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A/B testing: Best practices and tools for marketing your event business

by | Apr 2, 2024 | Best Practices, Event Marketing, Marketing

A/B testing, or split testing, is a cornerstone of data-driven marketing for any growing business. It allows you to compare two versions of a marketing asset and see which performs better. 

For busy event professionals, A/B testing is easy to overlook. It takes time, intentionality, and effort. But we promise you…it’s worth it. In what you learn through A/B testing, you can:

  • Increase your conversion rates
  • Boost return on investment (ROI)
  • Make data-driven decisions
  • Improve the user experience
  • Reduced marketing costs

We’re breaking down the best practices to help you A/B test your event business’s marketing materials so you can set yourself up for business growth and success.

Planning Pod empowers event professionals to focus on the strategic aspects of running their businesses, like effective marketing. Our platform helps you handle the details so you can grow your business and create more unforgettable experiences.

Before you begin, don’t skip this step!

Define your goals. It is essential that you establish clear objectives for any A/B test prior to execution. We recommend starting by identifying your big picture goals for your event business. Are you prioritizing lead volume? Brand awareness? Increased site traffic? Any marketing materials should contribute to accomplishing a specific goal for your event business.

If you’re more focused on business growth, you might prioritize higher click through rates (CTRs) on ads that lead to a high-converting landing page. Or conversely, improving the conversion rate of a landing page attached to an ad campaign with high CTR. On the other hand, if you’re trying to increase brand awareness, maybe it makes more sense to improve open rates for an e-newsletter you’ve created. 

Whatever your event business goals may be, taking the time to identify them helps you choose the right metrics to track during any A/B test. 

Let’s talk A/B test execution. To really drill down on making your marketing efforts effective, you need to approach your A/B tests like a scientist. 

That starts with isolating variables

No matter what marketing piece you’re testing, you should always test one element at a time (whether it be your headline, image, or CTA) to pinpoint the cause of performance changes. Testing too many things simultaneously muddies the waters and makes it difficult to interpret results.

Speaking of outcomes…the results of your A/B test are only as good as the audience that engaged with it. And it’s super important that you don’t rely on small sample sizes. This is why you need to account for statistically significant audience sample sizes

Not sure how to determine the minimum audience needed for statistically significant results? Use a sample size calculator like this one.

Beyond ensuring a statistically significant sample size for your A/B tests, you need to remember that randomization is key. Translated, this just means you should randomly split your audience between the control (original) and variation (modified) versions of the marketing piece you’re testing. This eliminates bias and ensures a fair comparison. Most A/B testing tools or platforms have built-in functionality for audience randomization. 

At this point in your A/B testing journey, it is crucial to determine which relevant metrics to track. Depending on the goals you set for a marketing piece or campaign, you might track clicks, conversions, open rates, bounce rates, or time spent on a landing page. You can use website analytics tools and email marketing software for data monitoring.

Now let’s get into some best practices for A/B testing individual types of marketing materials or campaigns, and what tools you can use to best execute your tests.

What variations to A/B test for paid online ads (PPC platforms):

  • Headlines: Test different ad headlines to see which ones grab attention and compel clicks. Consider headlines with strong, actionable verbs, clear benefits, and a sense of urgency.
  • Call to action (CTAs): Try different CTAs with varying wording, button colors, and placement. And remember that a strong CTA is always clear, concise, and action-oriented.
  • Images/videos: Test different visuals to see what resonates with your target audience, and make sure they’re high-quality. Top notch visuals can significantly impact ad performance.

Most major Pay-Per-Click (PPC) platforms like Google Ads and Meta Ads Manager offer built-in A/B testing functionalities that fit the best practices we discussed above. These tools allow you to create variations of your ads and easily compare their performance.

What variations to A/B test on landing pages:

  • Headlines: The purpose of most event business landing pages is to increase conversions and fill your sales pipeline. For this reason, be sure to test different headlines geared toward driving conversions.
  • Value propositions: Any effective landing page should clearly communicate your event business’s value proposition. Be sure to A/B test different messaging to see what really strikes a chord with your audience.
  • Call to action (CTAs): It’s a good idea to test different CTAs on your landing page, including placement, button style, and wording. However, remember that your landing page CTA should also mirror the CTA on the ad that leads to it. If you found an effective CTA in one of your ads, no need to reinvent the wheel on your landing page.
  • Form length: Reducing friction in your contact form is key to increasing conversions and filling your sales pipeline. It’s important to keep your forms as simple as possible. Test shorter versions without too many fields – and remember, sometimes just one extra required field or click before submission can make or break your conversion rate.

Several landing page creation platforms like Unbounce and Optimizely offer built-in A/B testing functionalities. These tools allow you to create variations of your landing page and seamlessly run split tests.

What variations to A/B test in your emails:

  • Subject lines: A catchy subject line is crucial for email open rates. Test different subject lines to see which ones entice recipients to open your email, and don’t be afraid to take some risks! Sometimes an unexpected subject line can pique the interest you need for high open rates.
  • Sender names: Test sending emails from different names (e.g., company name vs. individual name) to see which resonates better. In our experience, an individual sender name provides a more personal touch and amps up relatability – but you never know what works best for your audience.
  • Preview text: Your email’s preview text appears next to the subject line. This aspect of email marketing can go a long way in further enticing email opens, so test a few different variations.
  • Email content: Experiment with different email content formats. It’s worth finding out if your audience takes action within long form vs short form email copy, different visuals, and/or varying CTA placements.

Most email marketing platforms like Mailchimp and Constant Contact offer A/B testing functionalities for subject lines, sender names, and email content.

An image of a hand picking a piece of paper out of a jar signifies randomization as an A/B testing best practice.

A few bonus tips:

  • Run multiple tests. Don’t stop at just one test. In order to keep your marketing efforts current and effective, you should be continuously experimenting and optimizing based on your findings.
  • Document what you learn. This is where you truly turn your marketing into a science. Keep a record of your A/B tests, including the hypothesis, variations tested, results, and insights gained. This will not only provide clarity for your future self looking back at what you’ve tested in the past, but it will help you establish a tried-and-true protocol for A/B testing.
  • Be patient. A/B testing that yields valuable results takes time. Be sure to allow your tests to run long enough to collect statistically significant data (and remember the importance of sample sizes).
  • Embrace the unexpected. Sometimes, test results can surprise you. Your best tool to help you get the most out of your A/B tests is an open mindset. Take the opportunity to learn from unexpected outcomes and adapt your marketing strategies accordingly.

By following these best practices and utilizing the available A/B testing tools, you can gain valuable insights into target audience behavior and optimize your marketing materials for better performance – ultimately driving your event business growth.Time is money, especially in the event industry. Planning Pod saves you both, allowing you to invest in strategic marketing for your event business and deliver unforgettable experiences. Get started today!