Have you ever wished you could test an alternate a call-to-action or an ad placement on your site without the risking a negative effect on your conversion rate? You don’t have to make decisions blindly when it comes to your marketing. A/B testing gives you the hard data you need to make informed decisions regarding your conversion optimization strategies. As a result, you can lessen the risk that your changes will have a negative effect on conversions.
Today, we’re answering your biggest questions about content experiments: What is A/B testing in marketing? What does an A/B test look like? And what are the best WordPress A/B testing plugins that you should be using on your WordPress site?
What Is A/B Testing in Marketing?
A/B testing is when you compare two or more versions of a webpage, app, or piece of content to gauge which performs better. In marketing, A/B testing gives you the ability to determine what the outcome of your optimizations will be before you apply them.
There’s one important reason to use A/B testing: marketing is often a matter of trial and error, but A/B testing means you can test changes before applying them. This allows you to be certain the changes will deliver the desired results, and effectively eliminate the guesswork.
What an A/B Test Looks Like
Consider a hypothetical example. You have a landing page, and you want that page to convert more subscribers.
If you used an A/B testing tool, you could create a variant of that landing page by making one single yet significant change to the page. From there, the tool could run both pages — original (or “control”) and variant — by delivering them to your traffic at random and with equal frequency. Meanwhile, the tool would monitor how many conversions each page generates. If the variant page has an increased rate of conversion, then the change you made was effective and can be applied to the actual page.
A/B testing can be done with multiple variants (multivariate testing) but test results are clearer with just one variant. When there’s just one variant with one single change from the original page, you can conclude that change is the source of the performance difference.
What You Can Split Test on Your WordPress Site
A/B testing — also called split testing — on WordPress primarily entails testing your landing pages. Since the goal of a landing page is to convert leads, you can use split testing to compare different iterations of the landing page and find out which generates the most conversions.
Besides landing pages, split testing on WordPress can be used to compare variations of on-page elements like content headings or the location of your social sharing buttons. Another common use for A/B testing is to compare different sign-up form implementations. This test lets you determine whether you get more subscribers when the form is served in a pop-up or when it floats in from the side of the page.
Some of the common elements used in split testing include
- Landing pages
- Product pages
- Content headlines
- Graphics and visual elements
- Signup forms
Best WordPress Plugins for A/B Testing
There are many great plugins for WordPress A/B testing. Whether you’re looking to test your on-page elements or want to do split testing for a landing page, here are the best plugins for your WordPress A/B tests.
Nelio A/B Testing
As one of the most widely used A/B testing plugins for WordPress, Nelio A/B Testing is an extremely versatile tool that will help boost your conversion. Nelio can do split testing for your product pages (in addition to your landing pages, on-page elements, and blog posts) with all your experiments tracked right from your WordPress dashboard. As a bonus, the tool supports experiments with multiple variants.
Nelio offers additional features like multi-site support, a heatmap feature, and experiment scheduling across its three subscription plans starting at $29 per month for up to 5,000 pageviews.
Split Hero is a split testing tool that keeps things simple. It lets you create up to four variants of your page using either the Split Hero plugin for WordPress or your preferred page builder. From there, it’s as simple as inputting the details of your experiment — i.e., name for the experiment, length of time for the test, destination page for after conversion — and running the test. Then the plugin serves those pages to your audience and monitors the data.
A Split Hero subscription costs $27 per month for unlimited testing capabilities after a free 14-day trial. And if you run a web store, Split Hero supports WooCommerce.
Thrive Headline Optimizer
Click-through rate on posts and articles is largely dependent on the strength of your headlines. If you want to boost the click-through rate on your content, consider trying Thrive Headline Optimizer. Not to be confused with Thrive Optimize, Thrive Headline Optimizer is an A/B testing tool for headlines. With this tool, you can test different titles for your content to figure out which generates more engagement.
Popular and highly-trafficked outlets like Forbes, Huffington Post, and Buzzfeed use Thrive Headline Optimizer because it’s easy and effective; just input your variant titles, launch the experiment, and monitor the results right from your WordPress dashboard. It’s included in the Thrive Suite of WordPress tools for $19 per month (paid annually), or you can buy Thrive Headline Optimizer separately for a one-time payment of $67.
