What NOT to test in A/B Testing for eCommerce

What NOT to test in A/B Testing for eCommerce

Boris Kwemo

04 Sep 23
Reading Time: 7 min

In the vast arena of eCommerce, A/B testing serves as a critical tool for conversion rate optimization (CRO). This powerful strategy allows online businesses to make data-driven decisions, improve customer engagement, and ultimately, increase revenue. However, the efficacy of A/B testing is significantly influenced by what you choose to test, and more importantly, what you choose not to test.

This blog post will serve as a comprehensive guide for Shopify brands seeking to optimize their product descriptions through efficient A/B testing. We, at ConvertMate, leverage our expertise in CRO for eCommerce and deep insights obtained from data analysis and AI to help you avoid common pitfalls and maximize your test outcomes. Read on to understand the nuances of A/B testing and learn how to sidestep easily avoidable errors.

Introduction to A/B Testing

Understanding A/B Testing

Understanding the concept of A/B testing is a crucial step for any ecommerce store owner or marketer seeking to increase their conversion rate. A/B testing, also known as split testing, is a method of comparing two versions of a webpage or other user experience to determine which one performs better. It involves making a change to an element of your website, then dividing your audience into two groups to see which version achieves the desired outcome more effectively.

This is a powerful tool for making data-driven decisions, allowing you to base changes on actual user experience rather than guesswork. However, it's essential to ensure you are testing the right elements to get meaningful results. Over-testing minor changes, like button color or font size, often leads to negligible results and wasted resources. Conversely, not testing significant changes could leave you in the dark about potential improvements or setbacks.

Remember, A/B testing isn't about making random alterations and hoping for the best. It requires formulating a hypothesis, executing the test accurately, and interpreting the results critically. Hence, make sure what you're testing will provide valuable insights and drive meaningful conversions. Avoid testing for the sake of testing and always keep your business goals in mind.

Importance of A/B Testing in eCommerce

A/B testing, also known as split testing, plays a crucial role in eCommerce businesses. It is an essential tool that helps you understand your audience's behaviour and preferences. This testing method involves comparing two versions of a web page - version A and version B - to see which one performs better. You show these versions to similar visitors at the same time, and the one that gives a better conversion rate wins.

But why is A/B testing so important in eCommerce? The simple answer is: it helps to boost your conversion rates. By running these tests, you can make more informed decisions about changes to your website based on data, not assumptions. This increases the chances of your desired outcome, like users clicking on a specific button, filling a form, or making a purchase, thereby driving more revenue for your business.

However, while A/B testing is an essential tool for improving your store, it is crucial to understand what not to test. Failing to do so can lead to misinterpretation of results and wasted resources. For example, testing insignificant elements that don't affect your conversion rate can lead to incorrect conclusions and misguided business decisions. Therefore, it's essential to identify and focus on key areas that can genuinely impact your store's performance.

Misconceptions about A/B Testing

Believing All Changes are Equally Significant

One common misconception in the world of A/B testing for eCommerce is the notion that all changes are equally significant. This belief can lead to wasted time and resources on testing minor changes that may not significantly impact conversion rates. It's important to understand that not all changes will have the same impact on your results. For example, altering the color of a button might not have the same effect as changing the positioning of a key call-to-action.

Quality over quantity should be the guiding principle when deciding what to test in A/B testing for an eCommerce website. Prioritize changes that could potentially bring about significant variations in user behavior. This could be anything from the structure of your checkout process to the language used in your product descriptions. Remember, the goal of A/B testing is not just to make changes, but to make changes that drive better results.

Another key point to keep in mind is that the significance of a change can vary greatly depending on your target audience. A change that might be insignificant to one demographic could be very impactful to another. Therefore, understanding your users and their behaviors is crucial when selecting what changes to test. In conclusion, not all changes are created equal. It's important to focus your A/B testing on changes that will likely have the most impact, and to understand your audience to better predict what those changes might be.

Expecting Instant Results

One common misconception about A/B Testing is the idea of expecting instant results. Many eCommerce store owners or marketers believe that the minute they implement an A/B test, they will immediately see a significant uptick in their conversion rates. However, this is far from the truth. Realistically, A/B testing is a process that requires time and patience to truly understand the impact of the changes made. It's not a magic switch that instantly boosts your conversions overnight.

While it's understandable that eCommerce store owners and marketers are eager to see the fruits of their labor, it's important to remember that A/B testing is more of a marathon than a sprint. It involves carefully analyzing the results, understanding the behavior of your customers, and making necessary adjustments based on the findings. The process is iterative and continuous, and expecting instantaneous results can lead to hasty decisions and ineffective strategies.

Therefore, it's advisable to avoid testing elements of your eCommerce site with the sole expectation of immediate results. Instead, focus on understanding your customers' needs and behaviors, and use A/B testing to incrementally improve your site's performance over time. It may take a bit longer, but the insights you'll gain will be much more valuable in the long run.

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What NOT to Test in A/B Testing

Ignoring the Importance of Statistical Significance

One of the major pitfalls in A/B testing that ecommerce store owners and marketers often fall into is ignoring the importance of statistical significance. This is a critical aspect in determining the validity of your A/B testing results. Without achieving statistical significance, any changes you see in conversion rates might simply be due to chance, and not because of the adjustment you've made in your A/B test.

