Year 2010 is going to be a blockbuster year for split testing. With web analytics going main stream in 2008 and 2009, it is now time for its little brother to be seen and heard. As a means to test hypotheses and ideas in a scientific manner, split testing should be an integral part of business strategy, just as email marketing, SEO and PPC advertising is. This is especially important as recession gets over and online businesses get back in the mode of trying out innovative (and sometimes crazy) ideas for optimizing revenue and increasing sales per customer/visitor. An excitement is building in online marketing world and split testing is a happy family member.
Why do I think year 2010 will be a year of A/B split testing? Here’s why:
Reason 1: Growing Awareness
With 1,760,000 search results on Google already, “split testing” is slowly crossing the chasm and is definitely not just a buzzword today. This transition from early enthusiasts to mainstream online businesses will accelerate in 2010 thanks to blogs dedicated to testing (Conversion Rate Experts, Widerfunnel, Widemile, Grockdotcom, etc.), regular posts from industry experts such as Avinash Kaushik, Tim Ash, etc. and efforts by A/B testing evangelists such as Patrick McKenzie and Ben Tilly.
Reason 2: Split testing is best methodology for conversion optimization
SEOMoz says 2010 is going to be a year of conversion optimization. And guess what – split testing sits at the core of conversion rate optimization process. I can hardly imagine any initiative for increasing website sales and conversions which doesn’t use A/B testing. There are literally a gazillion factors affecting website conversions and getting them all right at the same time using the designer’s or boss’ hunch is a long shot. Instead, every factor needs to be carefully tested one-at-a-time (split testing) or several at once (multivariate testing); bumping up conversion rate a little with each test. The real magic happens when all such little bumps add up to become a really huge bump in company’s bottom-line.
Reason 3: Rise of case study repositories
A usual excuse for not doing split testing is lack of ideas. People just getting started can be clueless on what elements on a website affect conversion rate. Even after they zero on to testing the right element on a page (say signup button), getting ideas for interesting variations is a big stumbling block. Fortunately, websites such as Which Test Won and ABTests.com document a lot of split testing case studies. Those case studies are an excellent starting point for what to test and what results to expect. If you want to optimize your signup rate, pick a relevant case study and test what they tested (of course, also test whatever ideas you have). You may not get results that they got (that is the whole idea of testing in the first place), but you get ideas which you can now refine. These repositories will become important in 2010 as they fatten up with even more case studies and provide essential raw materials for increasing website conversions.
Reason 4: Accessible, integrated, affordable and simple to use tools
With 15+ free A/B testing resources available on the Internet, the cost of trying it out has reduced to zero. But the technical complexity and integration hassles are a still a big turn off for many website owners. Tools such as (our very own) Visual Website Optimizer solve those pain points by being extremely simple to use and requiring no integration hassles. This essentially removes ALL barriers for trying out A/B testing. In 2010, the industry can expect a lot of innovation on usability front so that tools become even more easy to use. Split testing will also become heavily integrated with web analytics such that testing green button v/s red button becomes as routine as checking number of visitors on your website.
The world is getting ready to try out A/B testing this year, what about you?
Do you have any plans for using split testing in 2010? What is holding you back? If you want to get your hands dirty with A/B, split or multivariate testing without all its associated hassles, use invite code “vwo-blog” (without quotes) while signing up for Visual Website Optimizer. I do not guarantee that the tool will end up redefining your 2010 online strategy (though I sincerely hope that it does) but it will definitely make you realize how simple it can be to do A/B testing for increasing website sales, downloads, signups, leads or conversions. Trust me, give it a shot! It is free, after all.