When you create digital marketing campaigns for your real estate business, such as your Facebook Ads or email marketing, it can be very tempting to go off intuition.
We often guess or make assumptions on what we think will convert or make people click on links. Making these decisions based on ‘feelings’ is however quite risky and can cost your business a lot of money.
You may make certain decisions because you’ve read somewhere that it works for other companies – the reality is that each audience behaves differently, so what works for another company, may not work for you.
When it comes to digital marketing campaigns for your real estate business, it’s best to run A/B tests to support your decision-making.
In this post, we’ll take you through 10 easy-to-follow steps that will explain how to do A/B testing for your digital marketing campaigns.
What is A/B testing?
A/B testing, sometimes also referred to as ‘split testing’, is an experiment where you test a number of variations of a marketing campaign to determine which one performs better. You do this by creating two different versions of a marketing campaign and splitting up your audience. One part of your audience will see version A, one part of your audience will see version B.
You can think of it as a competition – you’re simply putting two different versions of your marketing campaign up against each other to see which one works best.
In order to successfully run an A/B test you should only change one variable per version. If you change multiple things, such as both the image and the CTA, you can’t say which variable was responsible for the change in performance.
Why should I use A/B testing?
There are multiple benefits to using A/B tests for your digital marketing campaigns. Ultimately, the testing will allow you to optimise your marketing, increase your conversion rates and save you costs.
To give you an idea of how A/B testing can help with these things, let’s take a look at some examples.
1. Increasing your website traffic
A/B testing can help you increase your website traffic in multiple ways. You can for example test 2 different blog or webpage titles (for the same blog/webpage), and see how many people click on each hyperlinked title. If one title is clearly generating more clicks than the other, you know you should proceed with this one in order to increase your website traffic.
Let’s use the example of a blog about preparing your house for sale. You could test the following options for the title:
- How To Prepare Your House For A Sale
- 12 Ways To Prepare Your House For A Sale
If you see a significantly higher click-rate on one of these two options, you should go for this option. If option B were to generate more clicks, you should also keep in mind that numbers in the beginning of your title may generate more clicks. This can help you with future titles of blog posts.
2. Increasing your conversion rate
Simple changes such as a different colour or text in your CTA button, or a different location of your CTA on a webpage can make a major difference in your conversion rate. A/B testing is a great way to find out what works best for your website and audience.
Here, we’ll use the example of testing out a different colour CTA button:
If one button generates significantly more conversions than the other, you should use this one for your free appraisal button.
When you test something like the CTA button, it can be tempting to try out different wording, fonts, or shapes too. It’s however important to stick to only one difference per test – otherwise you won’t know which quality made the difference. You can always run new tests afterwards.
3. Improving your open rate
Email subject lines are one of the most important things in your direct email marketing campaigns – if the subject doesn’t sound interesting enough, the majority of your audience will simply never open and read your email. A/B testing is incredibly useful in testing out which subject lines perform best, and therefore improves your open-rates.
When you’re sending out new property alerts, you could for example try out if a personalised subjects leads to higher open rates:
- New Listing Matching Your Property Alert
- [Name], There Is A New Listing Matching Your Property Alert
If your A/B test shows that B leads to significantly higher open rates, you know to include personalisation in these email subjects.
You can also use A/B testing to find out the optimal time to send out your email campaigns. Is your audience more likely to open an email on Monday around 7:00 am, or do you see higher open rates for emails on a Wednesday at midday?
How to run an A/B test for your digital marketing campaign
So, now you know why A/B testing is valuable for your real estate business, let’s go through how you can conduct these tests yourself.
We’ve put the process together in 10 easy-to-follow steps.
1. Pick the variable you want to test.
The first step is to pick the variable you want to test. As we mentioned above, you should only test one variable at a time – this is one of the key rules for A/B testing. If you test multiple variables at the same time, you won’t know which one was responsible for the change in performance.
You can of course test multiple variables – you just have to make sure you’re only testing one at a time.
When deciding what variable you want to test, look at the elements in your marketing and think of possible alternatives for wording, design and layout. Some common things to test in A/B testing are:
- Blog post/web page titles
- CTA colours, locations or copy
- Featured images
- Email subject lines/sender names
Small, simple changes, such as changing the position of a CTA button on a certain web page, can sometimes drive big improvements. These types of small changes are often also easier to measure than more radical ones.
2. Identify your goal
Once you’ve decided on your variable, it’s time to identify your goal. What do you want to achieve with this test? Do you want more website traffic, higher open rates on your emails, or more conversions?
