A/B Testing With WordPress: Best Practices and Tools to Optimize Conversion
A website’s design plays an important role in user experience and a website’s conversion rate. All the page elements need to work together in the best possible way to deliver the desired goals, whether it’s to generate revenue or new subscribers.
When changing the website design to optimize conversion, it may be tricky to decide which changes will yield the best results. If you implement the wrong change, you risk lowering the conversion rate.
This is where A/B testing comes into play. You can test the new element alongside the current web design to see which one results in better conversion.
This article will explain how to conduct the tests on a WordPress website and provide a list of recommended tools.
What Is A/B Testing?
A/B testing, also called split testing, is a comparison test between two or more versions of the same page. It will divide the traffic into all versions to determine which page design delivers the better results using metrics like the number of page views, session time, or conversion rate.
When to Do A/B Testing?
A/B testing fosters data-driven decisions when planning changes on any website elements. By testing two versions of a web page in real-time, you’ll be able to identify what will work best.
Without this data, you will find yourself in a trial-and-error situation. It may also take longer to find the best solution for your web design.
Overall, A/B testing on a WordPress website is ideal for improving the following aspects of a website:
- Conversion rates – when the site already receives a lot of traffic, but you want to convert more site visitors into customers, use A/B testing to see which design version helps them convert.
- Bounce rates – changing the placement of elements like navigation buttons or banners may help prevent users from leaving the website.
- Users’ pain points – A/B testing will help you experiment with different solutions for the visitors’ pain points.
A/B Testing With WordPress in 5 Steps
WordPress users can run an A/B test for any website element. However, we recommend comparing only a single element on each test to eliminate other variables that may affect the test result. Here are some of the common elements you can include in an A/B test:
- Calls to action – changing the design of the call-to-action button may affect the conversion rate. Try using a different color, moving it to a new position, or adding a different text.
- Pricing – any information on the pricing table may affect the visitors’ decision to buy or try your product. Experiment with a different free trial period, pricing scheme, or highlight different information.
- Contact form – experiment with the number of fields, text, or even the color and typography of the form to generate more leads.
- Checkout steps – providing a single-step or multi-step checkout process can make a significant difference depending on the target customers and their characteristics. It’s worth testing out which one works best for your site.
Performing an A/B test for a WordPress website requires setting up some tools. In this step-by-step guide, we’ll use:
Google Analytics is a well-known tool to gather insights about website traffic. We’ll use that in conjunction with Google Optimize – previously known as Google Content Experiments – to compare the conversions of the different versions of the page.
Before moving on to the process, install and activate the plugins on your WordPress website. We’ll use them to connect the website with Google Analytics and insert Google Optimize’s code snippets.
1. Link the WordPress Site to Google Analytics
The first step is to connect WordPress and Google Analytics using the MonsterInsights plugin. We have a complete guide on adding Google Analytics to WordPress, but here’s a summary of how to do it:
- If you don’t have one, create a Google account and use it to sign up for Google Analytics.
- Install and activate the MonsterInsights plugin from the WordPress admin dashboard.
- Navigate to the plugin page by clicking Insights on the side panel. Use the setup wizard and follow the instructions to connect to Google Analytics.
2. Set Up Google Optimize and Link It to the WordPress Site and Google Analytics
The next process is to set up a Google Optimize account. Head to the Google Optimize website and log in using your Google account.
After that, follow these steps to link Google Optimize to Google Analytics and the WordPress site.
- Click Get started on the account home page.
- Tick the boxes that are relevant to your testing purposes and the terms of service. Click Done.
- Click the Settings button on the top-right corner of the page to open the container settings.
- The Container settings contain important information and instructions to set up Google Optimize. Link your Google Optimize account to Google Analytics by clicking Link to Analytics.
- Use the drop-down menu to select your account’s Google Analytics property and data streams, then click Save.
You’ll have to insert the Google Optimize code snippet into your WordPress site – copy the code from the Setup Instructions section.
Go to your WordPress dashboard and navigate to Settings -> Google Analytics. Click the Plugin Settings to open the section.
Paste the code snippet in the Custom Code field. Select include tracking code in the page head on the Tracking Code Location, and check the Custom Code Location check box. Click Save Changes once you’ve finished.
Go back to the Google Optimize container settings and click Install Extension to install the Google Chrome extension. This will allow you to use the visual editor to edit the test page and perform the installation diagnostics.
3. Create a Google Optimize Experience
Now that the tools are linked, it’s time to create an experience in Optimize. This is where you set up and run the test. Follow these steps to do so:
- Create a Google Optimize Experience by clicking on the Let’s Go button on the landing page.
- Enter the name of the experience and the URL of the page you want to test, and select A/B test as the test type.
