A Beginner’s Guide to eCommerce A/B Testing in WordPress

Making changes to your eCommerce website design that aren’t backed up with real-world data isn’t an effective way of improving your conversion rates. You could hire a developer and have them make changes based on your guesses, but what if it doesn’t work and you end up losing customers?

A/B testing your website can help you arrive at a design that your visitors respond to in the best possible way. The best eCommerce sites understand that there’s always room for improvement, and regular testing plays a key role in paving your path to success.

In this post, we’ll show you how to test your eCommerce website, along with the plugins you’ll need – but first, let’s cover the basics of what A/B testing is and why you should be doing it.

What A/B Testing Is and Why It’s Important

A/B (or split) testing offers multiple versions of a page element to your website’s visitors to determine which one converts better. For instance, in an A/B test with two variants (A and B), half of your site’s visitors would see web page A and the other half would see web page B. The site that performs better, wins.

Testing multiple variants of your site gives you concrete results, enabling you to implement what works, and discard what doesn’t. In a nutshell, A/B testing enables users to optimize their site’s design and functionality for conversions.

Choosing Your Testing Metrics And Elements

The testing process itself is fairly easy to understand, and offers some definite benefits. However, leveraging it to its full potential involves monitoring metrics that will be invaluable to your site’s growth in the long run. From an eCommerce perspective, you should at least be tracking:

  • Cart abandonment rate. This indicates the visitors who added products to their carts, but didn’t make it through the checkout page.
  • Average order value. This determines how much profit you’re gaining per order on average. It enables you to figure out how much money you can make based on your site’s traffic and conversion rates.
  • Bounce rate. This indicates the number of visitors who visited your landing page, then left without interacting with the page.

Once you’ve laid down the metrics you’d like to monitor, you’ll need to figure out which page elements to test. There are a myriad of elements to choose from, but we recommend using common interactive points such as forms, your checkout page length and layout, your cart placement, and your call to action text and buttons.

Why You Should A/B Test Your eCommerce Website

A/B testing with a crystal clear strategy in mind is vital, but what’s even more important is to understand why you’re doing it in the first place. Here are three key reasons.

1. To See If The Design Works

A/B testing gives you rock-solid evidence of what works and what doesn’t. For example, take a checkout page with a form that requires the visitor to enter some personal details in order to complete their transaction. While it’s easy to read, visually appealing, and simple enough to follow, you find that sales aren’t improving, while your cart abandonment rate is rising – what went wrong?

With a split test, you can gain insight into user behavior to find out exactly why visitors are leaving. It could be the length of the form, or some confusing text. Whatever the problem, A/B testing helps you pinpoint where your design went wrong.

2. To Analyze How Well the Design Works

If a variation seems to work well, it’s important to determine its effectiveness. Split testing should be performed regularly, and measuring how well a particular implementation works helps you to improve what’s already there.

Of course, you can choose to measure your design’s impact against a single metric, or a combination. Some – such as cart abandonment rate, bounce rate, and average order value – are a great starting point. However, to take things to the next level, you can measure other key performance indicators such as the time spent on site, your affiliate performance rates, and query resolution times.

3. To Evaluate The Design

Finally, another benefit of A/B testing is that even if none of your ideas work out, the results will almost always help you understand why, and point you in the right direction. With A/B testing, the more design iterations you go through, the better. You’ll happen upon some new ideas each and every time.

Now you have a better understanding of what A/B testing is and why you should be doing it, let’s see how you can get started with it in WordPress.

A Beginner’s Guide to eCommerce A/B Testing in WordPress

In this section, we’ll lay out the six key steps you’ll need to follow in order to conduct quality eCommerce A/B testing. Once we’re done, you’ll be ready to take matters into your own hands. Let’s take a look!

