I love split testing. I write about it a lot as a way to increase the effectiveness of your landing pages, your email subject lines, your text and button configurations, the size of your forms, and anything else you can change on a page.
While you could do a split test on your own, an easier, faster, and more reliable way to split-test is with an A/B testing tool. This comparison covers two of the most-used testing tools, Unbounce vs. Optimizely.
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A Word on Split Testing
Split testing, also known as A/B testing, happens when you display two similar versions of a landing page (or form, or email, or product page, or another marketing text tool) to test which one increases engagement.
Good Split Tests Are
- Scientific: The test comes from a hypothesis or theory about how your customers react to your site. It uses real data. It informs actual decisions your team makes about design and implementation.
- Statistically significant: Run the test on enough users that you can see a statistically significant difference between the two examples. This post has a great example of how a 10-day difference shows dramatically different results, because of the sample size.
- Analytical: Collect enough data to analyze what works and what doesn’t. If your site doesn’t get much traffic or scores few conversions, your counts will be off. You should also keep in mind external factors like day of the week, holidays, or seasonal changes that could change your traffic makeup.
- Reproducible: If you saw the needle move once with a set of customers, it should move again in a similar fashion with another set of customers.
- Iterative: Once your team sees a significant change in customer engagement, you can restart your test with a new change.
Bad Split Tests Are
- Asynchronous: Changing a page on your site and comparing traffic now to traffic from the old design. So many things go into your traffic counts that you need to keep time period as a constant.
- Parallel: Don’t test more than one element at a time on a single page (but feel free to test multiple pages at a time, as you can track behavior on each of those pages). Test small so you know exactly what makes a difference. If you change the shape, color, and text on a button, it’s much harder to tell which of these made a difference so you can populate that change to the rest of your pages. Keep it simple.
When comparing Unbounce vs. Optimizely, the devil is in the details (just like testing). Both of these products host landing pages where you can test your text, button variations, and designs (to a point). You’ll find visual editors and detailed reporting, along with integrations. Both Unbounce and Optimizely rank highly in customer satisfaction and ease of use, so pay attention to these feature differences before you choose.
Unbounce provides well-designed templates for all users to access at any account level. Templates help design-impaired folks build and update pages without starting from scratch and wasting a lot of time.
Optimizely does not have templates, but still provides a visual editor, so you can move your designs around. You’ll probably want to know some HTML to truly customize different elements. You might also need design and dev and marketing teams to work closely throughout the project, rather than just handing off what works.
Forms and Popups
Because they’re a major factor in many companies’ split tests, both software choices include the ability to add and update forms on your pages. You can also implement lead nurture popups in the form of light boxes or slide-out features.
Unbounce promotes their Convertables tools prominently on their marketing site, and they’re pretty cool. Convertables show customers popup forms according to clicks, times, and movement on the page. You can design these to show based on traffic types, geolocation, and past behavior. Yes, these are the annoying light boxes that show up when you try to scroll for more content, but they work!
Optimizely also can target your users based on behavior and geography, and you can build reusable segments within your tool. While Optimizely focuses mainly on testing landing pages in multiple or single instances, they also have options to add forms and popups to those pages to increase conversions.
You will need a little technical knowledge and access to implement both of these options, but that level of expertise isn’t very different between Unbounce vs. Optimizely.
Optimizely requires access to the page code so the experiments can run on your site. You will need to add the code to every page on the site, but once you’ve installed it, you won’t have have to ever do it again.
Unbounce requires that you update the CNAME record on your site’s server to implement pages. If you don’t have a lot of technical knowledge (or access to your DNS records, you’ll need to find someone at the company who does. Unbounce landing pages show up on a subdomain of your URL. Use WordPress? Use the Unbounce plug-in to automatically add pages to your site, rather than trying to access the CNAME.
Unbounce includes user permissions and multiple campaigns, meaning you can test sites for multiple clients under the same single-account sign on. They also cater specifically to agencies and have a customer support team that boasts agency experience.
Optimizely organizes things a bit differently, with each website as its own account, although they do allow users to log into multiple accounts, which works great for agencies running multiple campaigns. The quote-based pricing structure is helpful in the case of an agency, because you can tailor the size and capabilities of your plan to your client’s needs.
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As with most split testing tools, there are some limitations with Unbounce and Optimizely. Neither of these options will just give you the code to export to your site, which is frustrating because you’re still going to need your dev team to build that page for you. But if your teams work closely on designing pages and pop-ups that look good and you can recreate the process, these tools will fund themselves with increased engagement and conversions.