- Click Create to finish the process and start configuring the A/B test.
4. Set Up the Page for A/B Testing
You need to take a few steps on the Google Optimize dashboard before running the test. The top panel in the Google Optimize interface helps you keep track of the progress as it displays a green checkmark for any preparation process you’ve completed.
The first step is to create a variant page for the A/B testing:
- Click the Add variant button on the Targeting and variants section.
- Enter the name of the variant page.
- The new web page should appear on the list. Click Edit to customize it.
- Use the page builder to modify the variant landing page. Once you’ve finished editing it, click Save -> Done.
Repeat the process by clicking the Add variant button to test multiple variations. Google Optimize allows you to test up to seven different versions.
5. Configure the Objectives and Settings
The first configuration to set is the variant weight. This will define how Google Optimize will distribute traffic to all page versions. By default, Google Optimize distributes it evenly, but you can set a custom percentage.
Click the percentage weight and use the drop-down menu to select Custom percentages. Then, define the preferred variant weight.
After that, set a test objective. Head to the Measurement and objectives section and click Add experiment objective.
Select one primary objective from the available options.
If you want to have more than one test objective, click on Add additional objective. Google Optimize lets you have up to three objectives per experience.
After that, go to the Settings section to configure email notifications, traffic allocation, and other items.
6. Run the Test
Before starting the test, we recommend checking the Google Optimize installation to ensure that you have installed the tracking code snippet correctly. Go to the Settings section and click Check installation.
It will direct you to the visual editor and display a pop-up screen if Google Optimized has been installed correctly.
Now you can run the test. Go back to the Experience dashboard and click on the Start button.
To schedule a specific time to start and end the test, click the clock icon next to the start button.
7. Collect the Reports
Once the test is running, open the Reporting tab to see the collected data.
Note that Google may take up to 12 hours to push the data from Google Analytics to Google Optimize. Therefore, it’s normal to see no results in the first few hours after the test started.
The test will run for 35 days unless you specify a different end time. Go back to the Details tab and click the End button to end the test before that.
By ending the test, Google will stop pushing the data from Google Analytics to Google Optimize. The Reporting tab will display the last data received from Google Analytics before the end of the test.
The Google Optimize report contains data from Google Analytics, such as experiment sessions, experiment conversions, and calculated conversion rate.
The Google Optimize analysis section presents metrics for each variant, like the probability to be the best, the probability to beat the original, and modeled improvement to determine the best page version.
7 Best WordPress A/B Testing Plugins and Tools
We’ve demonstrated how to conduct A/B testing for your WordPress site using Google Optimize. It’s one of the most powerful third-party tools that you can easily integrate into WordPress and Google Analytics.
That said, there are other alternatives. You can install a WordPress plugin to conduct A/B tests from the dashboard. Other third-party platforms also offer advanced testing features for bigger business websites.
Let’s see the seven best WordPress plugins and tools for A/B testing.
- Downloads: 2,000+
- Rating: 4.6/5
- Notable features: global consistency feature, heatmap, scroll map
- Best suited for: beginners (all types of websites)
- Price: freemium (from $24/month)
Nelio A/B Testing is a dedicated WordPress plugin to create and monitor A/B tests from the WordPress dashboard. This plugin is great for testing headlines, landing pages, and custom post types.
This simple page tester plugin lets you use the regular WordPress editor to create a page variation for the test. Using the global consistency option, you can automatically modify other WordPress pages with the tested variant element.
Each test has a dashboard for its results and progress, with various charts showing conversion rates and improvement, making it easy to scan the results. Moreover, you get the heatmap and scroll map results for each page variant.
Once you’ve finished the test, Nelio A/B testing lets you apply the winning variant to your site with a single click.
The plugin’s free version lets you track one of the six available actions:
- Page view
- Click on a specific element
- Click on an external link
- Form submission
- YouTube video playback
You’ll have to sign up for a premium version to track more actions. It also lets you test multiple versions of the page.
- Notable features: unlimited tests, visual editor, custom traffic distribution
- Best suited for: all websites
- Price: $167/year to $299/year
Thrive Optimize is a premium WordPress plugin that lets you quickly set up a test without adding any code snippet to the site for action tracking purposes.
Creating an A/B test with this plugin requires only four steps: creating the variant page, editing it using a visual editor, picking the conversion goal, and starting the test.
The plugin allows unlimited tests and page variations, which is great for continuous site improvement. Three conversion goals are available – page visit, opt-in form submission, and revenue. You can customize the traffic distribution easily with a slider bar.
The test results include detailed reporting and an automatic winner feature that will set the best page version for the site.
