The Importance of A/B Testing in Marketing
Some people view marketing as an art where creatives dream up campaigns made to inspire and intrigue. They imagine marketers sitting in coffee or art houses thinking of powerful ideas for the masses to consume. While some part of this story does occasionally occur, it is the small minority of marketing work. In fact, today marketing has become its own type of science with extremely targeted messages aimed at making consumers make a quick buying decision. It also is an iterative process that is constantly evolving to form the perfect marketing message. The primary tool for evolving marketing campaigns has become A/B testing. For that reason, this method has become a crucial tool of the marketing industry.
What is A/B testing?
A/B testing is a split method that analyzes the response or success rates of two different variables. These could be copy, images, layout or anything else. There is always a "control" variable that is the baseline to be measured against. The B variable is then tested to see how it performs.
For example, imagine an online glasses retailer testing which image of glasses gets the best response rate on banner ads. Perhaps a traditional black frame gets a 2% click rate and of those that click, 5% convert to purchases. The ROI is easy to calculate in this case. That is your baseline A control number. Now the marketer might try a more unique set of orange framed glasses. They then see what the click through and conversion rates are on those ads. After each is tested for several days they are compared. That represents one A/B test.
Small tweaks can bring BIG results.
The benefits of this testing is clear and is why marketing firms all over the world are adopting this methodology. This test allows marketing firms to rapidly respond to changing market dynamics without any personal biases. It simply takes the market as is and finds what is most effective. There are no subjective decisions.
As the marketing team discovers which format, copy, image or campaign is most effective, they slowly divert more and more resources in that direction. That improves the ROI over time for the entire marketing department and company. Consumers are more engaged with meaningful content or products. The ads match customer demand and result in better profitability.
Slow and steady wins the race!
There are actually a few drawbacks of this process. A/B testing only tests one variable at a time, which means it may be slower than multi-variable testing. There are a smaller range of options to choose from so marketing is more limited with the universe of campaigns to test at one time.
Why choose A/B testing method?
The A/B method is important because it allows firms to evolve their marketing strategy rapidly in response to changing demands. It also helps firms improve their efficiency.
However, even more important is the way A/B testing allows firms to completely automate their marketing and sales processes. That has completely revolutionized the industry and the consumer buying process.
Now, a firm can funnel online leads to the site and monitor the purchase data. Algorithms can automatically create A/B tests to see what produces the most leads and how they convert over time. Then, funds can automatically be diverted to banner ads, search key words or other ads to generate the highest return.
In the old days of print, radio and television ads, A/B testing was possible but much less precise and occurred over a much longer time frame. It also could not be automated with software. That has all changed and now marketing is better off for it. Marketing has become a true science rather than an artists' dream.
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