WordPress Plugins & Tools, WordPress Tips & Tricks

A/B Testing For WordPress Sites

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When people look at the success of a website, one of the first metrics they consider is the number of visitors. A website with 2,000 unique visitors per day is automatically considered to be a more “successful” website than a competitor’s site with 1,000 unique daily visitors. It makes sense, then, that when looking to optimize a website, many people focus on increasing their number of visitors.

But is this metric really the best indicator of a website’s success? Visitors could be coming from anywhere – dodgy click sharing schemes, clickbait articles, or from a ridiculously high ad budget thrown at poorly-created ads. But what happens after a visitor arrives on your website? Do they stick around, are they engaged, and does your website convert them? Or do they immediately bounce off to a different site?

Rather than seeking to increase your number of site views and unique visitors, why not concentrate on making the most of the visitors you already have by finding out what’s working on your site, what’s not, and using this information to get the best possible results from your existing traffic? That’s where A/B testing comes in.

What is A/B Testing?

A/B testing allows you to identify a single element on your website that you wish to test. Two versions of your website are then created, identical in every way except for the one chosen element. Unbeknownst to them, visitors to your website are randomly directed to one or other of the two website versions and their behavior is then carefully monitored, providing valuable insights on which version of the particular element your visitors respond best to.

The trick with A/B testing is to isolate individual elements, such as the wording of a headline, a color scheme, or the position of a link, and test each element individually. 

Based on the results of your individual test scenarios, you can implement the most successful version of each element knowing that future website visitors are likely to respond more favorably to that particular version.

Which Elements of a WordPress Site Should You A/B Test?

Almost every element of your WordPress site can be effectively tested using A/B testing methods. 

Homepage elements are an obvious starting point, with many people choosing to begin optimizing their homepage header and other above-the-fold content before moving further down the homepage and deeper into the website.

Among the items that can be A/B tested include:

  • Colors, including text color, background color, overall color schemes
  • Text, including content and font size and choice
  • Page layout, including the position of sidebars
  • Links, including link placement and anchor text
  • Calls to action, including wording, colors, and position
  • Graphic elements, including the choice and position of images
  • Forms, including the number of fields, the placement of the form, and the accompanying text
  • Menus, including content, placement, and the number of menu items to choose from.

Of course, it is not only a WordPress site’s homepage that can be optimized, but all pages and posts within the site, including landing pages, forms, and contact pages.

Top A/B Testing Plugins And Tools For WordPress

It was only a few years ago that A/B testing was considered too complicated for the majority of website owners to navigate on their own. Today, however, several amazing WordPress plug-ins and tools have simplified the A/B testing process to such an extent that campaigns can be set up and monitored by almost anyone. The following three A/B testing tools are aimed at different segments of the market with different needs. Read on to find out which A/B testing tool could be the right choice for you.

Google Optimize

Google Optimise is not a WordPress plug-in but a standalone tool integrated into a WordPress site by the insertion of a snippet of code into the header field. An extremely powerful tool, Google Optimise is also surprisingly simple to use.  

Perhaps even more surprising, it’s free to use for up to five simultaneous A/B experiments. A paid version does exist as part of Optimise 360, however the majority of users can get by with the free version without needing to upgrade.

In addition to the attractive price tag (or lack of), Google Optimise is the chosen A/B testing tool for many websites because of its seamless integration with Google Analytics.

But while Google Optimise is relatively accessible to most people – especially considering how difficult A/B testing was only a few years ago – it is not the simplest or most intuitive option available for WordPress users today. If you’re relatively skilled at WordPress, know your way around a stylesheet, and are looking for an A/B testing tool that integrates seamlessly with Google Analytics, Google Optimise could be an excellent choice.

Nelio A/B Testing

Nelio is a WordPress plug-in, so everything takes place within your normal WordPress dashboard. Operating on a subscription basis, Nelio starts at $29 per month for a basic plan on one site. Nelio’s primary advantage is its flexibility, allowing for all the normal sorts of experiments one would expect from an A/B testing tool, while also offering more macro-style A/B testing including different WordPress themes, widgets, and menus.

If you’re looking to test macro elements of your entire site in addition to testing and fine-tuning individual elements, and you want to remain within the WordPress dashboard rather than using a separate tool (and you’re happy to pay an ongoing subscription) Nelio could be an excellent A/B testing choice for you.

Split Hero

If you’re not as adept at WordPress coding as you’d like to be and you’re concerned that the other A/B testing tools and plug-ins listed here could be too complicated, Split Hero could be the ideal solution. Split Hero has done an excellent job of keeping A/B testing as simple as possible, only providing the data and options needed without making the process more complex than it needs to be.

At $29 per month, Split Hero is roughly the same price as Nelio. A maximum of three campaigns can be run at any time, which is typically more than enough for a standard user. Each campaign can include as many as four variations.

As with Nelio, Split Hero is a WordPress plug-in rather than a standalone tool, which means that everything happens within your normal WordPress dashboard.  

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If there is a drawback to A/B testing, it’s that results aren’t immediate. A/B testing necessarily involves sending visitors to your site over a period of time before real and meaningful data can be extracted. 

However, this doesn’t need to be seen as a drawback. Unlike other types of website optimization, A/B testing is not intended to be used sporadically. A/B testing is a never-ending process of website element fine-tuning, allowing you to regularly update your website based on the ongoing data as you strive to continuously provide the best website experience for your visitors, ultimately improving site experience and conversion on an ongoing basis.

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