Hot or Not: Your Comprehensive Guide to A/B Testing and Heat Maps

When it comes to the design of a business website, the ultimate goal is to create a website that is successful in convincing its visitors to perform certain tasks. Lately, A/B Split testing tools as well as heat maps have gained in popularity mainly because these tools offer a specific utility. But the real question here is, are they really any good when it comes to increasing a business’s ROI or website conversion rates? Or is it all just a clever marketing gimmick? With similar web matrices around, what makes these strip of JavaScript so special? Let’s find out!

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A/B Testing

So, what’s the best day to fire up your email marketing campaign? Weekends or weekdays? What’s the best time to start your marketing campaign? Morning, afternoon, midnight? What kind of subject lines work? Hard sell or subtle and informative? The only real way of knowing the answers to all of these questions is by carrying out A/B testing on your business website. That is, making two versions of a single website or more commonly two versions of different elements, A and B, then find out which version of the website is better by the use of various analytics that determine success.

The following are some other questions to ponder on;

  • What days of the week gets you better open rates?
  • What time of day works best for your promotional activities?
  • What time of day works best for your newsletter campaigns?
  • What subject line style works best?
  • Should a subject line include a company name or not?
  • Is it better to use your company’s name in the “From” line?

In A/B Split testing, the difference between the two web pages can range from something as minute as a different color to as large as the layout being entirely different to the original one.

Some common examples of A/B split testing include:

  • It tests two offers or promotions to see which one is the most desired by the viewer.
  • Testing two different color schemes.
  • Testing two different layouts, which means, one column vs. two column.
  • Does “buy now” work better than “add to cart”?
  • Does this image help conversion rates or does this one?

A/B Testing vs. Multivariate Testing

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Many people seem to get confused about the terms A/B testing and multivariate testing. While MVT or multivariate testing is pretty much the same as A/B testing, it uses more variables as compared to A/B testing. In A/B testing traffic is split amongst two or more completely different versions of a single webpage, such as, the landing page and the home page, etc. In the multivariate test, one can identify the key areas of a webpage and is then able to create different variations for those sections specifically, as opposed to creating different variations of the whole webpage like in an A/B split test.

While A/B testing is mostly used for testing various different ideas for the best conversion rate optimization, multivariate testing, on the other hand, is used for the optimization and refinement of the existing pages, landing page or homepage, without carrying out any significant redesigns.

In other words, when you perform a multivariate test, you are not testing a different version of a particular web page like you would with an A/B test, but rather, you are performing a far more subtle test of the elements within a single web page.

It is naive to think that A/B testing and MVT testing are two opposites. Instead both are powerful optimization tools which complement one another.

What are Heat-Maps?

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As mentioned earlier, heat maps are used by online marketers for data exploration and analysis to aid conversion and engagement rates. A good heat map is able to utilize a color scale in order to impart information on how a wide range of values compare to each other. While Google Analytics is able to give you a lot of traffic information, it cannot really tell you why your visitors leave your website. A/B testing and heat maps on the other hand, not only offers this information, but can also suggest where you should place links, ads, and more for it to perform better by using heatmaps that show the concentration of where the users clicked most or even where their eyes lingered longest on the website page.

In short, a visual heat-map of where your visitors click the most on your webpage is not only a stunning way of looking at your traffic activities, but can also give you a view of your business website that you just couldn’t get anywhere else. Thanks to A/B testing and heat maps, with one simple glance, you can immediately get an impression of what you have done right on your website and where your website could use some improvements in order to increase your return on investment (improve conversion rates).

With the growing competitiveness of online businesses, using heat maps to improve your conversions is as important as the design of the entire webpage itself. In a nutshell, a heat-map is a method of reporting where visitors have clicked, looked, and scrolled or otherwise interacted with your website.

How to Improve Your A/B Testing?

There is no doubt that A/B testing can be effectively used to improve conversion rates. But, that being said, it’s not as simple as it looks. The following are some of the ways in which you can make sure that you get the most out of A/B testing.

Kick Ass Online Advertising Conversion SecretsCarry Out One Change at a Time

When you’re beginning an A/B test, always establish a control and baseline for all of your testing and monitor its performance over a pre-established period of time.

Clicks Don’t Exist in a Vacuum

The bottom line is that customers participate in different ways in your website, whether you plan it or not. What this means is that each page exists in the context of what the visitors saw in the previous page. When conducting an A/B test, consider all the various scenarios. Often times, a single change to an element affects the test page results. A page with a call-to-action form with high abandonment may not actually have a problem. Consider the page visitors viewed prior to the test page as that could be at fault and might need modification.

