A/B Testing

How Does A/B Testing Work in Marketing?

First developed in the 1920s and used to improve agriculture and farming before being picked up in the 1970s by marketers looking to gather data to improve their methods, A/B testing is employed across many industries.

This effective test can highlight how to improve engagement and reveal what consumers are looking for on a website or within emails.

If you find yourself wondering how does A/B testing work in marketing, you’ve come to the right place.

What Is A/B Testing?

A/B testing measures two variations of a page, product, or marketing asset and assesses which one performs the best. The two versions are tested against each other to determine which is the ‘winner’ based on where the most clicks or engagement is received. From here, the highest performer can be analysed to determine why it performed well and where the success originated from.

A/B testing can be used to assess a variety of marketing techniques, including:

  • Headlines
  • Copy
  • Calls to actions (CTAs)
  • Video and audio
  • Product descriptions

Unbeknown to many, A/B testing is crucial in marketing as it allows businesses to review which elements consumers like or dislike about pages or products. In uncovering this information, content can be tailored to ensure that it can be boosted even more.

Why Use A/B Testing?

When marketing a product or service, A/B testing is crucial as it provides the opportunity to develop strategies that secure return-on-investment and improve conversion rates. After all, the goal of marketing is to entice your target audience. Although you may have a stellar landing page, there could be a few small ways to improve your visibility.

One test shows that simply changing the colour of a CTA button from green to red increased clicks by a whopping 21%. Small changes like this enhance your pages and ensure they are a cut above the rest. If one small change can improve conversion rates so dramatically, you don’t want to leave it!

A/B Testing vs. Split Testing

Although split testing may sound similar to A/B testing, there is a subtle difference between the two. A/B testing usually focuses on one element of a page, such as the copy or CTA, to see which version performs best. In contrast, split testing compares two very different designs, where more than one element has been changed.

With split testing, if one page outperforms the other, you can’t always nail down precisely what customers prefer, as many of the elements are different from one another. Yet, A/B testing allows you to make this distinction, as you change only one or two elements. This can aid with data gathering and show where and how you can adjust your pages in the future.

Some experts recommend changing more than one or two elements in A/B testing. This is known as multivariate testing. For instance, you might combine different fonts and text sizes to see which works best on your landing page.

Whilst both tests are valuable in marketing as they can show you how to improve your pages based on what your consumers like, A/B testing is more specific than split testing.

Challengers and Champions 

When you begin A/B testing, you need a champion and a challenger. These are the variations of your advert or landing page that will be tested against each other.

Essentially, champions are pieces of media, such as web pages or emails, that you know will either do well in the future or have done well in the past. Challengers are the variations that you put up against these champions. They feature one altered element so that you can measure their performance against the champion.

When A/B testing, it is essential that you keep it as fair as possible to capture the most accurate data. Your champion and challenger need to run for the same amount of time and have a similar number of views. They also need to be published or sent out simultaneously, as people are more active on their emails and social media at different times of the day.

If one has significantly fewer views or clicks than the other, the data won’t be accurate enough to make effective changes to your site. However, a technique called ‘blocking’ can be used to stop this from happening.

Blocking considers various factors, such as if visitors to your site are using a mobile phone or laptop, and shows an equal amount of phone and laptop viewers your content acquires to prevent data from being skewed. This can tell you how each version of your content performs on phones and laptops, adding an extra element to consider in your marketing strategy.


If you haven’t started using A/B testing yet, start now. It can provide a vast amount of insight into what grabs your customer’s attention, which will only improve your content.

Even if you run an A/B test and your customers prefer your champion, that is still valuable information – it proves that you’re doing the right thing!

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