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Why You Need A/B Testing If You Want Your Ecommerce to Grow

A/B testing sets up one change in one variable and records any difference in your customer behavior. This helps you determine if you should make a change or not.

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Up for a challenge?

Imagine we will give you $100k if you jump on your bicycle and ride across the United States. All the way from Los Angeles to Washington DC. More than 3,000 painful miles. 

You’d want to make sure you knew how many miles you’d gone. You’d want to strive for that first 100, that first 200, the huge milestone of 1,000 miles. You’d want to make sure you kept putting a lot of effort and energy into riding that bike so you could get to 3,000.

But you’d also make sure you were using the best equipment. From wheels to brakes.

A better bike means less pain and faster results.

It’s the same for ecommerce. 

The goal is always revenue, we don’t need to argue about that. But instead of thinking constantly about traffic and the sheer effort it takes to keep growing the traffic base, what if we thought about the efficiency of the store at the same time?

There are two ways to improve the revenue of your ecommerce store:

  1. More traffic.
  2. ​​More conversions with your existing traffic.

Instead of, “How do I get more people to visit my site?” start thinking, “How do I get more people who are already visiting to take the actions I want?”

This, my dear ecommerce friend, is the art (and science) of conversion rate optimization (CRO). The main mechanism to optimize your conversion rate is A/B testing. Also known as split testing.

What may sound complicated is very simple.

A/B testing sets up one change in one variable and records any difference in your customer behavior. This helps you determine if you should make a change or not.

The biggest failure people make? They change too many elements at the same time. 

If you’re trying to figure out if adding an interstitial helps or harms your sales page conversion rate, don’t also change the copy and button colors at the same time. You won’t be able to tell which change caused the uptick or drop in conversions.

When it comes to getting the best results for your effort, it’s hard to beat the huge gains you can get through optimizing based on testing.

Let's say ​​that you have 1,000 store visitors per month.

Of those 1k visitors, only 22 will make a purchase.

Imagine that through some small tweaks on your store, you could increase all of those numbers by 2% at each stage.

Now, 62% of visitors make it into the shopping area. 32% of them put something in their cart. 5% buy it. Instead of 54 purchases, you now have 99, or almost double!

It’s called the small-efforts-big-win strategy.

You’ve doubled your conversions without making any effort to grow your traffic.

That’s why testing matters. You could carry on running your store as usual, working on growing your traffic, and making changes to your website based on your intuition. 

Or you can trust the actual behavior of your customers and optimize your store based on real data.

Ready to add optimization to your toolkit for growing your e-commerce business? Excellent. Let’s talk about the things you’ll need to succeed.

1. Significant traffic

There’s no replacement for traffic. Get it or you can’t test.

If you run split tests with too few visitors, your test results might not be relevant.

Let’s say you’re running a test about changing your call-to-action button on a landing page. You only have 10 visitors to that page, and 4 pick red and 6 pick green.

On its surface, 60% for green seems like the winner, but when it’s only a difference of two visitors, it’s hard to justify changing all your buttons to green. You might run the same test another day and the results could be swapped.

The Kissmetrics sample size calculator tells us that this test isn’t statistically significant:

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2. Quantitative research (analytics)

‍Before you test, you have to check out your data.

But are you doing that correctly?

Even if your store already has enough traffic, it'll still benefit from a testing program. It gives you logical, measurable data between action and desired results.

However, there's no point in testing if your data foundation is flawed. Your results will be useless – or worse, completely wrong!

Here, we'll show you how to properly set up an analytics program that guarantees you have a solid base to measure your testing efforts.

3. Qualitative research (customer research)

You can’t improve what you can’t measure.  And data only tells you so much.

Your customers, of course, can tell you a lot about your ecommerce too – even before you start testing.

Comprehensive customer research can give you insights you’d only dream about otherwise. 

When you understand your customer deeply, you can build a website tailored to their experience. Then, you can optimize that experience with testing.

Don't waste time improving (and testing) topics that are not relevant to customer conversion or their experience. 

And customer research can tell you exactly what those topics are. 

4. Testing mindset

It’s the most important thing to arm yourself with before you start working on your conversion rate optimization.

If you’re new to testing, or if you’re thinking of testing as a quick and easy “hack” aimed solely at boosting revenue, we’d encourage you to consider your longer-term goals.

Testing requires patience.

Your testing philosophy should be geared toward discovering the right adjustments to create the best possible customer experience.

Need more good reasons for A/B testing? Well...

  • Testing produces the most sustainable lifts of any tactic.
  • Testing significantly minimizes an organization’s risk exposure.
  • Conversion improvement is as or more important than traffic for revenue growth.

So now your bike – that is, your ecommerce – is as tuned up as it’s ever going to be. You have all the information you need for your cycle (and your shop).

You’re ready to go, right?

Not necessarily.

Technology changes. Your customers' needs too. 

To keep cycling – that is, selling – you need to continuously tinker and adjust as you go. 

Testing helps store owners establish a proven process and system for optimizing their ecommerce's customer experience. 

Better yet: that's a long-term strategy that keeps giving you profitable insights. 

All you have to do is start with your mindset.

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