A/B Testing: Copywriting Strategies for Performance Optimization

By Cam Velasco

CEO & Co-Founder
Published: Mar 19, 2024
A/B testing, also known as split testing, compares two versions of content to determine which performs better, guiding data-driven decisions for copywriters. By analyzing results and leveraging insights, copywriters refine messaging, optimizing performance and ensuring relevance to audience preferences.
Two hands holding up wooden puzzle pieces with the letters 'A' in red and 'B' in blue, symbolizing A/B testing.

A/B testing, or split testing, is a crucial method for optimizing your copywriting to enhance performance. It involves comparing two versions of your content to see which one performs better in achieving your desired outcomes, such as higher conversion rates or increased engagement. 

Understanding A/B Testing is not just about choosing the better of two options but about continuously learning and improving your content strategy based on empirical evidence. It’s a powerful tool for making data-driven decisions, reducing risks, and driving forward momentum in your campaigns.

What is A/B Testing?

A/B testing, or split testing, is like a contest between two versions of something to see which one does better. For copywriters, this often means trying out two different ways of writing an ad, a page on a website, or an email to see which one gets more people to do something, like buy a product or sign up for a newsletter.

You have a ‘version A’ (the original) and a ‘version B’ (the new version). The only thing different between them is one specific thing you’re testing, like the headline or a picture. By showing ‘version A’ to some people and ‘version B’ to others, you can see which one works better.

A/B testing is a way for copywriters to see which words or phrases connect best with their audience.

Relevance for Copywriters

A/B testing is super important for copywriters because even tiny changes in the words we use can make a big difference in how people react. Testing helps copywriters figure out which words or phrases work the best.

Without A/B testing, copywriters are just guessing. But with it, they can make choices based on what works. This leads to better ads and a way to keep making them even better over time.

Setting Up Your A/B Test

A person's hand pointing to a line graph on a paper sheet with bar charts above, representing business metrics such as receipts, sales, and orders, placed on a wooden surface.

Defining Your Goals and Metrics

When you start an A/B test about the words you use, the first thing to do is figure out what you want to achieve and how you’ll know if you’re successful. This helps you focus and measure the impact of your test correctly.

You might want to:

  • Get more people to buy something
  • Increase the number of clicks
  • Get more people to open emails
  • Keep visitors on your page longer

After picking a goal, choose 2-3 key things to keep an eye on. For instance, if you’re aiming to get more sales, you’d track:

  • How many sales you get
  • The percentage of visitors who buy something
  • How much money people spend on average

Make sure your goals are clear, possible to achieve, relevant, and have a deadline. This makes your test easier to check out later.

Choosing Your Testing Platform

There are lots of tools out there for A/B testing. When picking one, think about being able to try a tool that makes testing easy. Look for ones that are simple to use.

Focus on words, some tools are better for testing words, like those that help you build landing pages easily. Working with tools like Google Optimize and Google Analytics go well together.

After choosing a tool, follow its steps to set up your test. This usually involves making a control (the original), changing one thing, deciding who sees what, starting the test, and watching what happens.

Selecting Variables to Test

When testing words, these parts often give you good info:

Headlines: Try different headlines to see which ones people like more. You can play with the length, ask questions, use specifics, and more.

Calls-to-action (CTAs): See what kinds of words, lengths, and spots on the page make people more likely to click.

Email subject lines: These are super important for getting people to open emails. Test how urgent they sound, if they’re personal, specific, and who they’re from.

Page copy: Test different ways of writing your main text to see what style or argument works best.

Offers: Try out different deals or freebies to see what makes people more interested.

Start with changing just one thing at a time. This way, you know exactly what made the difference. Keep trying new things based on what works, and over time, you’ll see better results.

Executing Your A/B Copywriting Test

Creating Effective Variants

When you’re making different versions for your A/B test, change just one thing between the original and the new version. This way, you can tell what change made a difference.

You could change the title, the button that asks people to do something, the picture, or the main text. These changes can affect results. Make sure both the original and the new version are well-written and interesting. You want both to be good options.

Implementing and Launching Your Test

Set up your testing tool so half of the people see the original and half see the new version. Make sure everything loads and works right before you start. Fix any problems.

First, send just a few people to test if everything’s working. If there are no problems, let everyone in your target group take the test.

Keep an eye on the data to spot any trends.

Testing Duration and Sample Size

You’ll usually need at least 2 weeks to get reliable results. If your page gets a lot of visitors, 1 week might be enough.

For pages with fewer visitors, consider running the test for more than 4 weeks. Use a tool like a sample size calculator to figure out how many people you need for your test.

Making sure your test runs long enough helps make sure your findings are solid.

