Should I be split testing during the Covid-19 crisis?

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Our Strategy Director Al Rowe says yes, now more than ever but start small, read more

 

Should I be split testing during Covid-19?

A lot of customers have been asking me ‘should I be doing split testing during the Covid-19 crisis?’ and 'is now the time to be making big changes, or should you tread more cautiously?' — to which I say yes, definitely but with some caution! And here’s why…

This virus is not going away any time soon!

When the UK entered lockdown on 23rd March 2020 due to the Coronavirus crisis, most businesses thought it would only be for a short period of time. It is now clear that Covid-19 is probably here to stay, like the measles and HIV (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-52643682).

Consequently, the uncertainty businesses face in the coming months is also not going away any time soon. If evolution teaches us anything, it is that during changes of environmental pressure the survivors are those that are better adapted to the changed circumstances.

Therefore, businesses that get through this difficult time will be a mixture of those that were lucky enough to be operating in vertical sectors that happen to be in demand as well as those that are set up for online trading. This may include manufacturers of PPE and other defensive products, perspex screen manufacturers, glove makers etc. As the shops closed and workers worked from home, the business world possibly changed in a way that means we are not going back to the way it was…ever! This drove customers to shop online for pretty much everything. So if you are operating an e-commerce business online, you are well-placed to do well at this time. If you are not, then what can you do to adapt in this direction?

People talk about ’new normal’. I am not sure we are moving towards or are in a new normal. What we are in, is a time of increased unpredictability and change. This makes testing and conversion rate optimization far more vital than ever.

Let’s use a practical example to understand this simply. The UK government does not know whether relaxing the lockdown will create a second wave or not. In the USA, each state can decide for itself when and how to relax lockdown. This provides a much-needed split testing opportunity to understand what factors influence resurgence or not. Governments around the world will watch and learn.

The same is true with your website. There is much to learn about the psychology of your site visitors and what you can do to serve them better at this time. You can do this in many ways. One way is to use a tool like VWO (vwo.com) or Hotjar to do an online poll. Simply ask them what you can do to help them during COVID-19. As is always the case, you will only get a small percentage of respondents, but we always find this information useful.

If you are running e-commerce, then it may be that your customers want more clarity on how delivery is affected during this time and so making improvements to how you message this on the site may make the difference between a sale or not.

If you already have a Conversion Rate Optimization strategy in place then you may have session video recordings from before and after lockdown as well as heatmaps. Use this data to compare before and after to spot changes and trends. What are users doing now that they weren’t before and vice versa? Does this suggest new calls to action are needed or changes to the wording?

Humans seek comfort and security, they always have done, they always will. So what are you doing on your website to make users feel more comfortable and secure during this crisis? I see many businesses that have no clear message to reflect the changing times. Burying your head in the sand will not engender trust because most people recognise that these are not normal times. They expect you to have changed how you operate and to at least acknowledge this. There are plenty of real-time messaging tools and infobars you can plugin to your website easily. Make use of these.

If you operate an international business then having an awareness of how your different territories are coping with the global pandemic will allow you to personalise or modify your approach in each country.

We do not know how long this is going to last, but we do know that things change fast and all the time. Therefore, do not focus on big changes, requiring development investment unless you are sure of the benefits. Instead, focus on being agile and testing more small changes to allow you to navigate with rapidity.

There is no promised land, you should always be testing because all you can do is move forward and deal with the now.

Conversion rate optimization has always been about improving on strategic goal successes on your website. It has always been about a mixture of best practice UX and customer service as well as an understanding of what your site visitors want from your website. The world is always changing, people are always changing, UX trends, technological advances, prices, demand etc. are always changing. Therefore, a forward thinking business should always be testing. All we can do is seek to improve on the current state of play. We can learn from the past, but we can never return to it and there are always reasons why the future will be different.

Econsultancy (2018) learned that 63% of companies lack a structured approach to optimizationHubspot (2020) found that only 17% of marketers use landing page A/B testing to improve conversion rates. Only with a strategic approach to understanding customer data can you improve. That is true in times of lower uncertainty, just as it is true during the craziness of a global pandemic.

At ClickThrough Marketing, we take this further with our unique Data-led Design® methodology which uses offline user-testing to validate design solutions to conversion improving hypotheses. Through this approach we gain superior gains to traditional AB testing. This is as true today, 14th May as it was before the world changed!

If you would like to discuss how we can help you improve your conversion book a short call with me!

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