Understanding A/B Testing for School WebsitesMarch 5, 2018
When it comes to digital marketing, A/B testing can be described as running controlled tests to determine a higher performing ad, website asset or website page. For the purpose of this post, we will focus on school websites and how schools can use A/B testing to determine the content on their websites that performs best.
How to run an A/B test for free
While there is software out there designed to help you run A/B tests (like Optimizely, for example), you can run your own A/B test by making and monitoring changes to your school website. Let’s use your homepage call to action as an example, and imagine that you want to determine whether using ‘REQUEST A PROSPECTUS’ or ‘ENROL NOW’ gets more clicks on your homepage. This test can be run by selecting two time periods that are expected to be even in terms of traffic and user behaviour, and by placing each call to action on the homepage for an even period of time. Finally, use your Google Analytics account to determine which call to action had the highest click through rate (CTR) and conversion rate.
Considerations for an A/B test
There are a number of important considerations that should be taken into account, prior to the design of an A/B test:
- Other than the asset or item being tested, all other aspects of the website should remain the same for the highest accuracy. If other elements of the website are changed between tests, they can affect the outcome of the test.
- Use past data to ensure that the two time periods are comparable. Results may be skewed if for example one test is run a few weeks away from an enrolment deadline and the other is run right near the enrolment deadline.
- Ensure that the two items in the test being run are distinctly different to one another. If the two items are similar, test results won’t vary at a level that is meaningful.
Recommended items to A/B test
Call to action text
The text that you use to encourage users to take action on your website can significantly impact their behaviour. A/B test the text you use and ensure you vary the voice, length or style of text to determine what your audience responds to best.
Call to action types
There are a number of ways that websites can display calls to action, with text links, buttons and forms being among the most popular. A/B test the types of calls to action that your audience prefer to respond to.
Your homepage content can have a significant impact upon the website pages that your users visit. If your goal is to get users to your Enrolments page, for example, test the images or content blocks that you use to encourage clicks to the page.
Finally, it is important when running your own A/B tests, that your school’s website is built on a Content Management System (CMS) that allows you to make simple and quick website changes.