WordPress plugins for A/B split-testing

Website Experimenting Part II

OK, we’re back to talk about split-testing. Before you think we’re gonna blast you with pics of Jean-Claude Van Damme and creepy “it’s go time” voiceovers (they are funny), let us remind you: we’re not talking about that kind of split-test. We covered split-testing basics in the first of our three-part series. Now we’re taking the next step; but first, let’s recap.

What is split-testing?

Split-testing, or A/B split-testing in fancy schmancy marketing circles, is a way to test two different types of web pages at the same time. Not sure if your “Click Here for More Information” call-to-action performs better than your “Call Us Now for a Quote” call-to-action? Split-testing helps you find out. A percentage of your visitors will see your first call-to-action and another percentage will see the second one. After enough people visit and interact with your site, you go with the one that works better.

This is great for obvious reasons. If you’re a small business owner, there’s nothing better than knowing if your website is helping your business be more successful. If you’re someone who makes websites for a living, there’s nothing better than showing your client that the stuff you’re making for them is helping them do what they love to do.

Split-testing in WordPress

Seeing that a ton of small businesses (and web designers) use WordPress for their websites, we thought we should talk a little about split-testing with that in mind. You can, of course, create a custom field in WordPress and manually add A/B split-test code to your web page — if you’re comfortable with JavaScript and Google Analytics. We’re going to keep things simpler than that. There are some great WordPress plugins that can set up split-tests for you — no coding required. And the plugins we looked at produce some really pretty charts.

We don’t know about you, but we love really pretty charts.

Here are three split-test plugins for WordPress you should definitely check out. There are a lot of other options, but these are a great place to start. Before you set them up, we recommend you have two different pages you want to test ready to go. It makes things a lot easier.

NOTE: Installing all of these plugins is a snap. You don’t have to download them and then re-upload them to your hosting account. Log in to wp-admin (or have your web developer log in to wp-admin). Search for them and install them from the Plugins section.

Convert Experiments by Yoast

Convert Experiments by Yoast. You have to sign up for an account at Convert, but don’t let that deter you. It’s the perfect price for getting started (free for the first year and a reasonable annual fee after that) and it’s easy to set up. Once you install the plugin and sign up, you sign in to Convert and create your first experiment. Because you’re using WordPress and want to test pages that already exist, you’ll set up a Split-URL Experiment. Grab the ID for your project and add it to the Convert Experiments Configuration section in WordPress. This connects the services together and makes it easy to jump to your experiments and reports later on.

Convert Experiments by Yoast WordPress Plugin

First impressions? It’s got a beautiful interface and it’s easy to get started. You’re not managing experiments or reading reports inside WordPress, but that’s probably not a showstopper for most people; the application is intuitive and feels a lot like WordPress. The reports are clear and show the difference between your pages right at the top. You can see how your pages are performing (traffic, bounce rate, conversion) at a glance.

We also like that if you ever want to test something outside of WordPress, something like a web coupon or special landing page, you can use Convert for that, too.

And listen, Yoast is a company that a lot of people trust. Including us. We use their WordPress SEO plugin on our site. If Yoast is working with Convert, we think it’s something worth checking out.

Nelio A/B Testing

Nelio A/B Testing. To use Nelio in WordPress you’ll have to sign up for an account. If you’re just getting started, the Basic plan works fine. It gets you A/B testing, heat-maps, unlimited experiments, reporting, and unlimited email support. Support can be helpful, you know, for when you decide to get really fancy and test all your article titles and the featured images on your blog. The Basic plan includes a 14-day free trial and it’s $24–$29 a month after that.

Nelio A/B Testing WordPress Plugin

First impressions? Again, this one is easy to set up; you don’t have to code anything. That’s great. To create tests and run reports, you stay inside WordPress. That’s cool. But perhaps the most impressive part of Nelio is how easy they make it to split-test nearly everything on your website: posts, pages, titles, themes, and CSS tweaks. They also do a really great job explaining conversion actions and why those are so important for testing the success of your website.

The price is a little higher than other plugins we looked at, but Nelio knows what they’re doing. The multiple split-test options plus their A/B Split Testing blog and information about conversion actions might be worth the price. At least you’ve got 14 days to find out, right?

Simple Page Tester

Simple Page Tester. Simple Page Tester is the least expensive of the options we looked at, especially if you’re primarily interested in visits to your website. It’s free.  Forever. Thing is, total visits don’t paint a full picture when testing pages on your website. You’ll eventually want to see conversion metrics (how many people clicked on something, signed up for a newsletter, downloaded a coupon, bought something). You can get a premium version of Simple Page Tester for $59 that tracks conversions, but even without conversion tracking it’s a great introduction to split-testing.

Simple Page Tester WordPress Plugin

First impressions? It’s not as polished as the other tools we looked at, but it’s dead-simple to implement and it feels right at home in WordPress. Earlier in this post, I mentioned you should get two different pages ready to go before you set up your split test. That’s not the case with Simple Page Tester. Install and activate the plugin, go to a post/page that already exists, click Setup New Split Test, and you can duplicate an existing post from there. After that, all you have to do is make adjustments to your new page. Change the title. Add a picture. Shorten the post. Out of the three split-test apps we tried, this one was the fastest to set up.

Once your test is live, you can set how much traffic to send to the original post and how much to send to the variation. Once you’ve had a solid amount of visitors (Simple Page Tester will tell you when), you click Declare Winner to route all the traffic to the web page that works. Kinda cool.

Any other recommendations? What other tools have you used to measure what’s working on your websites?

Wordcamp 2014

Shawn Pfunder
Shawn's been working with freelancers, entrepreneurs, and business owners for more than 20 years. He's consulted companies large and small on communication, social media, and marketing strategies. At heart he's a small-business superfan. He believes that working for yourself is one of the most courageous and creative moves anyone can make. Currently, he's the Editor in Chief for The Garage. When he's not hanging out with solopreneurs, Shawn loves to write, run, and travel. He's passionate about teaching and he's convinced that a good story is the best way to do it — especially if it involves El Caminos, potato fields, and really loud music.