- Downloads: 1+ million
- Rating: 4.5/5
- Notable features: built-in variant builder, compatibility with OptinMonster’s Exit Intent
- Best suited for: form conversion and marketing campaign optimization
- Price: freemium (from $9/month)
OptinMonster is a newsletter and lead generation plugin to create marketing campaigns and pop-up opt-in forms. While this is not a WordPress plugin built for A/B testing, OptinMonster has an A/B test feature for improving conversion on your marketing campaigns.
You’ll also need WPForms to conduct an A/B test for WordPress forms. Once both plugins are connected, use OptinMonster’s A/B Split Testing feature to create the test and the variant with its visual builder.
The A/B test feature tracks impressions, leads generated by the form, and the conversion rate of test variants. The feature is also compatible with OptinMonster’s Exit Intent technology to see which pop-up banner can convert abandoning visitors into subscribers or buyers.
- Downloads: 3,000+
- Rating: 4.3/5
- Notable features: full compatibility with Elementor, split test option
- Best suited for: Elementor-based WordPress sites
- Price: freemium (from $47/year)
Split Test For Elementor is a dedicated plugin to perform A/B and split tests on an Elementor-based WordPress website.
This plugin lets you A/B test any element on the site. The integration with the Elementor plugin lets you define the element variant directly on the page builder.
Alternatively, do a split test for two WordPress pages to compare different page layouts. First, you have to create WordPress landing pages, then use the plugin to perform a split test.
The free version is limited to a single variant. Subscribe to the premium version to access unlimited test variants and conduct tests on unlimited websites.
- Notable features: visual and code builder, customizable reports
- Best suited for: enterprises
- Price: custom
Visual Website Optimizer (VWO) is a versatile conversion optimization service that offers plenty of advanced A/B testing tools and customizable reports.
It comes with two landing page editors. The visual editor lets users modify the variant page by editing page elements or adding dynamic elements without coding. This is an excellent option for marketers who want to set up the test without coding.
The plugin’s report is customizable to show detailed metrics like conversion rate, improvement percentage, and potential loss. An integrated heatmap and visitors recording are also available to see how visitors behave on the test landing pages.
VWO is more suitable for well-established businesses. You need to contact VWO to get a price estimation and contract term for your business site. However, they provide a 30-day free trial, so you can see if this is the best tool for your tests.
- Notable features: unlimited tests, advanced targetting, multiple test type options
- Best suited for: enterprises
- Price: from $699/month to $1,889/month
Convert is an all-in-one website testing platform with tools for four website tests – A/B, split, multi-page, and multivariate tests.
This enterprise-grade tool provides advanced reporting with metrics such as click-through rate, average order value, and revenue per visitor. Its interactive dashboard also lets you segment the test results data.
The advanced targeting feature helps you identify underperforming traffic sources or geolocations. This data can be a great basis for deciding which locales to improve and target for a new web design and A/B testing.
As this is one of the most advanced A/B testing tools on the list, its price is at the higher end of the scale, starting from $699/month. There’s a 15-day free trial if you want to test it first.
- Notable features: advanced visitor recording, multiple test type options
- Best suited for: enterprises
- Price: custom
Symplify, previously known as SiteGainer, is a comprehensive conversion optimization tool that supports A/B, funnel, and multivariate tests.
This optimization service offers visitor recording and heatmap features that integrate well with A/B testing tools to provide better insights. Its drag-and-drop and code editors give you more flexibility when creating test landing pages.
You can choose from over 30 website elements for the A/B test. For more complex analysis, Simplify also offers a multivariate test feature that lets you experiment with more than one element and a funnel test to analyze the change throughout the customer journey.
Types of Tests Other Than A/B Testing
While A/B tests provide valuable insights, there are also some limitations. For example, the nature of testing a single element at a time makes it difficult to execute complex tests. A/B testing also can be time-consuming and complicated to set up.
Thus, here are some alternatives to A/B testing:
- Multivariate test – this is a more complex approach than the A/B test. A multivariate test puts several elements to the test together.
- Split URL or redirect test – involves hosting the landing pages on different URLs. This is more suitable for testing a major page redesign, as such modifications may load slower in a standard A/B testing platform.
- Multi-page test – this method is best to test a consistent change throughout the page. For example, you want to test a color scheme variation on an eCommerce website and implement the change from the landing pages to the checkout page.
A/B testing a WordPress website helps you make data-driven decisions to improve it. Using the test results, you don’t have to make guesses when implementing updates for WordPress landing pages, saving you time and resources.
Google Analytics and Google Optimize are two of the best tools for A/B testing. They are free, and Google Analytics provides numerous insights about your website, even when you’re not running tests.
However, several WordPress plugins are available if you want the convenience of setting up the A/B test from the WordPress dashboard. You can also consider using a third-party premium testing platform if you need to analyze bigger business websites.