Content marketing is arguably the most effective marketing tool today, used by a staggering 88% of B2B marketers around the world.
However, not every content marketing tactic is 100% fail-proof or offers the desired return on investment.
In fact, only six percent of content marketing is “very effective”.
This proves that, much like any marketing strategy, a content marketing is only as effective as the strategy behind it. There’s only way to improve the results of your content marketing – A/B testing.
What is an A/B Testing?
Here’s a technical definition of A/B testing.
A/B Testing is a form of statistical hypothesis testing using randomized experimentation with two variables (A and B) in business intelligence to identify the optimal set of variables to maximize performance.
In simple terms, A/B testing is an essential process to evaluate the individual performance of two different pieces of content in order to see which if either A or B gets more traction than the other. Some examples that you can test include article titles, images, and CTAs.
Why Split Testing is Imperative for Content Marketing
With the explosion of online media, there’s an insane volume of data being shared for the online consumer, making it hard for just about every marketer to get their coveted attention.
According to Domo, mobile connections in the United States alone generate more than 18 million megabytes of data every minute.
As your target consumer is overwhelmed with marketing messages from various sources, you must put the best foot forward to ensure that your content gets the attention it deserves.
Split testing helps you find out the types of content that better resonate with your target audience.
It helps you build better content and generate more traction with your content marketing.
How to Conduct A/B Testing in Content Marketing
You don't have to spend a fortune to perform split tests in content marketing. With the help of some nifty A/B testing tools, you can determine the most appropriate time and title of your post in order to create more impact.
When it comes to running a split test in your content marketing assets, here are a few elements for you to test...
Split Testing Headlines
It goes without saying headlines play a crucial role in content marketing. A magnetic headline can pull your audience in, while a bad one can repel them.
But without testing, you couldn’t say which way a headline will go.
Whether it’s a landing or service page or blog post, it makes a lot of sense to test two different versions of your headline to see which one is more effective.
For example, Buffer runs a split test for each of their blog posts by tweeting them and then waiting for results. The one that gets the maximum love on Twitter becomes the final headline that they will use.
A/B Testing Tools for Headlines
There are many tools for testing multiple headlines for your blog post. But, the following tools are particularly useful.
Title Generator by Tweak Your Biz: Just enter your desired headline in this tool and it spits out hundreds of suggestions. Choose a couple of attractive headlines, and then try the Buffer route to see which ones works the best.
Headline Analyzer by CoSchedule: This tool analyzes your headline and predicts whether a given headline will work for your audience.
Title Experiments Free WordPress Plugin: If your website is running on WordPress, this is a great plugin to run a split test on your headline.
Finally, if you’re looking for ideas to write better headlines before getting them ready for A/B testing, check out these 49 irresistible headline formulas by Sumome.
Split Testing Images
As the conventional wisdom goes, “a picture is worth a thousand word”. This applies to content marketing as well. However, using irrelevant images can only distract your visitors and go against your content marketing strategy.
According to HubSpot, content with relevant images gets 94% more views than content without them. However, Neil Patel has found that using too many images could also distract your readers rather than keeping them engaged.
Unlike testing headlines, testing images won't require the same types of tools; however, you can split test images in the following ways:
- Use images you’ve taken yourself vs. images found online
- Photos vs. illustrations
- Diagrams vs. pictures
- Images with people vs. images without
Neil Patel advises against using stock photos because stock photos look unreal and usually don’t help your conversion.
Split Testing Opt-in Form
Opt-in forms or sign-up forms are a great way to build your subscription list and boost traffic to your website. However, a signup form doesn’t increase your subscriptions on its own. In fact, merely having an opt-in form on your website may not add any value at all. Hence, split testing opt-in forms is imperative. Try the following when you run a split test on your sign-up form:
- Above the fold vs. after the fold content
- Include social proof inside opt-in form vs. opt-in form without no proof
- Use a plain sign-up form vs. a fully customized version to make it stand out from other aspects on the page
Run these tests in combinations and see which one gets you the most sign-ups. If you want to dive deeper into split testing your opt-in form, read this post.
Split Testing Call-to-Action
A Call-to-Action is the most critical component of your post. No matter how great your content is, it cannot convert well unless supported by a great call to action.
A call to action could vary from one marketer to another depending on their marketing goals. While some marketers aim to boost their sign-ups, others want to their visitors to download software. Regardless of the goal, getting people to take action can be hard unless your CTA is attractive enough.
If you want to split test your CTA, try using:
- CTA buttons with attractive colors.
- Different benefit verbs (see these examples)
- CTAs at different parts of your page
Here’s a great post on improving your CTA for better conversion.
A/B testing is a continuous process that gets you better results and improves your marketing intuition. No matter how experienced you are, it’s always better to design your content based on statistics.
Have you ever run any A/B test for your content marketing? What results did you have before/after your tests? Please, let us know in the comments below.
About the Author
Susanta Sahoo is founder and chief content marketing strategist at Top League Technologies, a digital marketing start-up in Bhubaneswar, India. By offering SEO consulting services, he helps SMB’s build their online presence and boost ROI. Follow him on Twitter:@sushantsahoo