The Best A/B Test Idea You Haven’t Thought Of

By Phil Sharp | September 2, 2014
The Best A/B Test Idea You Haven’t Thought Of

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Let’s make a deal. If I promise to be completely honest, will you promise to keep reading this post?

Because, the truth is, I don’t actually know the best A/B test idea you haven’t thought of. But, wait! Don’t leave! You promised to keep reading (I hope).

Even though I don’t know the idea, I know who does, and I know how to get them to tell you.

The best A/B test idea you haven’t thought of is going to come directly from your prospects.

By running three types of user tests, you’ll see and hear where your prospects get stuck and confused on your site so you can make their experience better (and make your company even more money).

Your analytics are going to tell you where your visitors are leaving your site, and what your conversion rate is, but user testing will tell you why. Once you understand why your prospects are struggling, you can create a B version that addresses the underlying issues and boosts your conversion rate.

Three types of user tests to generate A/B test ideas

User test #1: Send 3 users through your funnel

Have three people in your target market start on your homepage and work their way through your funnel. So, if you’re an e-commerce store that sells shoes, you can have a user:

  • Find a pair of shoes they’d like to buy

  • Add the shoes to their cart

  • Go as far in the checkout process as they can

Then, sit back and watch as people look for shoes in ways that you never thought possible. Observe as, despite all your hard work, they can’t find the call-to-action button that is completely obvious to you and your co-workers. Trust me, you’re going to be amazed at what you find.

User test #2: Send 3 different users to your competitor’s site

Testing your competitor’s site is one of the smartest (and easiest) things you can do to boost your conversion rate. It’s beneficial for a few reasons:

  • You’re less defensive. When you watch users struggle on your own site, it’s easy to get defensive and start to ignore some of the great feedback. If a user misses something you think is obvious, you might be tempted to blame them rather than to change your site. However, when you watch users struggle with your competition, you’re wide open to feedback. This means you’ll learn even more than you normally would!

  • You’ll be exposed to new ideas. There’s a good chance that a user will find at least one aspect of your competitor’s site really enjoyable. Maybe there’s a filtering option that you didn’t think was important. Or, there’s something about the way that products are displayed that they love. Use that learning and find how you can apply it to your own site.

To test your competitor’s site, simply run the same test you did with “User Test #1” but have the user start at your competitor’s URL (instead of your own).

User test #3: Send 3 different users to one of the HUGE companies in your space

Send a few users to one of the “juggernauts” in your space. If you’re an e-commerce store, watch some people buy things from Amazon. What features do they love that you can incorporate in your own site? Where do they get stuck? If you’re selling a hardware tech product, then send some people to Apple’s website.

These “juggernaut” companies have spent massive amounts of money optimizing their sites. By user testing them, you get a lot of their insights at a fraction of the cost.

Don’t trust your gut!

No matter how skilled we are as marketers, we can’t rely on our own knowledge to come up with the best A/B testing ideas. After looking at our sites each and every day, we can no longer see them the same way that our visitors do.

To get the best A/B testing ideas, you need to watch your target market use your site, your competitors, and the juggernauts in your space. You’ll start to understand why people aren’t converting so that you can fix it and boost your conversion rate.

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About the author(s)
Phil Sharp

Phil is the former VP of Marketing at UserTesting, where he directed the marketing strategy, communications, online campaigns, and web optimization.