Red CTA or Green CTA?
Product details in bullets or in a table?
Sticky header or no header?
The most successful mobile app owners keep asking questions like these to themselves. In other words, they are the ones who keep refining their app based on user feedback and research.
They are well aware of the fact that if they embrace any new feature on their app, it is critical to test if their target audience responds favorably to them.
And the best way to do this is via A/B testing.
In this article, we will go through everything related to A/B testing, right from its definition to some of the best practices.
In the context of mobile apps, it refers to a randomized experimentation process where two or more versions of an app’s new feature or design are shown to different segments of the app’s users at the exact same time.
The purpose of A/B testing is to determine which version has the maximum desirable impact and drives business metrics. In essence, it eliminates all the guesswork related to optimizing mobile apps and empowers app developers and owners to make data-driven decisions.
Any A/B test begins with the formation of a hypothesis. For example -
“Red CTA Buttons will get more clicks than a Green CTA Button.”
Once the goal (clicks) and options(Green or Red CTA) are laid out, the tester randomly distributes a fixed number of app users between the two variations. The first variation is called the control, while the second one is called variation.
Users should ideally be unaware that they are part of a test group.
By the end of the test, the variant that has outperformed the other variant/variants will be considered the winner and rolled out to the general public.
There are many reasons app developers or owners should conduct A/B Tests. Some of the most important ones are -
To ensure you are providing the best user experience to your app’s users, it is critical to thoroughly test iterations of the app’s features.
A/B testing allows you to deploy deep segmentation, categorize users and target them differently. This segmentation can be based on location, behavior, demographics, or other factors.
It goes without saying that the more personalized the app experience is, the better it will be. With A/B testing, you can do more than ‘showing’ different variations of the app to different users. You can also tailor each variation based on the interests of your users and user behavior.
When applied right, A/B testing helps you learn about your users' behavior without having to exhaust a huge part of your budget.
Although the idea of testing two or more variants against each other sounds easy, it is far from reality. To get the desired output, a systematic process has to be followed. Here are the six steps to run A/B tests successfully -
Conduct sufficient research to determine the objective of the A/B Test. Whatever the test may be, it should, in the end, contribute to achieving a specific goal.
Based on research and the principles of application design, create variants you think will work best in achieving the goal.
Once the objective and variants are ready, the audience for the test has to be identified, and the test has to be taken live. Generally, it is recommended to split the number of visitors at the time of the test into equal parts (depending on the number of variants). Also, make sure there are enough visitors to perform the test - the more, the merrier.
While determining the winner of the A/B test, there are a number of factors like time on page, interaction with elements, etc., that have to be considered. But ultimately, it all comes down to which variant engaged the users better (Ex - the green button had more clicks than the red button).
If there is a definite winner of the A/B Test, you can proceed to make changes to the live version of the app.
A feature that might be working perfectly right now may not work the same way in the future. Or there could be a new feature that is much better. Optimizing apps is a never-ending process. Keep running A/B tests to determine how you can improve your app’s performance.
The following are some best practices you need to follow to make sure your A/B tests are being done right.
As you will essentially be testing human behavior, always be ready for surprises. Keep an open mind and follow up on your learnings.
Always stick to tests long enough till you are confident about the results. Coming to conclusions early on is not recommended.
Making any kind of changes to variants will render the A/B test pointless. You will not have enough confidence in the test to make the right decision.
Results of an A/B test will be subject to the time period in which the test was conducted. It is recommended to test variants across seasons. For example, a creative that did not do well in summer may work well in winter.
If an app developer is looking for long-term success, A/B testing will have to be part of their arsenal. It is the most sure-shot way to understand what works and what does not. As a wise man once said, testing leads to failures, and failures lead to understanding.