How to Start Split Testing Your Landing Pages (Free Method)
Split testing becomes fun when you can create variation pages quickly and that's one of the major advantages that Thrive Architect offers: speed of implementation. Thanks to the templates and the fast editor, you can get new pages set up very rapidly.
This also means that it it's no longer very time consuming to set up split-tests and start improving your conversions. This post is a step-by-step guide to setting up tests (for free) using Google's Content Experiments.
Since first publishing this article, we released Thrive Optimize.
Thrive Optimize is our own split testing solution. It integrates seamlessly with Thrive Architect and takes away all the hassle of setting up goals in Google Analytics or fiddling with code on your site.
For a low one-time fee, you can set up as many A/B tests as you want. Watch the video below to see how quick it is to set up a split test in Thrive Optimize.
Watch the video for a step-by-step walkthrough or check the instructions below:
Getting Started With Your A/B Test
For this guide, I'm assuming you already use Google Analytics on your website. In addition, you'll need at least 3 pages:
The control is your original landing page. The challenger is the new landing page or a variation that we're going to test against the control. The success page is the one that a visitor sees after a successful conversion.
A Note About Confirmed Opt-In
If you are testing a lead generation page and using a confirmed opt-in (or "double opt-in") process, I recommend you make the confirmation page the success page. In other words, we're going to track visits to the confirmation page as a successful conversion, even though some of those visitors might not confirm and so won't end up on your mailing list.
You can then track conversions from the confirmation page to the download page separately. The reason I recommend this setup is because it measures what matters: the opt-in page's primary job is to get people to sign up. Getting them to also confirm is the confirmation page's primary, so that should be measured and tested separately.
Note that if you are a Thrive Themes user, you can create a clone of your control page with just one click, in the pages overview:
This is a good way to quickly replicate the basic setup of the page and then create a variation of it.
Creating the Conversion Goal
With your three pages ready, head to your Google Analytics dashboard. Go to "Admin", "Goals" and then create a new goal:
Give the goal a name and select the "destination" type:
In the next step, there are a few important points:
1) Goal Page
This is where you set the destination of your success page. Only enter the part of the URL that comes after the domain.
Check to see if your signup form appends any tracking data to the success page URL. In some cases, you might see something like this in the URL bar, when you sign up:
This means each new subscriber will have different variables at the end of the success page URL. In this case, you can set the drop-down to "Begins with" instead of "Equals".
2) Funnel Option
Only turn this option on if traffic from several sources can reach the same success page. For a lead generation process like we're setting up in this example, this should not be the case.
You can verify your goal setup before creating the goal, but keep in mind that if you're setting up a new test with a new set of pages, the verification won't work because there won't have been any previous visitors to the success page.
Creating the Experiment
Go to the "Reporting" section in Analytics and in the sidebar menu, select "Behavior" and "Experiments":
Click on the "Create Experiment" button and you'll see these options:
Give your new experiment a name. From the "Select a metric" drop down, pick the new goal we've set up in the step before.
There are a few other settings in this section. For a new experiment, you can leave all of them set to default.
In the next step, you can set up your control and challenger pages:
In the first field, set the URL of your control page. In the second field, set the URL of your challenger page. You can add further challengers if you want to test more than two versions of the page, but for this tutorial, we'll stick to just the two.
In the next step, you are provided with a code snippet. Copy this code snippet and open your control page in Thrive Architect. Then, go to "page setup", "Landing page Settings"
Then click on "custom scripts":
Paste the code from the experiment in the top field:
Save the changes and then publish or save the page before going back to the Google experiment dashboard. In the next step of the experiment setup, your pages will be verified:
You should see both the checks validate correctly and you can then click on the "Start Experiment" button.
Once done, you should send all of your traffic to the control page. Some of your visitors will automatically see the challenger page instead and Google Content Experiments will be collecting the test data.
No Google Analytics Code?
It might happen that the verification fails because no Google Analytics code is found on the pages. Depending on how you are integrating GA on your site, the code may or may not show up on landing pages.
First off, my personal recommendation is that you use this Google Analytics plugin. It's the easiest way to automatically add the Google Analytics tracking code to all your posts, pages and landing pages.
You can also manually insert the GA code on your landing pages to correct the verification error. To do so, go to the "Admin" section in your Google Analytics dashboard, select your site in the "Property" column and click on the "Tracking Code" link in the "Tracking Info" section:
Copy the tracking code and follow the same steps as above to paste the code into the first custom script field on every page involved in the experiment.
And that's your A/B test set up and running (as soon as you click the "start experiment") button.
You'll now find a progress report in your GA dashboard and you'll be able to see which page does better. How to read this data and when to end tests will be a whole topic on its own. For now, let me just say that you should run the test for at least two weeks before making any decisions.
Was this post useful for you? Do you have any other questions about creating a split-test with your landing pages? Leave a comment and let me know!