticated platforms (but they are not FREE). 

When setting up MVT you are atually placing code snipets around each piece of content you want to swap out.  The interesting thing about MVT is the vast amount of combinations you can run.  Google Website Optimizer for example can provide you with 10,000 content variations but I would not recommend doing that.  Keep it simple at first and choose your most important pieces of content like your call to action, maybe a video, etc. 

Both methods are great to use and can easily be tracked by Google Analytics.  Proper testing can drastically improve ROI for paid search and prevent wasted ad dollars.

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