Six Ways for Getting Started with A/B Testing with Low Traffic

A/B testing is a key tool when it comes to optimizing your conversion rates. However, an effective A/B test campaign requires certain conditions and, in particular, a substantial level of traffic and conversions. Should you rule out A/B testing if your traffic is too low? The answer is no, you’ll be glad to hear! There are methods which can be implemented to make the most of an A/B test campaign, even when traffic is low. The main obstacle to setting up A/B tests with low traffic lies in statistical significance. If the test results are to be considered reliable, the reliability index needs to be over 95%. Below 95%, the data are not deemed reliable and drawing conclusions can be risky. In simple terms, the lower the traffic, the more time it takes to reach that level. The following techniques will help you reduce that time.

#1: be patient!

First of all, if your traffic does not exceed a few hundred visits per month, you are no doubt better off waiting. Focus on building an audience by applying the conventional traffic acquisition levers (production of interesting and potentially viral content, building your presence on the social networks, etc.). At this stage, take the opportunity to collect qualitative information on your visitors’ behaviour (their impressions, their feedback, etc.). As your traffic is low, this feedback can be analysed manually and can provide valuable avenues to be explored once you have acquired more traffic.

#2: get more traffic temporarily

If your traffic is low, tackle the problem at the source! Temporarily increasing traffic to the pages you want to test is a good way of obtaining reliable statistics more rapidly. The simplest way to do this is via a pay-per-performance advertising model (pay per click): sponsored Google AdWords links, Facebook Ads, sponsored news on LinkedIn, etc. This means investing financially, but it rapidly brings traffic. If you have a large community, set up an emailing campaign to draw traffic to the page you want to test. You should of course make sure you redirect your campaigns to a landing page that is close to the final conversion stage, rather than to your website’s home page.

#3: test the pages with the most traffic

Make the most of the traffic you already have by focusing efforts on the pages where you get the most traffic. By doing this, you will increase your chances of getting significant results faster. When you have more traffic across the whole website, you will then be able to test the other pages.

#4: limit the number of variations

The more variations you compare, the less each one of them will get traffic and the more time it will take to get a sufficient sample for each variation. Don’t create more than two variations in addition to the original version. Depending on your traffic, you may need to limit yourself to a single variation. If this out-performs, start a second test to compare its performance with the variation you had set aside. Also forget about multivariate tests (MVT) which are only designed for websites with very high traffic levels.

#5: change the conversion measurement criteria

The aim of an A/B test is usually to increase the number of conversions. But how do you define conversion? As a sale? In a test where traffic is low, it is preferable to select a criterion related to your main criterion but which occurs more often. Rather than a sale, target the downloading of a test version or the viewing of a demonstration video, for example. These conversion criteria are always directly linked to your main criterion (here, the sale), but are likely to occur more often and will therefore bring you results faster. You can also target interaction with your website, for example by recording a conversion when a visitor spends a certain amount of time on your website or visits a certain number of pages.

#6: test significant changes rather than small modifications

We often think that A/B testing is used to define the best color for a call-to-action or to optimise a title. This is just one facet of A/B testing but this kind of micro-optimization can only be applied where traffic is substantial. Where traffic is low, look at the bigger picture! Test changes likely to lead to a high increase in conversions, not the details seeking a 0.1% increase. Change the position of elements, rewrite entire titles and test two completely different versions of your page. If you opt for this latter option, do not waste time modifying your page in the AB Tasty editor but instead opt for the split testing solution. The principle is simple: you create a completely different design for your page, you host it on your own server and you use it as a variation. Web visitors are redirected to this page in a fully transparent manner. AB Tasty takes care of the traffic breakdown and collects statistics for each version, according to the parameters you have indicated, just like a conventional test.

Conclusion

Just because your website has low traffic, it does not mean you should forget about A/B testing – on the contrary! Set your goals and set you up your first tests.

Anthony Brebion

Anthony is Product Marketing Manager @ABTasty. He was previously SEO consultant and worked several years in digital ad houses. He’s now an A/B testing and optimization evangelist.

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