Analyzing Results and Applying Insights

A tablet displaying a stock market chart with a green upward trend line and blue and red bars, a stylus beside it, a blurred smartphone and a jar of colorful candies in the background on a desk.

Interpreting Test Data

After your A/B test, start by seeing which version did better based on what you were hoping to achieve, like more sales or clicks. Look at how many people clicked through, how many left quickly (bounce rates), how long they stayed on the page, and how far they scrolled down.

Seeing big differences in these areas can tell you a lot about what people liked, even if both versions got a similar number of sales or sign-ups.

It’s also important to make sure the differences you see aren’t just by chance. You can use a tool to check if your results are reliable and not just random.

Deriving Actionable Insights

Now, think about why one version worked better. Consider:

  • What made the winning version more appealing?
  • What feelings did it bring out in people?
  • How did it help guide people?

Try to connect the dots between what the data shows and why people might have preferred one version over the other.

Also, think about why the other version didn’t do as well. Every test teaches you something, whether you got the result you wanted or not.

Leveraging Learnings Going Forward

First, start using the better-performing version everywhere it’s relevant. But don’t stop there.

Use what you’ve learned for future projects:

  • Apply the good messaging in new campaigns
  • Let these insights guide your content on different platforms
  • Use them when creating new things, like images or videos

Keep looking back at what worked and keep testing. What people like can change, so it’s important to keep updating and trying new things.

Copywriting Optimization Strategies

Psychological Triggers

When you write to sell something, using what we know about how people think and feel can make a big difference. Here are some simple ways to do that, based on what we’ve learned from testing.

Reciprocity: If giving something away for free or offering a discount for a short time helped get more people interested, use that in your writing. You could say something like “Get 10% off your first order when you join us today”.

Social proof: If showing comments from happy customers or their ratings made more people buy, then show off that feedback even more. You could include quotes from customers, show how many stars your product has, or list big brands you’ve worked with.

FOMO: If pointing out that there’s only a little bit of something left or that a sale is ending soon made more sales, use that fear of missing out more often. Say things like “Only 5 left!” or “Sale ends in 24 hours”.

Think about what got people excited or interested during your tests. Use those ideas to help guide how you talk to your customers.

Refining Your Messaging

The tests you run can show you the best way to talk to your audience. Here’s how to use what you learned.

Relevance: If certain words or phrases did well, make sure you use those a lot. Your message should meet what your customers want or need.

Clarity: If a simpler message got more people interested than a complicated one, keep your words easy to understand. Use plain language.

Impact: If messages that were straight to the point, talked about benefits clearly, or made big promises did better, make your messages stronger. Show the value clearly, talk about what makes your offer special.

Use what you’ve learned from testing to make your messages better and more focused on your customers. Keep improving your messages to get the best results.

Continuous Testing and Improvement

The Importance of Ongoing Optimization

Think of A/B testing not as a one-time thing but as a regular part of making your messages better. What works today might not work tomorrow because what people like changes. Regularly checking and updating your messages is key to keeping things fresh and effective.

Research shows that companies that keep testing and tweaking their messages tend to do better over time. If you test once and stop, you might miss out on keeping those good results going.

By testing often, you can adapt to changes. Make sure your messages stay interesting and relevant for unlocking long-term value: Your messages will work better and better over time.

An Iterative Process

After each test, look at what you learned and use that to make your next test even better. This way, you’re always building on what works and getting closer to the best message possible. 

Over time, this can help with more than just getting clicks or sales right now. It can improve customer happiness and how much value they get from you in the long run.

Testing one thing at a time gives you only part of the picture. But when you look at everything together, you see how all those little changes can lead to big improvements.

Implementation Framework

To keep getting better, testing needs to be a normal part of how you work. Here’s how to make that happen:

Centralized Tracking: Keep all your test data in one place so everyone can see how things are going. Make it easy for people to check on their own.

Automation: Use tools to make testing and reporting easier. This lets you do more tests and learn faster.

Collaboration: Work together across different teams to share what you learn from tests. This helps everyone get better.

Governance: Have clear rules for how testing should work. Make sure tests are helping reach your goals and not getting too complicated. Offer help and learning resources for people doing tests.

With the right setup, testing becomes a smooth process that helps the whole company keep improving.

Each test is just the start. What you learn sets you up for the next round of making things better. Over time, all those small changes can lead to big wins.

Conclusion

A/B testing stands as a cornerstone in optimizing copywriting performance, allowing for informed decisions based on empirical evidence. 

By understanding the basics of A/B testing, copywriters can continuously refine their content strategies, leveraging psychological triggers and refining messaging to better resonate with their audience. 

Emphasizing ongoing optimization through regular testing ensures adaptability to evolving preferences, unlocking long-term value and fostering continuous improvement across all facets of copywriting endeavors.

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Cam Velasco

CEO & Co-Founder

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