A/B Testing Examples for Optimizing Content (Plus Benefits)

Updated February 3, 2023

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A/B testing in a digital environment allows marketers and web designers to compare the performance of different versions of a digital asset with users. This direct comparison can help companies optimize digital experiences and increase customer engagement. If you work in marketing, UX design or web design, it might be beneficial to learn more about this research methodology and view some A/B testing examples. 

In this article, we define A/B testing, describe its benefits, list best practices and provide three A/B testing examples from the real world.

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What is A/B testing?

A/B testing, or split testing, is a direct comparison between two different versions of an online marketing asset, like a social media post, webpage, mobile application or advertising email. For example, an airline company may market the same international airfare price through different versions of email and social media marketing posts over the course of a week. They can use the data and analysis to determine which performed best and generated customer engagement, clicks, comments and actual ticket sales.

Here are digital elements you can use to conduct A/B testing: 

  • Web design and layout

  • Headlines

  • Copy and sub-headlines

  • Site navigation

  • Forms

  • Colors

  • Buttons

  • Call to action

Continuous A/B testing lets you further figure out your customer audience and what they like, respond to or are influenced by to improve your success and increase sales and revenue. For example, the same airline may focus on one element at a time, like changing the photograph selection, font color or type, headline keywords or button icon to get a solid understanding of a customer mindset. Learning what changes in one or two variables affects your target audience can impact revenue and engagement.

Read more: What is A/B Testing? Definition, Importance and How-To Guide

3 examples of A/B testing

Examples of A/B testing are in nearly every industry that uses digital marketing. Here are three examples of common industries and how they apply A/B testing:

1. A/B testing for ecommerce sites

Ecommerce websites and mobile applications rely on A/B testing to provide the best customer experience possible, since a smooth purchase funnel is crucial to gaining orders and profit.

Companies test out where and how to display shipping costs, showcase promotions, sales or free shipping, the shopping cart and checkout page features, visibility and placement of product reviews and the text font, size, color and placement throughout. Each change or refinement made is to encourage the consumer to buy or shop again.

One item often in continuous A/B testing is the shopping cart feature, which nearly every ecommerce site has and the shopping cart icon stays visible no matter which page you're on. It serves as a reminder for products you've put in your cart but also encourages you to:

  • Keep shopping

  • Explore daily deals

  • View items on your wish list

  • Purchase

  • Turn on the one-click payment feature

The one-click ordering button is commonplace for many well-known online retailers and results from extensive A/B testing. It allows customers to make a purchase without visiting their shopping cart entirely once they store default billing and shipping information into their account. Because one-click ordering is easy, you're more likely to buy instantly than to go comparison shopping elsewhere.

Related: How To Analyze A/B Test Results To Gain Marketing Insight

2. A/B testing for the travel industry

The travel industry uses A/B testing to increase bookings and ancillary revenue by testing variations of layout, presentation, colors, progress bar and booking buttons. From hotels, airlines, home rentals, tour companies and rental cars, the travel industry runs A/B testing on all of their media platforms, including websites, mobile applications and social media posts.

For example, creating two versions of a landing page to see which registration is easier to create a login for a home rental app can increase both the number of hosts and the number of travelers looking for lodging and ultimately increase revenue from both users.

Related: Multivariate Testing vs. A/B Testing in Marketing (FAQs)

3. A/B testing of streaming service platforms

Streaming service platforms use A/B testing to increase audience, subscriptions, video views and social sharing, for example. The user experience and personalization particularly benefit from A/B testing by using your watch history and preferences to showcase certain titles in the category rows on the video streaming homepage.

Platforms can personalize what titles show for each category to encourage us to watch and the top-watched category features popular titles amongst all users. Streaming services often test out these personalization pages and layouts to determine which is more user-friendly.

Related: What Is Split Testing for Websites? (And Why It’s Important)

Benefits of A/B testing

A/B testing is important because it allows you to compare strategies against each other to see which performs best. You can discover possibilities and learn the best copy, design, language and other marketing materials best influence consumers to build an effective marketing campaign.

It allows you to generate data about human behavior without assumptions about customers and gives you solid statistics and insights to make better business decisions for your website, mobile application or social media platform. Here are six specific benefits of A/B testing explained:

  1. Reveal marketing strengths: A/B testing showcases the strengths of an advertisement, website, sale and other aspects of a marketing campaign. Teams can learn what works well, what needs improvement and what best suits a consumer of certain demographics.

  2. Increase conversion revenue: A/B testing requires little financial investment with a high revenue result by improving the likelihood of buyers from your current consumer traffic rather than relying on new customers. Even small A/B testing and changes can increase conversion rates for more revenue.

  3. Reduce bounce rates: A/B testing can help you identify reasons customers leave the website without making a purchase. Improving the user experience through A/B testing encourages visitors to spend more time with your site, reducing bounce rates and increasing the likelihood of conversion to a sale.

  4. Make low-risk changes: Using A/B testing allows you to make minimal modifications to your website to increase revenue rather than a full redesign, which can cost more and inadvertently affect existing positive user experience features. It often works off of your existing conversion rates and user experience rather than starting from the beginning

  5. Improve customer experience: The better a customer understands a website and knows how to use it, the more inclined they are to make a purchase, sign up for services or become a repeat user. Using A/B testing allows you to learn what the consumer enjoys and uses on your page or app.

  6. Feature change: You can use A/B testing to test out the launch of a new feature, product or service to better predict the outcome. By testing copy, colors, photos and call-to-action buttons, you can increase the success of a launch ahead of time by understanding what customers like.

Related: What Is Forms Testing? Definition, Importance and Steps

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A/B testing best practices

Best practices for A/B testing often include when, how and in what ways to conduct a test for your website or application. Here are five examples of best practices for A/B testing:

Test continuously

A/B testing often gives advantages over competitors, so companies of any size should continuously run tests for marketing materials like websites, graphics, advertisements, promotions, language and more. This can help you catch any errors before they cause issues for your customers.

Related: What is UX design? And How To Become a UX Designer

Use A/B testing for goals

Use A/B testing whenever you have a goal to achieve for your business. For example, if a social media page is not generating enough customer engagement conversions to actual sales, consider changing your content or the look of it, like images, font, icons and call-to-action words. Creating new ways to influence a customer based on what they like is key to conversion.

Related: Essential Skills for UX Designers (With Tips for Improving)

Keep it simple

Simplicity in advertising and marketing often resonates with consumers more. Smaller amounts of text are easier to understand and get read in completion more than wordy and distracting text. Soothing, neutral colors are more aesthetically pleasing as opposed to loud and bright colors.

Related: How To Become a UX Analyst: Skills and Steps

Start with high-performing material

Make the most of your A/B testing efforts by using marketing materials that already generate traffic and contribute to buyer leads and conversions. For example, a blog post with 50% more readership than another is a better investment to encourage more views than one with little readership. Consider starting with marketing elements like:

  • Website homepages

  • Product pages

  • Banner advertisements

  • Cart or basket landing pages

  • Social media posts

Related: 15 Tips To Improve Your Website and Reach a Wider Audience

Glean better insights when established

Because established companies and businesses already have a customer base, A/B testing is more effective because of customer engagement and traffic. New businesses can still benefit from A/B testing, though results may not offer the same level of accuracy until they experience more growth of their customer base.

Related: Customer Insights: Definition, Benefits and Steps

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