Setting up an A/B Test the Right Way

Are you interested in how a/b testing can utilize your marketing dollars to their fullest potential? In this article we’ll get you started on your way to increasing conversions for your business by showing you how simple it is to set up an a/b test to maximize your marketing potential.

Setting up an A/B Test the Right Way

Setting up an A/B Test the Right Way

Setting up The Test

After you decided what to test, the next step is to set up the test. Decide first what tool is best for the job: Visual Website Optimizer is an easy solution with plenty of extra features. Google’s website optimizer is another option if you don’t mind playing around with HTML and Javascript. Finally, Vertser, SiteSpect, and Omniture’s Test & Target are enterprise testing tools and are additional options to consider.  Setting up the test is similar for all tools, and we’ll discuss the procedure for doing so below.

First decide how you want to set up the test through the following methods:

Replace the element to be tested before the page loads

Start by creating variations of the element to be tested (i.e. sign-up button) in HTML using your testing tool. When the test is live, the A/B tool will randomly replace the original element on the page with one of the variations before displaying the page to the visitor.

Redirect to another page

Redirecting to another page is suitable if you wish to test an entire page. Simply create a new page and upload it to your website. For example, if your home page is, then you’ll need to create a variation located at

Here’s how to set up a test:

  1. Choose the pages to test
  2. Define the elements to test
  3. Add tags to the original page, the variation page and the conversion pages to allow tracking.
  4. Enter the website URLs you are testing into your tools testing window.
  5. The test should be set up so that both the “A” and “B” variation are tested at the same time and in such a way that individual visitors only see a single variation, even on repeat visits
  6. Access results in your testing tools dialog box to see which variant is the most successful.

After you receive a significant amount of traffic, check the results to see which variation received the most conversions and then implement the winner into your website or campaign. As you can see, setting up a/b tests and running them isn’t as difficult as it may seem.

Setting up an A/B Test the Right Way

Helpful Tips

Test Long Enough – You’ll want to reach a point in your testing where the results have been determined to be statistically significant. If you have only a few conversions for each variation don’t throw in the towel yet. Tools such as this online calculator will help you determine how long to run the test for. For instance, if you’re running two call to actions, you should wait until you have at least 100 clicks for each one. You can then direct your attention towards the more successful call to action instead of running the least successful one longer.

Avoid Surprises – Test out this variation with only new visitors, that way regular visitors aren’t surprised by the changes. On the same token, show the same variation to repeat visitors. Nothing can skew your test results more than showing version A on one visit and version B on another. By having provisions in your code, you’ll avoid these and other blunders, such as showing a different call to action.

Stay Consistent – Make sure your a/b test is consistent across your entire website. Prevent skewed results by always presenting the same element as is on all designated areas of the website. If, for instance, you show one purchase button on one page and another variation of that same purchase button on another, the results will be skewed.


Setting up and running a/b test doesn’t have to be as troublesome as you think. In this article I’ve run you through simple steps in ensuring your a/b test reaches its fullest potential.

About Author

Mark Simpson is Founder and President of Maxymiser, the global expert in multivariate testing and behavioral targeting solutions. Mark introduced Maxymiser’s revolutionary Customer Experience Optimization platform to the market in 2006, which improves website and mobile conversion rates, revenue and overall brand experience for all commercial industries. Headquartered in New York and London, Maxymiser works with brands such as Finish Line, Hertz, Teleflora and Time Warner Cable, to instill cultures of conversion best practice, increase brand loyalty and improve revenues.

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