A/B testing is one of the best things brands can do to boost PPC performance. Yet, more than 40 percent fail to take this crucial step, FinancesOnline reports. This page will walk you through the basics of Google Ads A/B testing, including the benefits, how it works, and what to test.
What is A/B Testing?
A/B testing allows you to split your visitors into two groups so you can test two versions of ad assets to see which performs best. The “A” version is your original or “control.” The “B” version or “variant” contains the idea you’re testing.
It’s also referred to as “split testing.” However, split testing is the umbrella term used whenever you test variables against a control. A/B testing is specific because you only test one version against the original. This makes it easier to identify what caused the change if your test shows a difference in the performance of your “A” and “B” versions.
If you have experience with Google Ads, you may already be familiar with Responsive Search Ads. They’re Google’s way of automating split testing because they’re constantly rearranging and testing parts of your ads to see which combinations perform best. However, Responsive Search Ads don’t test all components of your ads, and it’s helpful to understand how A/B testing works in general so that you can apply what you know on other advertising platforms, too.
Benefits of A/B Testing
Following best practices is a good starting point. Still, the reality is that not even the most knowledgeable business owner or best marketer accurately predicts how prospective customers will behave 100 percent of the time. Even seasoned PPC experts are surprised by the results of A/B tests from time to time. Testing, therefore, delivers a wealth of benefits.
Google Ads A/B testing can help you increase clicks by showing you which ad copy your audience responds to best. Brands have doubled their clickthrough rate this way, WordStream reports.
More than half of all marketers use A/B testing to improve their conversions, per FinancesOnline.
Better User Experience
A/B testing gives you insights into user preferences so you can shape the experience to meet their needs better. While this obviously impacts how people engage with a brand, it also impacts your Ad Quality Score. A better score means you’ll likely pay less to advertise.
The data you receive through testing can help you identify whether initiatives are worth it. For instance, A/B tests showed Bing that a 100-millisecond speed difference impacted revenue by 0.6 percent, per Harvard Business Review. While seemingly small, that boost was worth $18 million annually. The company learned that it made sense to invest in development, even though the speed improvement would be small.
Greater ROI and Profit
All these things increase PPC ROI and boost profit. While you may not see dramatic changes overnight, repeated Google Ads A/B testing will help you optimize your campaigns over time and give you insights into your audience that you can apply to your other marketing campaigns.
What to Test
Now, let’s do a quick run-through of some things you can perform Google Ads A/B testing on.
- Ad copy: Explore variants of the headline and description independently.
- Ad extensions: Callout, promotion, call, location, site link, price, and other ad extensions can all increase clicks.
- Targeting: Experiment with targeting, including things like audiences, times, and devices.
- Calls to action (CTAs): 85 percent of brands prioritize CTA triggers when A/B testing, per FinancesOnline. Try different phrases and colors.
- Follow-up emails: If you’re sending automated emails to your PPC leads, try experimenting with different subject lines, preview text, and senders to increase opens. Also, test body copy and graphics to boost clicks and conversions.
- Keywords: Ensure you’re using the right keywords to maximize conversions.
- Landing pages: 60 percent of brands test landing pages, per FinancesOnline.
- Landing page links: If your ad platform allows it, experiment with different links to your site. This can be totally different page names or even just the capitalization.
- Offers: Find out which offers your audience responds to. Sometimes, even different wording of the same offer can boost conversions, too.
- Visual aids: Experiment with different images, gifs, and videos to see what keeps people on the page longest and increases conversions.
Common A/B Testing Mistakes
A/B testing PPC mistakes are all too common. Keep the following issues in mind as you begin.
Testing Too Many Variables at Once
If you change more than one variable in your variant or “B” copy, it’s impossible to know which change influenced your results.
Not Testing Variables at the Same Time
Brands without dedicated A/B testing tools sometimes try to run one version and then run the other after it. The problem with this approach is that audiences and traffic vary based on the day and time of day. If you’re not measuring the results of both variants at the same time, your test may be influenced by external factors.
Ending Tests Too Early
Generally speaking, you need at least 30,000 visitors and 3,000 conversions per variant to determine a winner. However, sophisticated A/B testing programs can predict which variant will win with much smaller data sets. Follow the guidelines provided by your A/B testing tool and explore different algorithms that work with smaller data sets if you’re working with limited users.
Failing to Run Tests Continuously
Because it takes a considerable amount of data to declare a winner, and each test can potentially improve your advertising results, you should always be running some kind of test. It may be helpful to brainstorm A/B testing ideas and then track them all on a single spreadsheet so you always know which test is running and what you’ll be testing next.
Failing to Set Goals
It’s important to know what your goal is before you begin testing. Some metrics brands use include:
- Ad clicks
- Time on site
- Conversion rate
- Average order value
Put Your Google Ads A/B Testing on Autopilot
The most common reason brands don’t perform A/B tests is the time investment, but it’s impossible to get maximum ROI from your ads when you skip this crucial step. If a lack of time, tools, or expertise is holding you back from achieving strong PPC results, let an experienced PPC agency take care of it for you. Request a complimentary consultation to learn more or get started.