By Ryan Malone

The days of trusting your gut and rolling with it when it comes to marketing efforts are gone. For optimum inbound marketing success, marketers should always be testing, analyzing, and adjusting their programs to achieve the optimum conversions.

There are many methods you can employ to test various elements of your marketing campaigns and see which variations perform better, but here are the most used and most valuable.

A/B Testing

A/B testing is a tool that is particularly revealing for analyzing the design and effectiveness of landing pages, calls to action, subject lines in emails, headlines, form lengths and types, webpage layouts and styles, promotional offers, product pricing, images, length of copy, and much more.

When conducting A/B testing, two identical items are created and one or two elements are adjusted to see which resonate better with the target audience. Then the two different versions are offered up randomly to see which achieves the most desired results, whether sign-ups, downloads, or something else.

Not sure where to start? Here are five easy A/B tests you can implement in your marketing automation tool:

  1. Email Subject Lines: Your email subject line is the deciding factor of whether your email gets opened or not. When A/B testing a subject line, you could have one variation tease what's inside the email, while the other variation completely spells out exactly what the reader will get inside the email.
  2. Email Layout: Layout can be a big turnoff for email subscribers. For example, your subscribers may prefer a one-column layout to a two-column layout, or they may prefer a certain color within your layout over another. By testing layout variations, you're able to cater to your audience's preferences.
  3. Landing Page Headlines: Landing page headlines are similar to email subject lines, because they are an element that should be frequently tested. Subtle variations in your headline can make big differences in your click-through rate.
  4. Calls to Action: CTAs can have many variations, whether color, wording, shape, size, or position on a landing page or email. Just like with headlines, subtle changes to your CTAs can make a large difference in conversion rates.
  5. Images: The number of images used, the kind of images used, and where they are placed are all great examples of factors you can A/B test with images. 

Find out how to develop a quality, lead-generating website. Download: The Keys  to Website UX and Usability


Content Testing

Hours, even days, can be spent creating an email, landing page, or white paper. From the behind-the-scenes work done by developers, to the layout created by the design firm, to the verbiage and tools selected, everything must be evaluated. It may be perfect in your eyes, but what does your target market think? Here are eight things to consider when evaluating content:

  1. Is the purpose of the page clear when viewed for three seconds without scrolling?
  2. Is the company name/logo obvious or prominent?
  3. Is the page clear about what you're offering and what you want the visitor to do: download a white paper or e-book, complete a contact form, and so on?
  4. Does the content convey your company's expertise and knowledge? Is it current?
  5. Is your physical location easy to find on the page?
  6. Is your site accessible to everyone, regardless of ability, computer, modem, browser, or preferences?
  7. Is the page orderly with plenty of white space?
  8. Is the page calm, not too busy, or is it overloaded with images, colors, and calls to action?

Make sure the end message, sales pitch, or offer remains the same in a content test. Alter the layout, images, calls to action, and wording to see what elements resonate better with your customers.

Multivariate Testing

This method doesn't call for creating multiple pages, but it tests the same page by changing elements around after having them a certain way for a specific time period.

Test headlines, colors, buttons, and images on the same page by comparing each element with the other to find the best possible combination of elements.

Geo-Target Testing

People arrive to your website from around the world—different countries, languages, currencies, climates, and cultures. How can you best cater to such diversity of variables all at once? Geo-targeting.

Geo-targeting is a tool that leverages geo-location by identifying a website visitor's location by their GPS, IP address, or WiFi data to deliver advertisements.

Try one of these ways to use geo-targeting to increase conversions on your website:

  • Experiment with languages and currency via a redirect based on IP address or language option buttons on the page.
  • Try local offers via Google Ads or Groupon and make sure to track the data carefully for accurate results.
  • Match marketing between groups.
  • Test visual elements—photos, forms, and layout—understanding that catering to cultural differences can lead to conversions.

Eye Track Testing

Eye tracking is popular in user research, providing direct insight into where people are looking when viewing a webpage.

Using methods such as heat maps, gaze plots, and gaze replays, researchers can review page layout and adjust for results that show what test subjects’ eyes are drawn to.

These tests help answer questions like:

  • Do they understand the layout and software?
  • What do they look at but not click on?
  • How well do the icons and symbols direct the user?
  • What steps are involved in their decision-making process?

Eye tracking can provide cleaner test results due to the lack of interruptions and offer behavioral insight that may not be found through an observer asking questions.

Usability Testing

Your website design may be gorgeous, filled with visual elements, soothing colors, and plenty of white space—but if it is difficult for users to find the information they’re searching for, you’ll lose them quickly.

The best websites cater to their target audience by displaying the information or products that brought them to the site—before visitors abandon the site to go to the competition. Evaluate your site based via explorative, assessing, or comparative methods. Types of usability testing methods include: hallway testing, remote usability testing, expert review, paper prototype testing, automated usability evaluation, questionnaires and interviews, and controlled experiments.

Final Thoughts

A website is not an electronic version of your brochures. It is a living, dynamic tool to reach your customers. Testing is essential in order to be sure that your inbound marketing is continually delivering the right message to the right customers. It is not just making sure that all the features and functions on your website work—it is a constant focus on ensuring that it is absolutely the best presentation of your company that it can be.  

Not sure where to start testing your website? Contact SmartBug Media. Our team has the insight and experience to deliver solid, understandable results from testing.

This post was originally published on March 13, 2013, and was updated in February 2020.

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Ryan Malone

About the author

Ryan Malone is the founder and CEO of SmartBug Media and is a veteran of Deloitte & Touche, Seagate and several venture-backed technology companies. When he's not leading SmartBug and helping clients build high-octane marketing organizations, he's loving his wife and daughters and unsuccessfully learning the guitar. Go Terps! Read more articles by Ryan Malone.

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