The Basics Of A/B Testing For Manufacturers And Industrial Companies

Much like the machines on your shop floor, you want to make sure that your industrial marketing is working to its full potential and producing results you expect. A/B testing (also referred to as split testing, multivariate testing, or iterative testing) can help you continuously update your online marketing efforts to ensure maximum ROI.

Not familiar with the term, or curious how A/B testing works? Here’s a basic overview.

What Is A/B Testing?

A/B testing is the process of creating two (or more) versions of digital marketing assets — emails, web pages, display ads, etc. — to identify which version performs better.

For example, to improve the click-through rate on a web page, you would split your web visitors into two groups (A and B). Visitors in Group A will see a blue button, while visitors in Group B will see a red button. (Click here for a refresher on common industrial marketing terms, like "click-through rate".)

With the right technology and expertise, you can gather data and determine which version prompts more people to click the button.

ab testing

Why A/B Testing Works

Think about the different elements that make up your various marketing assets — words, images, color schemes, layouts, etc. What do all of these things have in common?

They are entirely subjective.

What looks great and reads well to you may not resonate with other people. Your colleagues will likely have their own opinions, which can lead to arguments and debates. Even worse, your prospects will have their opinions, which can lead to poor results and missed opportunities.

Read More About Choosing The Right Colors: The Role Color Theory In Marketing

A/B testing takes the guesswork out of digital marketing through the collection of data. By measuring the results of each test, you can get an objective understanding of what works and what doesn’t. That presents more possibilities for higher conversions. Marketers' primary reasons for running A/B tests is to find out what issues are causing people to leave your website, not open your email, not submit their contact information, etc. Here are some common questions that industrial marketers have where A/B testing can apply:

  • Do your prospects prefer red or blue CTAs?
  • Should your subject lines be written as questions or statements?
  • Is it better to put your forms on the left side of your landing pages or the right? (We A/B tested the placement of forms here.)

From your A/B test results, you can continuously fine-tune your marketing assets and campaigns to improve your lead conversions.

What Is The A/B Testing Process?

Collect Your Data To Plan Your A/B Test

During this initial phase, you want to start gathering data that will serve as your baseline. Depending on what you want to measure, this may require investing in different technologies, such as HubSpot or Optimizely. You may also want to get familiar with Google Analytics to determine your benchmarks and what you'd like to improve.

Identify Your Goal 

With the baseline data available, you should determine your goals. What do you want to improve, and what do you need to measure? Do you want to get more email signups or increase RFQs? Make a hypothesis about one or two changes you think will improve your online asset's conversion rate and document it so you remember what you're experimenting on.

Related Resource: A/B Examples For Manufacturers and Industrial Companies

Build Your A/B Test

It’s time to get to work. Start by looking at your goals and creating a list of ways you can achieve them through A/B testing. Form an official hypothesis for each one (e.g., By making change X, I expect to improve Y results), and order your list by which hypothesis you have the most confidence in.

Then create and deploy your test variations. Many online digital marketing tools like HubSpot have editors that will make your changes easy to do and will automatically segment your online visitors for you.

Analyze Your A/B Test

This phase is when you gather and analyze data. Make sure each interaction is captured, and keep an eye on your tools and data to spot early trends.

When the test has run its course and you have gathered a statistically significant sample size, see how each version of the test performed, and determine whether or not your hypothesis proved correct. Remember there can be many external variables that affect your test — like a holiday weekend or what's going on in the economy. For A/B tests on your website, set a reasonable time frame for the test to run.

Put Your A/B Test Winner To Action

Based on your results, begin incorporating what you learned across your campaigns. For example, if a yellow CTA received higher clicks than a green CTA on your landing page, you should consider using yellow CTAs throughout your website. There may be times when your A/B test received inconclusive results or your hypothesis didn't quite work out as you expected. Use it as a learning experience and formulate new tests to run in the future.

Manufacturers And Industrial Companies Should Practice A/B Testing

The industrial buying process can be complicated — A/B tests ensure manufacturers and industrial companies are engaging with the right buyers at the right time with the right content. A/B testing helps justify what to optimize in online campaigns to boost visitor metrics, click-through-rates, conversions, lead generation — and effectively contribute to your bottom line. We've compiled a list of 25 Website Must-Haves that are proven to drive more leads for manufacturing and industrial companies — get your copy here.

Want to get started, but not sure if you have the right tools in place? There are a ton of digital marketing tactics manufacturers and industrial companies are using today — email marketing, PPC, social media, landing pages, etc. If you need help setting up your tests or if you have any questions about the results of one of your campaigns, contact our digital marketing experts. New call-to-action

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