It’s important to decide what your goal is and what your focus will be on before setting up your alternative variation (your ‘B’ version that you will be testing). This is because your goal will ultimately drive how you set up the test.
If you don’t decide on a goal before setting up the second variable, you may not set up the test in the most effective way.
3. Build your challenger
So, now you’ve decided on the variable you want to test and the goal you want to achieve, it’s time to build your ‘challenger’. This is the alternate version (version ‘B’) that you will be testing against – your different CTA, webpage title, copy or image.
4. Split your audience
This step is mostly for tests where you have control over the audience, such as emails. In most A/B testing tools (more about that soon), the tool will automatically split your audience.
If you need to do the splitting yourself, make sure you create two or more audiences that are equal and random.
5. Determine your sample size
As with any experiment or test, you need to determine what the sample size will be. You need to conduct your test on a large enough audience – if you don’t, it will be hard to tell whether there was a statistically significant difference between your two variations. If you only conduct your test on a small audience, it’s likely the difference in performance is by random chance.
If you’re testing the open rates for a subject line for a certain email campaign, your sample size could be as follows:
- Let’s say you have 1,000 recipients in your database. You may decide to conduct the test on 50% of this audience. After the test, the winning version will then be sent to the remaining 50%. To conduct the A/B test, you split up your 500 contacts in 250 and 250. Your metric for this A/B test is the open rate. You can set a certain timeframe for the test, such as 4 hours. This means that, in 4 hours, the version with the highest open rate will be sent to the remaining 500 contacts.
If you’re testing something that doesn’t have a finite audience, such as a page on your website, you need to keep your test running for long enough to obtain a substantial number of views. How long you’ll need to keep your test running for depends on the amount of website traffic you get.
6. Decide how significant results need to be
This is an important step in the A/B testing process – ultimately, this will decide whether you will proceed with version A or B. Decide, before conducting the test, how significant results need to be in order for you to proceed with version B (the challenger) instead of version A.
7. Use an A/B testing tool
Now you’ve created your different versions, it’s time to run your test. In order to effectively do an A/B test, you should use an A/B testing tool. There are many tools available for this – you could for example use Google Analytics for your web pages and Facebook Ads Manager for your Facebook ads. If you use a tool for your email marketing, it is likely to have an integrated A/B testing function that you can use.
8. Test both versions at the same time
Timing is an incredibly important factor for your marketing campaigns. It’s therefore important that you test both versions at the same time, at the same day of the week, month and year. If you use version A one week and version B the next, you don’t know whether the change in performance was caused by the different variables, or by the timing.
This of course does not apply if you’re actually testing the timing for something, such as the best time to send out emails.
9. Gather data
Now it’s time to wait-and-see. While your test is running, the tool you’re using will collect data automatically and advise when the test has concluded. You can view the progress at any time, but remember that you have to allow enough time for the test to obtain a good amount of data before drawing conclusions. This is why step 5 is so important – your sample size needs to be large enough to tell whether there was a statistically significant difference between the two variations.
How long this step takes depends greatly on your agency and how much traffic you get – if you don’t get a lot of traffic, it will take significantly longer to collect enough data for your test.
10. Analyse the results of your A/B test
Once your test concludes, you need to analyse your results. Draw your conclusions based on which variation won the test, and use your decision from step 6: how significant does the result need to be?
If you have a clear winner – that’s great. You’ve run a successful test and should use the winning variation for your marketing campaign, and keep this in mind for any future campaigns.
If your test is inconclusive, meaning the differences in outcome between version A and B are not significant enough, that’s okay too: you’ve learned that the variable you tested did not impact results. Stick with the original version or run another test.
Now you’ve completed your test, you can use the winning variant (or the original if there was no winner) and start over again with a new variable. This way, you’ll keep optimising your marketing constantly and always improve your success rate.
Important: don’t run multiple tests at the same time
One last important note for your A/B tests is that you should not run multiple tests at the same time. This is especially the case if the tests have similar elements: if you’re A/B testing an email that directs to a certain landing page, and you’re A/B testing that landing page at the same time, you won’t know which change caused the difference in performance.
A/B testing is one of the most powerful ways to collect information about copywriting and design choices. For accurate results, it’s important to follow the right procedure.
Need help with your digital marketing?
If all of this sounds a little daunting, or if you simply don’t have the time to invest in digital marketing, it may be worth investing in an agency to do the hard work for you. At Lead Fleet, we specialise in digital marketing for the real estate industry and we’d love to help your agency. Book a no-obligation, free consultation with the expert team today to find out more about our services.