The eagle-eyed among you may have noticed that we’ve got a new addition to the team. Please welcome our new mascot, Monique:
As the old site design clashed with her beautiful colouring, we threw it all away and gave the site a bit of a polish. Please excuse any empty paint cans around the place.
Monique is a Balinese myna bird, a critically endangered species. Though exact population numbers are unknown, efforts are being made to protect and strengthen the wild population, which has been severely diminished by poachers.
One of the most popular questions for new A/B testers is “What should I test?“. There are many blog posts on the Internet that describe testing strategies, effective tests for landing pages, the psychology of testing, and so on. Rather than describe about the usual candidates (hero image, feature list, call to action – you can test them all), I thought I’d provide a fresh perspective on some creative tests that you may not have considered.
1. Signup process
How simple should your landing/signup pages be? If you take away distractions, and give a clean, simple interface that focuses the user, will you see an increase in signups? If you take away too much relevant information, will it turn users off to your site and make them less likely to complete the signup process?
How simple should your signup process be? If you remove distractions and provide a clean, simple interface that focuses visitors’ attention, will you see an increase in signups? Take away too much, or force visitors to sign up before they know what you do or why you need their information and you may scare them away.
2. Information capture
You can test anything along your pipeline from customer acquisition to post-purchase follow-up. Most people like to start with the front-end of the pipeline: SEO to make their web site more visible, and web site optimization to make their landing pages more effective.
Collecting information from potential customers is a tricky business. Collect too little and you’re missing out on potentially useful insights. Ask for too much and you risk putting people off filling in your form. In addition to testing the visual aspects of form design (label positioning, immediate feedback on potential errors, and so on), one of the most useful things you can do is test the amount and format of data you’re trying to capture. After all, all the data in the world is no use to you if it never leaves your customers’ heads!
3. Email content
Communication with your customers is critically important, and it’s not just your website that matters. Emails form a vital part of many businesses’ communication strategy. Take your business’s voice as an example. Do your users prefer more personable, friendly style? Or do they want reassurance that they’re dealing with professionals? Test the style, language and layout of your email content, and measure the response rate or traffic generated over a number campaigns.
4. Features and pricing
Features and pricing are the two main things that affect your value proposition to customers. Fortunately, you can test both of these to see where your value sweet spot lies.
One great way of testing pricing is to test discounts. For example, you could offer one group of customers three months of free use of your product, and another group 25% off for a year. These offers are financially equivalent but offer different value in the short term.
The charitable promotions web site Humble Bundle operate another great example of price testing. They use A/B testing to prompt customers with different suggested donations, to determine the best times to add values to their deals.
Instead to testing pricing, you might consider testing features of your online product. What would happen if you gave users twice the space to upload photos? Would it lead to a financially beneficial increase in sign-ups? Why not run an A/B test to find out?
5. Checkout flow
Many of the tests we explored above for signup processes can also be applied to checkout flow. How much should you focus customers’ attention on completing checkout and paying for the product? What order should you collect payment and delivery information? Is there a good opportunity for additional information capture here?
You can be a lot more flexible in tests by realising that, with the right testing tools, conversion goals don’t need to be “yes/no” affairs. Some tools let you assign secondary goals or, even better, numerical goals that let you stipulate how good the outcome is. For example, in a checkout flow you might instruct your testing tool to put more weight on a conversion if the user has more items in their basket, returns to a basket after saving it, chooses a faster delivery option, and so on.
Hopefully these five crazy off-the-wall examples will inspire you to use A/B testing to improve your product or site in new and unconventional ways. We’ve seen all of these and more at Myna, and we’re constantly being surprised by the resourcefulness and creativity of our users. This isn’t to say that we don’t advocate conventional testing of strap lines, hero images, and button colours – these tests are and always will be perfectly valid. No matter how much you’ve tested your landing pages, though, it’s important to realise that there are always new optimizations to make. Who knows – your next test may just bust you out of a local maximum and take you to a whole new level of success.
What does a small bird, native to South-East Asia, have to do with A/B testing?
The answer? It’s all in the algorithms.
Some of the the sub-species of the myna (or mynah) are considered talking birds, i.e., birds that can mimic human speech.
As a myna (the bird) mimics human words, and is rewarded by positive reinforcement from its owner (or delicious, delicious seeds), it learns which are the most desirable words or phrases and knows to repeat them more in future.
In much the same way, as Myna (the revolutionary new A/B testing solution) repeats your variants, and is rewarded by successful conversions, it learns which is the most successful variant and knows to repeat that more in future.
As the page views roll in on a new test, we like to picture an excitable bird, squawking away and gobbling down treats, learning not to swear in front of polite company.
Even in our short lifetime, we’ve seen multiple spellings of the word: from minah to miyna, mynor to mhyna (what can I say, sometimes I just type too fast). While both myna and mynah are considered valid spellings for the bird, the A/B testing is spelled only Myna.
We’re pleased to announce that we’re finally coming out of beta, which means the introduction of our least-requested new feature: pricing plans. These will come into effect on 15th December.
We’ve got plans for all sizes of business and website, including a permanently free plan for low-volume users or sample tests. Sign up now and start A/B testing for free – you can upgrade whenever you’re ready.
All our existing beta users (and any new sign-ups) will have the opportunity to choose a plan before December 15th. On that date, everyone else will be transferred onto the free plan. Don’t worry! All existing tests and data will remain intact.
We’ll make further announcements on billing closer to the time, but for now, all the details are available on the Myna pricing page.