A/B Test Your Content

Your content helps the visitors to your website form an opinion of you, and as such, it’s step one in their journey to conversion – so why aren’t you testing it yet?

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Your website’s content has multiple purposes: You need to communicate value to your prospective customers; you want to show the world you know what you’re doing within your industry and amongst the competition; you can push it out on social media; and without it, you’ve not got a hope in hell in making any SEO gains. Your content helps the visitors to your website form an opinion of you, and as such, it’s step one in their journey to conversion – so why aren’t you testing it yet?

Conversion rate optimisation aims to improve user experience, and thereby help drive conversions. It stands to reason, then, that as the first step in the customer journey,  your content deserves as much CRO-attention as your checkout process or the colour of your buttons. Here are some ways to A/B test your content that will help get you and your users off on the right foot.

A/B test your headlines

On average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, which means only 2 people will read any further. Depressing. But it serves to show how important that headline can be in encouraging people to click!

Think about who you’re talking to when you write your headline, how you’re going to benefit them, and what makes you the right choice. Devise a handful of decent headlines – maybe five, but there really is no magic number – that you believe will get readers to click, take your two favourites, and then set up an a/b test to show 50% of your audience one version, and 50% of them the other.

If you’re using your headline(s) in a biddable media campaign, create two ads, one using one headline, and one with the other. If you’re sending it out via email, split the recipient list in half and send two emails.

After you’ve sent the email, or run your ads, you can judge which headline performed best. Even if your traffic’s low, you’ll still likely to see patterns in clicks, which (although maybe not statistically significant) will still give you a clue as to what works best for your audience. Then, use the one that works!

A/B test your images

I am super-guilty of turning to an image to break up a wall of text. Can’t help it. I think paragraph after paragraph with no pictures looks boring and even intimidating to read, and with most people skimming when they read online, you’re not doing yourself any favours with a text-heavy page with no logical “breaks”.

Having said that, ambiguous stock photos smushed between paragraphs don’t really add to your content. They’re a missed opportunity. Across your entire site. Images can underpin your value proposition on your homepage, reinforce your message on your landing page, highlight important points in a blog post – they draw the reader’s eye.

If you’re sharing your content through social media, for example, the right feature image can be as powerful as that headline you just tested. For it to really work for you, your feature image must be relatable to your content’s subject, it must be eye-catching, and it must be of decent quality. Once you’ve got several you think might work, you can split your traffic out over them and see which image encourages the most clicks.

A/B test your wordcount

According to SumAll & Buffer, the ideal blog post length is 1,600 words (a seven minute read) in terms of readers’ engagement, while Moz found it to be longer still.

Testing the length of your content is a little more tricky than swapping out images and headlines. You can use Google Analytics to check back through older blog posts and compare time on page to determine how the length of a blog post impacts the attention of your readers specifically.

Alternatively, you could write two versions of your blog post, one long-form and one much shorter version and then run an a/b test to see which gets more likes and shares on social media.

A/B testing every step in the journey to conversion

Your content – whether it be from an email campaign, a social media update, or a paid ad – is often the beginning of the user journey, and so with the wrong type of content you risk getting off on the wrong foot! It’s just as important as the steps deeper into the journey to conversion, and so deserves just as much attention.

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