Statistical significance is a mathematical tool that quantifies the likelihood that the results of your A/B test happened by chance. This is measured by a p-value; a lower p-value (usually less than 0.05) indicates a statistically significant result. Simply put, if your A/B test isn't achieving statistical significance, it's essentially like flipping a coin and basing your marketing decisions on whether it lands on heads or tails.

So, when it comes to A/B testing, always ensure that you've reached statistical significance before making any decisions. Ignoring this important concept can lead to inaccurate conclusions, leading to misinformed decisions that could adversely impact the performance of your ecommerce store. Remember, in the realm of A/B testing, not everything that glitters is gold — always back up your findings with solid statistical evidence.

Testing Too Many Variables at Once

One of the biggest mistakes ecommerce store owners and marketers can make when conducting A/B testing is trying to test too many variables at once. In A/B testing, the objective is to compare two versions of a webpage to see which one performs better. That is, which drives more conversions. However, if you test multiple variables at once, it can lead to inconclusive or confusing results. This is because you won't be able to accurately pinpoint which variable was responsible for the change in performance.

For example," if you change the color of a button, the text inside the button, and the placement of the button all at once, and then see an increase in conversions, it becomes difficult to determine which change led to the results. Was it the color, the text, or the placement? Or a combination of all three? Testing multiple variables at once makes it nearly impossible to glean actionable insights from your A/B testing.

Therefore, it's advisable to stick to testing one variable at a time to ensure the results are clear, accurate, and helpful for future modifications. By focusing on a single element - say, the color of the button - you can confidently attribute any change in conversion rates to that specific variable, making your A/B testing much more effective.

Common Mistakes in eCommerce A/B Testing

Expecting Every Test to Improve Conversions

One of the most common mistakes that ecommerce store owners and marketers make is expecting every test to improve conversions. While A/B testing is indeed a powerful tool for understanding your audience and optimizing your website, it is not an instant solution to boost your conversion rates. The purpose of A/B testing is to try different approaches and identify which one performs better. Some tests will yield positive results, while others may not impact your conversion rates, or could even lead to a decrease.

Expecting every test to improve conversions is a flawed approach. It's important to understand that A/B testing is a process of trial and error. You might have to conduct several tests to find what works best for your specific audience. So, even if a test doesn't lead to an improvement, it still provides valuable insights that can guide your future strategies.

Moreover, an A/B test can only be as good as the variations you are testing. If you’re only making small, insignificant changes, you can't expect significant improvements in conversions. Therefore, it's critical to focus on testing key elements of your website that have a direct impact on conversions, such as headlines, call to actions, product descriptions, and pricing structures, among others.

Failing to Account for External Factors

A common mistake in eCommerce A/B testing is failing to account for external factors. These are elements outside your website that can influence customer behavior, skew your results and lead to inaccurate conclusions. They include but are not limited to, seasonal changes, competitor activity, and wider market trends. For instance, a sudden increase in traffic and conversions during the holiday season may not be attributed to a change you've tested on your website, but rather to the seasonal shopping habit.

It's easy to be caught in the trap of attributing all changes to the variables you're testing. Yet, in reality, many external factors have a significant impact on your eCommerce performance. Ignoring these factors can result in wasted time and resources on efforts that aren't actually driving conversions. Besides, you might be misdirecting your future marketing strategies based on incorrect data.

Therefore, it's crucial to factor in these external influences when analyzing your A/B testing results. Always consider the wider context in which your eCommerce operates. By doing so, you will be able to make more informed decisions and create more effective tests in the future, leading to a higher conversion rate.


Learning from Mistakes

In conclusion, it's essential to understand that learning from mistakes plays a pivotal role in A/B testing for eCommerce. Too often, marketers and eCommerce store owners overlook the importance of this crucial aspect. Recognizing and learning from testing errors not only saves time and resources, but it also significantly increases your chances of creating a successful and converting customer journey.

Mistakes like testing too many variables at once, ignoring statistical significance, or neglecting mobile users can skew your results and lead you down the wrong path. The key to successful A/B testing is not just about what to test, but also what NOT to test. By learning from your mistakes and refining your testing process, you can avoid common pitfalls and significantly boost your conversion rate.

Remember, it's not about perfection, but improvement and learning. Every mistake is a lesson learned. So, don't be afraid to make mistakes in your A/B testing process. Instead, capitalize on them to build a robust and efficient testing strategy. The goal is to create a better experience for your customers, and sometimes that means learning what not to do to achieve that.

Implementing Effective A/B Testing Strategies

In conclusion, implementing effective A/B testing strategies is not about testing every single element of your eCommerce store, it's about focusing on those elements that have a direct impact on your conversion rate. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to A/B testing, what works for one eCommerce store may not necessarily work for another. Hence, it's essential to have a clear understanding of your audience and what they value.

One of the most significant mistakes that eCommerce store owners and marketers make is testing too many things at once. This approach makes it difficult to identify which change led to an increase or decrease in conversions. Stick to one change at a time and give your test the time it needs to yield statistically significant results. Rushing through the process or making too many changes at once can lead to incorrect conclusions and missed opportunities.

The goal is to apply a strategic and thoughtful approach to A/B testing. Don’t waste time on elements that won't substantially impact your conversion rate. Instead, focus on the critical aspects like product descriptions, call-to-action buttons, pricing strategies, and checkout process. By avoiding the common traps of A/B testing, you can ensure that every test you run is geared towards boosting your store's conversions and enhancing the overall user experience.

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