Step 1: Choose A Suitable Plugin

Although there are several offsite A/B testing tools available, using a WordPress plugin to get the job done has its own benefits. For a start, you won’t have to connect to a third-party service or worry about integration. Here are three plugins we recommend:

  1. WordPress Calls to Action. This plugin enables you to create and test the conversion rates of the calls to action on your website. It’s a great option for users who are building landing pages.
  2. Nelio AB Testing. This plugin is incredibly easy to use and enables you to setup, manage, and monitor split tests. It also generates daily reports about test experiments and conversions.
  3. Title Experiments Free. The plugin helps you to split test your post’s titles to find out which ones lead to more page views. It can create variations for you and reports both impressions and page views.

While all of these solutions are suitable, if you’re looking for a complete A/B testing solution, we recommend the Nelio AB Testing plugin. It’s great for beginners and pros alike.

Step 2: Conduct Your Research

Once you’ve chosen a suitable plugin, you’ll need to figure out what you want to split test. If you’re reading this post, the chances are that you already have a few things in mind. That said, it’s always a good idea to conduct some research to find out even more.

You can start by studying your analytics to ascertain your visitor’s user behavior. This will help you determine why they’re not completing their transactions, abandoning their shopping carts, or whatever else you may be looking for. Another foolproof method of gaining insight into user behavior is to ask them directly for feedback – after all, who better to get insight from than your actual users?

Step 3: Define Your Goals

The next step in A/B testing is to define clear goals that you’d like to achieve. Setting goals enables you to validate whether the tests worked, and if so, their overall effectiveness.

You don’t need to be particularly specific when it comes to setting goals. For instance, it could simply be to “increase conversion rates” instead of “increase conversion rates by 35 percent” – and of course, the goals you set can be based on almost any metric you like.

Step 4: Select Your Testing Variables

As an eCommerce site owner, you’ve probably identified some page elements that you think could undergo testing. In this step, you’ll actually have to pick one to test. The element you choose should tick off some (or all) of these points:

  1. The design may be affecting user behavior negatively.
  2. Its placement may be off.
  3. The color scheme doesn’t fit in with the brand.
  4. Its wording may be off-putting.

Be mindful not to get too deep at this stage. Simply select one element that you’d like to test to act as your ‘test variable’.

Step 5: Develop Your Testing Variants

Now that you have the test variable, it’s time to create some variations. Since we’re split testing, simply create a duplicate of the web page you’d like to test, add the variable as is to one of them (we’ll call it web page A), and its variation to the other (web page B).

The testing tool you use will automatically redirect half of your site’s traffic to web page A, and the other half to web page B. Ideally, you should present the variation to new visitors in order to get accurate results – your chosen tool will normally have options for doing so in its admin panel.

Step 6: Run The Tests And Analyze The Results

With everything set in place, you can launch your first A/B test! Here are a few points to keep in mind:

  1. Make sure that you’re testing both web page A and web page B simultaneously.
  2. The only difference between web page A and web page B is the test variable.
  3. Any design update you make your pages throughout the duration of the test should be applied to both variants to maintain consistency.

Once the tests are in motion, you can start analyzing your user’s behavior. The testing tool you use should provide some insight into the test results; however, you can always check out your site’s analytics too.

Conclusion

Making modifications to your eCommerce website’s design at random and hoping for the best simply isn’t effective. With A/B testing you can make informed decisions regarding your website’s design, that are backed up with real data and experiments.

If you thought it was difficult to get started with split testing, think again! Let’s recap the process:

  1. Choose a suitable plugin.
  2. Conduct your research.
  3. Define your goals.
  4. Select your testing variables.
  5. Develop your testing variables.
  6. Run tests and analyze the results.

Do you have any questions about A/B testing your eCommerce site? Get in touch via the comments section below and let us know!

Image credit: anelka.

John Hughes

John is a blogging addict, WordPress fanatic, and a staff writer for WordCandy.

The post A Beginner’s Guide to eCommerce A/B Testing in WordPress appeared first on Torque.

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