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Kapil Oliveti
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Sitecore: A/B and Multivariate Testing

Site testing and continuous optimization is a pivotal component of customer experience management. Sitecore offers a simple testing tool that allows you to easily run tests on pages, content and calls to action. You can go for A/B, Page and Multivariate testing.

An A/B Split Test is a simple test of one element tested against a variation. These elements can be range from the design of a site to a title, video, picture or text on a button. It is simple in concept and design, and is a powerful and widely used testing method. When you keep the number of tracked variables small, these tests do not need a large amount of traffic to run. This can help you get quicker results.

It is also a good way to introduce optimisation through testing to a skeptical team. Essentially, it can be used to quickly and measurably demonstrate the impact of a simple design change. Both A/B and multivariate testing is simple to set up straight from the page editor. You can also test each component individually, and there are no restrictions on the number of tests you can run at once.

What is A/B testing?

A/B testing is about testing changes to a web page against the current page elements, content or design with the goal of improving conversion rates. With A/B testing, you can perform website optimization without guess work, since all the decisions you make will be based on which ones produce positive results from collected data.

Significance of A/B testing

Here are a few reasons why A/B testing is important:

  • It allows you to make data-backed decisions on your website optimisation, and can lead to a transition in business conversations from ‘we think’ to ‘we know’. When you measure the impact that changes have on your metrics (such as registrations, downloads, purchases or other goals), you can ensure that every change produces positive results.
  • A/b testing also enables you to show visitors two different versions of the same page and let them decide a winner. When you constantly test and optimize your page, you can increase revenue, donations, leads, registrations, downloads and user generated content. This will also provide teams with valuable insight about visitors on their website.

How A/B testing works

An A/B test includes two versions of the same web page. First, there is an A version (the control) and B version (the variation) - these have live traffic and each version’s effect is measured to know the conversion rate. It is good practice to change only one element at a time, since you will then know with some certainty which variable produced the change in conversion.

You can also start an A/B test by identifying a goal for an organisation. Next, you can decide which pages on your website will help in successful completion of your goal. Thereafter, you can test the various elements on that page to check if you can improve the rate at which the goal or conversion is completed.

Let’s take for example a company that’s called Dynamic solutions. This organisation operates a web store that sells their product. Their ultimate goal is to increase the sales of their product and in turn, their annual revenue. Thus, the checkout funnel is the first place this company’s head of marketing must focus their optimization efforts on.

Generally, the ‘Buy’ button on each product page is what visitors look at before checking out. The team feels that making this button more prominent would result in more clicks and therefore, increased sales. The team simply makes the button red in variation 1 and leaves it grey in the original. Next, they quickly set up an A/B test that pits the two variations against each other. Once a fair amount of visitors run through this, the company is able to declare a winner.

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How is your content really performing?

Testing components within a page is another testing strategy in Sitecore. You can set various parameters for the test such as the number of visitors tested (as a percentage), the statistical confidence level to declare a winner (default is 95%), the objective of the test, whether to automatically select a winner, and the duration of the test. Using component tests is an easy and great way to see which content, calls to action, and designs perform better in terms of achieving marketing and business goals.

That’s not all - Sitecore provides a powerful tool called Path Analyzer to assess site performance. This tool allows a quick visual and quantitative analysis of pages and paths that are performing well and pages that are performing poorly. Path Analyzer enables digital marketers to examine and modify content and calls to action to improve conversion.

Goals power A/B testing in Sitecore

It doesn’t really matter if it’s choice A or B is selected more; it’s about which path results in a higher Engagement Value Score. Testing content through A/B testing is a great way for business and marketing verticals in companies to manage and optimize their own content without IT intervention. Sitecore also lets you test a new version of a page versus the previous version of the page, when you add a new version. Through this method, you can quickly know if your new version is helping the site or not. You can also test the page against a different page, if desired. This can be done through the Experience Optimization application in Sitecore.

A/B Testing: Tools and Types

You can run A/B tests for free or at a low cost; if you already own an enterprise platform, you can use its built-in testing capability.

There are a few standalone tools that range from free to affordable and typically requires the addition of HTML/Javascript on your existing webpage to display variations.

Here are a few popular examples:

Google Content Experiments – The Google Website Optimizer has been merged with Google Analytics and rebranded as Content Experiments, so you do need to be running GA to tap into its potential. With Content Experiments, you can test up to five full versions of a single webpage. This tool also lets you define what percentage of your visitors is included in the random sample for your experiment, with the results neatly included within your analytics reports and segments.

Optimizely – This tool lets you define variations and goals for your test, as well as define specific test targets. It also offers multivariate testing, as part of the more expensive pricing plans.

Tools that are part of larger platforms

These tools are embedded as part of enterprise-level analytics and content management systems. These tools typically come with enterprise pricing as well and vary between mature acquisitions and more recently developed add-ons.

A few examples:

Sitecore DMS – Sitecore has included A/B and multivariate testing as part of its Digital Marketing System module. Tests can be set up directly in a wizard within the content author interface without the need to update any code.

Adobe Test & Target – Sold as part of the Adobe Digital Marketing Cloud, Test & Target offers multiple  features, including AB testing, multivariate testing, ad testing, intelligent targeting to marketing segments. This tool requires a minimal amount of coding for configuration.

At Altudo (formerly eDynamic), we help our clients deliver exceptional customer experiences through 1:1 personalization & enhanced engagement, to grow revenue streams.We create and deliver personalized experiences to engage customers in a 1:1 manner at every touchpoint to improve customer experience and drive revenue.

As Sitecore Platinum implementation partners, we understand that the Sitecore ecosystem goes beyond the basics of CMS. Altudo delivers on all types of Sitecore implementations, crafting beautiful, user-focused websites that become the life of your brand.

Kapil Oliveti


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