Simple Page Tester
Simple Page Tester is an A/B testing tool that lives up to its name. Available for free with a premium version available for a one-time payment of $59, Simple Page Tester simplifies split testing with its user-friendly test setup wizard.
Installing the plugin is the most difficult part. From there, just tell the plugin what you want to test e.g., a blog post or page, and when (or whether) to declare a winner. Simple Page Tester has native integration with Google Analytics for conversion goal tracking and offers variable traffic controls between variants. With the premium version, you also get comprehensive analytics which let you monitor your tests from your WordPress dashboard.
A/B Press Optimizer
Testing a post or page is pretty standard for split testing tools, but A/B Press Optimizer lets you more easily test variations of specific on-page elements. You can test different graphics, button or link styles, subscriber form locations, and even headlines for your content. The plugin allows for unlimited experiments and unlimited variations in those experiments which makes A/B Press Optimizer essential if you plan on doing lots of split testing on your site.
Between the limitless number of tests and ability to compare specific on-page elements, A/B Press Optimizer is great for granular conversion and engagement optimizations. You can start using A/B Press Optimizer after a one-time payment that starts at $49.
WordPress Calls to Action
Similar to how Thrive Headline Optimizer focuses on split testing for headlines, WordPress Calls to Action is a split-test plugin made by Inbound Now for your calls-to-action. A call-to-action is designed to convert subscribers and customers, and WordPress Calls to Action Plugin can be used to test different versions of your call-to-action so you can find out which converts the most traffic. But it’s not just limited to calls-to-action. In fact, you can also run A/B tests for your ads, posts, pages, and other elements. WordPress Calls to Action even has templates that you can use to quickly create your variant calls-to-action.
As a freemium tool, WordPress Calls to Action has a “lite” version available for free, or a premium version is available as part of the Inbound Pro Marketing Suite for $59.99 per year.
WordPress Landing Pages
Also made by Inbound Now, WordPress Landing Pages is a split testing tool for your landing pages. It includes a robust page builder so you can design different landing pages to use for your experiments. There are a number of templates available to use for your landing pages; these templates are built on the Advanced Custom Fields framework.
In addition to all those useful features, WordPress Landing Pages supports multivariate testing, meaning you can test multiple variant elements on each variant page. There are also in-depth reporting options that can be accessed right from your WordPress backend. Like WordPress Calls to Action, WordPress Landing Pages is a freemium plugin, so the “lite” version is available for free, and the premium version is part of the Inbound Pro Marketing Suite for $59.99 annually.
Marketing Optimizer is an all-in-one marketing plugin that is completely free to use. It can meet many of your marketing needs with marketing automation, call tracking, and customer relationship management capabilities. However, Marketing Optimizer is arguably most robust as an A/B testing tool. The built-in builder makes it very easy to create high-converting landing pages, pop-ups, calls-to-action, and emails as well as variant versions for your tests.
Although it has its own builder, you can use elements created with your preferred builder(s) in your Marketing Optimizer split tests. Once you’ve designed and initiated a test, Marketing Optimizer tracks the results and generates visual reports which you can view from your WordPress dashboard. It supports both caching plugins and server-side caching.
Unique from other plugins on this list, Google Optimize — previously known as Google Content Experiments — is an A/B testing tool that doesn’t require a plugin. Just embed a small amount of code in the header of your site and use the external Google Optimize platform to build and run your split tests. Since it’s a Google-made tool, it integrates fully (and automatically) with Google Analytics, so your tests will generate a ton of valuable and actionable data.
Google Optimize can track up to five simultaneous split tests consisting of up to 16 variants for free, or you can upgrade to Optimize 360 which supports up to 100 simultaneous experiments consisting of up to 32 variants. For pricing on Optimize 360, you must contact the Google Optimize sales team for a custom quote.
Do You Need A/B Testing for Your WordPress Site?
No matter what type of website you run, the search for ways to convert more subscribers, leads, or customers is never ending. But there aren’t any default tools to do conversion testing in WordPress. Testing site conversion is something you’d need to do manually, and even so, it would be complicated, cumbersome, and lack the in-depth reporting.
An A/B testing tool for your WordPress site gives you the opportunity to more easily find tweaks and make improvements to your site so you can achieve your goals. Most importantly, these tools make the process of conversion optimization something that’s based on real historical and experimental data rather than a game of guesswork. A/B testing tells you what’s working and what’s not, so you can make smarter and more informed decisions.
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