Small Changes Make Big Differences

Never assume that a subtle change will bring subtle results. The day of the week, a font, or a color palette shift can all dramatically affect you’re A/B test results. So, don’t take any of them lightly.

Testing Two Very Different Creatives

Testing two significantly different offers or two significantly different creative efforts is a big mistake and cannot be called an A/B test, because there’s no way of determining which effort was optimized to perform better on which audience segment.

The Tests that Matter

“Buy Now” vs. “Free Trial”

You already know free trials convert better than a single option forcing people to buy now. But do you know by how much? Think double digit percentages.

Credit Card vs. No Credit Card

All free trials are not equal. Some require a credit card upfront to start the free trial while others do not. By dropping the credit card requirement upfront you will find that you are able to increase your front-end signups by over 50%. Now that’s a lot!

“Red” vs. “Green”


Button color matters, in fact, the debate of which button looks best has been around forever in the world of online conversion. Fortunately for you, button color tests are easy to run in A/B testing.


While green connotes ideas, such as, nature and location, it is widely used in traffic lights, where it suggests the idea of “Go” or “Moving forward.” Another thing is that the green colored button fits better into a web pages design. Apart from that, the color green is also widely used at the moment, being the chosen hue of many web 2.0 websites.


On the other hand, the color red is mostly thought to communicate excitement or passion, it is also used to portray warning in some situations, which is the reason why it’s commonly used  as the color for “Stopping” in traffic lights. Since red is known to be eye-catching and to put across the idea of danger, red in general is not used as a button color as often as green. The bottom line is that the red button outperformed the green button by nearly 20% in most of the A/B tests.

“Add to Cart” or “Buy Now”

We all know that the location of an offline business is everything, the same holds true for online businesses, when it comes to their ‘call-to-action’ buttons. It really doesn’t matter what the call to action button looks like, but rather where you place, it. For instance, call-to-action button when placed above the video or on top of a webpage received more clicks than those which were placed below videos or at the bottom of the page.

So, Which A/B Testing Tool should You Use?

If A/B testing has piqued your interest,  you should speak with FX Digital, we utilize some of the best and most advanced tools on the market, and we are experts at interpreting the results and implementing changes to help increase your websites conversion rates, we can even offer you a free trial of our Heatmap software if you catch our attention.

FX Digital AB Split Testing

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FX Digitals AB Split Testing is an A/B testing online tool which offers a simple visual editor that makes each element on every page editable. This A/B testing tool can be directly integrated in to the Website site, allowing the website administrator / user to quickly and easily create various different versions of the buttons, content blocks, forms and headlines of a single web page.

Advanced Heat Maps

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Advanced Heat Maps gives an online visual representation of your websites visitors’ actions, you can see:

  • Mouse Clicks on your page.
  • Eye Tracking information
  • See how far down a page people scroll
  • Live In-depth Statistics
  • Video Session recording

This is an extremely powerful tool, that is easy to use and understand and which can help improve your websites return on investment or conversion rates.

Bottom Line

When you really come to think of it, Heat Maps are a great complement to your monthly analytics. A/B testing is really a no-brainer, you make two versions of a single webpage, and then you split traffic between those versions and choose the one which produces the maximum conversions. That’s it!

Do You Currently Advertise Online?

Many, many business owners utilize some form of online advertising, this generally means that you are using Google Adwords to drive people to your website. If you are doing this and not using A/B Split Testing and Heatmaps to increase conversion rates, you are literally throwing money away, now imagine increasing your conversion rate by 1, 2, 5 or more percent, what difference would this make? This is what Heatmaps and A/B Split Testing bring to the table, can you afford not to use them.

Need Help

If you would like to speak to me about how we can help improve your websites conversion rates, please contact me and I’ll get you to answer a few questions and we can go from there.

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I've been designing and marketing websites and businesses for over 24 years and prior to this I worked in sales, marketing and big business for almost 18 years... which makes me not only old, but also highly experienced at this marketing and Internet stuff.  I've won lots of awards and helped thousands of people, and this website is a testament to the information I share freely to help others succeed online.

When I'm not designing websites, doing this online marketing stuff or writing. I love nothing more than getting out on a weekend and scuba diving. I'm a qualified rescue diver and love getting wet in the waters around Perth and Rottenest Island. I also cycle, which must be a sight as I'm not the thinnest of people (lol)... and a paddle on a kayak or a swim helps makes most weeks, perfect. At home I have a marine reef tank, which I just love and on top of that I've an awesome dog, called Ziggy.

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