A/B Split Testing for WordPress
Not more than a week ago we were talking about three great plugins you can use to introduce split testing to your WordPress blog. We also covered the value of split testing itself, and explained why every affiliate should make split testing an important part of their work.
(Feel free to check the previous post out if you haven’t already – Split Testing WordPress Plugins.)
Just to make sure that we’re on the same page let’s recall what A/B split testing is, and what benefits it brings.
What A/B Split Testing Is
There’s a page on Wikipedia about A/B testing, but it doesn’t even sound like English, so here’s a more down-to-earth definition.
You’re doing A/B split testing whenever you’re dividing the visitors to your website in two groups of similar size and display different content to each group when they try to visit the same page.
For example, you can start by creating a page containing some sales message. Next you create a different version of the same message. Finally, you start a test in which some people see the original message and some see the variation. When data starts coming in you can decide which version is better (based on the conversion rates and sales numbers).
Let us say this again: split testing is the ultimate tool in every affiliate marketer’s arsenal. There’s no better way of improving your results in a given campaign than by split testing different messages.
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A/B Split Testing in WordPress
This post, however, is all about giving you a step by step tutorial on how to begin split testing with free tools and a free WordPress plugin. This should be a good entry point to the world of split testing if it’s your first go at it.
There are two preliminary things you need to do:
- Sign up for a Google Website Optimizer Account.
- Install and activate the GWO4WP WordPress plugin.
The easiest way of getting the plugin is to log in to the admin panel of your WordPress blog and go to Plugins > Add New.
There you can use the search field to find the plugin, and have it installed and activated (image below), all without the need to leave your blog.
Creating a Test in Google Website Optimizer
Start by going to your GWO (Google Website Optimizer) account and clicking the “Create a new experiment” link (or “Create another experiment” link).
There are two main types of experiments GWO lets you perform:
You can visit the Website Optimizer Help center’s link at the top to find out more, but for now you can just stick to the first option available: “A/B Experiment.”
In the next step GWO instructs you to take care of some things before you can launch your experiment:
What all of this means is that you have to create three (or more) pages/posts on your blog that will be a part of the test.
It’s up to you whether you want to do your test with pages or posts. It makes no difference from GWO’s perspective.
- Page/post #1. It’s your original page – the control. The test will compare any variations you create to this original page.
- Page/post #2. It’s your first variation of the original.
- Page/post #3. It’s your conversion/goal page. This is a page that the two previous pages link to. The idea is to check which version of your message is better, based on its effectiveness in convincing visitors to click through to the goal page (i.e. based on conversions).
Create these pages/posts like you normally would.
Go back to your GWO, check the checkbox and press the “Create >>” button.
This next step is where you get to set some basic information about your new experiment:
Start by naming your experiment. This has nothing to do with anything, it’s just a name by which you’ll recognize your experiment.
Note. GWO lets you to set more variations of the original page. However, for the purposes of this tutorial we are setting just one variation.
- Original page URL. It’s the address of your page/post#1.
- Page variation URL. It’s the address of your page/post#2.
- Conversion page URL. It’s the address of your page/post#3.
The next screen looks a little intimidating, but it’s where your new WordPress plugin comes handy. This is what GWO shows you:
(The page is actually a bit longer, we’re only presenting you the important part.)
You don’t have to pay attention to any of this stuff, simply click the “View a sample source code” link, and focus on the part marked with the rectangle:
Copy your account ID and the test ID and paste it into Notepad.
- Your account ID is the first one, starting with “UA.”
- The test ID is the number beneath the account ID.
Of course, the IDs on the image above are just example ones, yours will be slightly different.
Now go back to WordPress and edit your pages/posts #1, #2, and #3.
The GWO4WP plugin adds a new block to the page/post editing screen. It looks something like this:
For each of your pages set the following things:
- Page/post #1. Enable GWO, Is AB Experiment, Is original page. Input the IDs into the Test id and GWO Account id fields. Finally, select the This is a testpage radio button, and save changes.
- Page/post #2. Enable GWO, Is AB Experiment. Use the same IDs. Select the This is a testpage radio button, and save changes.
- Page/post #3. Enable GWO, Is AB Experiment. Use the same IDs again. Select the This is a goalpage radio button, and save changes.
At this point you are almost all set to start your experiment. Go back to GWO, and press the “Validate pages” button at the bottom of the page.
If all goes well you should be presented with the following notification:
Now there’s only a preview page of your experiment, and you finally get to press the “Start Experiment >>” button.
Your experiment data should start coming in after two or three hours.
Once you get a hang of this method of A/B split testing you can start using different approaches. For example, ones we were talking about in the previous post.
What’s your opinion, do you find split testing difficult for WordPress blogs? What plugins are you using to make split testing easier?