Your growth strategy and the true potential of A/B testing

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Imagine being a leader who can see the future…

Who can know if a growth strategy will succeed or fail before investing in it.

Who makes confident decisions based on what she knows her users want.

Who puts proven ideas to work to cut spending and lift revenue.

Okay. Now stop imagining, because you can be that leader…right now. You just need the right tool. (And no, I’m not talking about a crystal ball.) I’m talking about testing.

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So many marketers approach “conversion optimization” and “A/B testing” with the wrong goals: they think too small. Their testing strategy is hyper focused on increasing conversions. Your Analytics team can A/B test button colors and copy tweaks and design changes until they are blue in the face. But if that’s all your company is doing, you are missing out on the true potential of conversion optimization.

Testing should not be a small piece of your overall growth strategy. It should not be relegated to your Analytics department, or shouldered by a single optimizer. Because you can use testing to interrogate and validate major business decisions.

“Unfortunately, most marketers get [conversion optimization] wrong by considering it to be a means for optimizing a single KPI (e.g – registrations, sales or downloads of an app). However conversion optimization testing is much much more than that. Done correctly with a real strategic process, CRO provides in-depth knowledge about our customers.

All this knowledge can then be translated into a better customer journey, optimized customer success and sales teams, we can even improve shipping and of course the actual product or service we provide. Every single aspect of our business can be optimized leading to higher conversion rates, more sales and higher retention rates. This is how you turn CRO from a “X%” increase in sign ups to complete growth of your business and company.

Once marketers and business owners follow a process, stop testing elements such as call to action buttons or titles for the sake of it and move onto testing more in-depth processes and strategies, only then will they see those uplifts and growth they strive for that scale and keep.”Talia Wolf, Conversion Optimization Expert

 
Testing and big picture decision making should be intertwined. And if you want to grow and scale your business, you must be open to testing the fundamentals of said business.

Imagine spearheading a future-proof growth strategy. That’s what A/B testing can do for you.

In this post, I’m going to look at three examples of using testing to make business decisions. Hopefully, these examples will inspire you to put conversion optimization to work as a truly influential determinant of your growth strategy.

Testing a big business decision before you make it

Often, marketers look to testing as a way to improve digital experiences that already exist. When your team tests elements on your page, they are testing what you have already invested in (and they may find those elements aren’t working…)

  • “If I improve the page UX, I can increase conversions”
  • “If I remove distracting links from near my call-to-action button, I can increase conversions”
  • “If I add a smiling person to my hero image, I can capture more leads”, etc.

But if you want to stay consistently ahead of the marketing curve, you should test big changes before you invest in them. You’ll save money, time, resources. And, as with any properly-structured test, you will learn something about your users.

A B2C Example

One WiderFunnel client is a company that provides an online consumer information service—visitors type in a question and get an Expert answer.

The marketing leaders at this company wanted to add some new payment options to the checkout page of their mobile experience. After all, it makes sense to offer alternative payment methods like Apple Pay and Amazon Payments to mobile users, right?

Fortunately, this company is of a test-first, implement-second mindset.

With the help of WiderFunnel’s Strategy team, this client ran a test to identify demand for new payment methods before actually putting any money or resources into implementing said alternative payment methods.

This test was not meant to lift conversion rates. Rather, it was designed to determine which alternative payment methods users preferred.

Note: This client did not actually support the new payment methods when we ran this test. When a user clicked on the Apple Pay method, for instance, they saw the following message:

“Apple Pay coming soon!
We apologize for any inconvenience.
Please choose an available deposit method:
Credit Card | PayPal”

marketing-strategy-payment-options
Should this client invest in alternative payment methods? Only the test will tell!

Not only did this test provide the client with the insight they were looking for about which alternative payment methods their users prefer, but (BONUS!) it also produced significant increases in conversions, even though that was not our intention.

Because they tested first, this client can now invest in the alternative payment options that are most preferred by their users with confidence. Making a big business change doesn’t have to be a gamble.

As Sarah Breen of ASICS said,

We’re proving our assumptions with data. Testing allows me to say, ‘This is why we took this direction. We’re not just doing what our competitors do, it’s not just doing something that we saw on a site that sells used cars. This is something that’s been proven to work on our site and we’re going to move forward with it.’

