One of the major challenges to overcome in terms of content marketing involves figuring out how to get the right message in front of the right people at exactly the right time. Often, you know two of those three variables – you know who you’re speaking to (and what they want to hear), and you know what stage of the buyer’s journey they’re currently on.

At that point, you might think that the “message” will take care of itself… but usually that’s a lot easier said than done. Typically, people have to narrow their message down and get as specific as possible and then hope they’ve made the right choice.

But with A/B testing, you don’t have to “hope” any longer. You’ll have all of the actionable, insightful data you need to make the right choice every time, no exceptions.

In truth, A/B testing matters more for your content marketing than you might think in a host of different ways that are absolutely worth exploring.

What is A/B Testing?

Also commonly referred to as split testing or bucket testing, the idea behind A/B testing is simple: you’re literally creating two different versions of the same thing, testing each one out to a similar-yet-different audience before deciding which one to roll out on a mass scale.

To get an example of this in action, think about how important thumbnails are to your video monetization efforts on a service like Uscreen. Oftentimes a thumbnail alone will be the deciding factor for someone choosing whether or not to click on your video. Naturally, you sit down with a thumbnail maker like Visme (which I founded) to come up with the best one that you can.

The only problem is, you came up with two.

So which one do you pick? In this example, both. You choose both similar-yet-different thumbnails and allow both of them to go live at once. You targeted them to two small, nearly identical audiences and sit back and wait to see how people respond. If one is a clear victor, that’s the one you choose to roll out to everyone once your video actually goes live.

In other words, it’s an opportunity to let the data do the talking. You don’t have to guess as to which variant will perform better – you’ll know, beyond the shadow of a doubt. That alone will do wonders to your return on investment over time.

The Power of A/B Testing

A/B testing doesn’t just work – it works incredibly well, as a wide range of different statistics go a long way towards proving. According to one recent study:

  • Nearly every year, A/B testing is the most used method by businesses of all types for the specific goal of improving their conversion rates.
  • Over 50% of all companies and ad agencies who use A/B testing on their landing pages say that they unlock new opportunities to improve those conversion rates.
  • Google ran more than 7000 different A/B tests during 2011 alone. If it’s good enough for one of the most successful companies in all of human history, it’s good enough for you, too.
  • Nearly 75% of all Internet retail companies in the top 500 listing use an A/B testing platform on a regular basis.

Not only does A/B testing allow you an opportunity to “see” which decision is the right one between two options before you actually make it, but it’s also a perfect chance to get even more specific in your content marketing. It can give you a chance to experiment with the level of personalization you employ to really make that organic connection with your audience.

A/B testing isn’t just for landing pages or website designs, either. You can sit down with a scatter plot maker and plug the same data into the same graph, for example, with two different designs. You can then see which of those designs resonates more with your audience and which one is able to push you farther down the line towards your goals. The content is the same for all intents and purposes, but the delivery mechanism varies wildly.

In the end, A/B testing is about freeing yourself from the burden of making decisions based on gut instinct or other subjective measures. With the right A/B efforts, you can collect all of the actionable data you need to always make the most informed (read: correct) decision that you can.

Once you have that insight, all you have to do is act on it. Luckily, that’s where the creative part of your brain can take hold once again.

About the Author

Payman Taei is the founder of Visme, an easy-to-use online tool to create engaging presentations, infographics, and other forms of visual content. He is also the founder of HindSite Interactive, an award-winning Maryland digital agency specializing in website design, user experience, and web app development.