Testing what you actually offer, part I

Your company has put a lot of thought (research, resources, money) into determining what you should actually offer. It can be overwhelming to even ask the question, “Is our product line actually the best offering A) for our users and B) for our business?”

But asking the big scary questions is a must. Your users are evolving, how they shop is evolving, your competition is evolving. Your product offering must evolve as well.

Some companies bring in experienced product consultants to advise them, but why not take the question to the people (aka your users)…and test your offering.

An E-commerce Example

Big scary question: Have you ever considered reducing the number of products you offer?

One WiderFunnel client offers a huge variety of products. During a conversation between our Strategists and the marketing leaders at this company, the idea to test a reduced product line surfaced.

The thinking was that even if conversions stayed flat with a fewer-products variation, this test would be considered a winner if the reduction in products meant money saved on overhead costs, such as operations costs, shipping and logistics costs, manufacturing costs and so on.

marketing-strategy-jam-study
The Jam Study is one of the most famous demonstrations of the Paradox of Choice.

Plus! There is a psychological motivator that backs up less-is-more thinking: The Paradox of Choice suggests that fewer options might mean less anxiety for visitors. If a visitor has less anxiety about which product is more suitable for them, they may have increased confidence in actually purchasing.

After working with this client’s team to cut down their product line to just the essential top 3 products, our Strategists created what they refer to as the ‘Minimalist’ variation. This variation will be tested against the original product page, which features many products.

marketing-strategy-product-offerings
This client’s current product category page features many products. The ‘Minimalist’ variation highlights just their top 3 products.

If the ‘Minimalist’ variation is a clear winner, this client will be armed with the information they need to consider halting the manufacture of several older products—a potentially dramatic cost-saving initiative.

Even if the variation is a loser, the insights gained could be game-changing. If the ‘Minimalist’ variation results in a revenue loss of 10%, but the cost of manufacturing all of those other products is more than 10%, this client would experience a net revenue gain! Which means, they would want to seriously consider fewer products as an option.

Regardless of the outcome, an experiment like this one will give the marketing decision-maker evidence to make a more informed decision about a fundamental aspect of their business.

Cutting products is a huge business decision, but if you know how your users will respond ahead of time, you can make that decision without breaking a sweat.

Testing what you actually offer, part II

Experienced marketers often assume that they know best. They assume they know what their user wants and needs, because they have ‘been around’. They may assume that, because everybody else is offering something, it is the best offering―(the “our-competitors-are-emphasizing-this-so-it-must-be-the-most-important-offering” mentality).

Well, here’s another big scary question: Does your offering reflect what your users value most? Rather than guessing, push your team to dig into the data, find the gaps in your user experience, and test your offering.

A B2B Example

When we started working with SaaS company, Magento, they were offering a ‘Free Demo’ of the Enterprise Edition of their software. Offering a ‘Free Demo’ is a best practice for software companies—everybody does it and it was probably a no-brainer for Magento’s product team.

Looking at clickmap data, however, WiderFunnel’s Strategists noticed that Magento users were really engaged with the informational tabs lower down on the product page.

They had the option to try the ‘Free Demo’, but the data indicated that they were looking for more information. Unfortunately, once users had finished browsing tabs, there was nowhere else to go.

So, our Strategists decided to test a secondary ‘Talk to a specialist’ call-to-action.

marketing-strategy-magento-offering
Is the ‘Free Demo’ offering always what software shoppers are looking for?

This call-to-action hadn’t existed prior to this test, so the literal infinite conversion rate lift Magento saw in qualified sales calls was not surprising. What was surprising was the phone call we received 6 months later: Turns out the ‘Talk to a specialist’ leads were far more valuable than the ‘Get a free demo’ leads.

After several subsequent test rounds, “Talk to a specialist” became the main call-to-action on this page. Magento’s most valuable prospects value the opportunity to get more information from a specialist more than they value a free product demo. SaaS ‘best practices’ be damned.

Optimization is a way of doing business. It’s a strategy for embedding a test-and-learn culture within every fibre of your business.

– Chris Goward, Founder & CEO, WiderFunnel

You don’t need to be a mind-reader to know what your users want, and you don’t need to be a seer to know whether or not a big business change will succeed or flop. You simply need to test.

Leave your ego at the door and listen to what your users are telling you. Be the marketing leader with the answers, the leader who can see the future and can plan her growth strategy accordingly.

How do you use testing as a tool for making big business decisions? Let us know in the comments!

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