3 A/B Testing Stages That Push Prospects Down the Marketing Funnel

by Fahad Muhammad in A/B Split Testing

Many salespeople have operated by the mantra “ABC: Always Be Closing.” Marketers like you and I operate by a mantra of our own, “ABT: Always Be Testing.”

The “always” in the ABT mantra implies that testing shouldn’t be restricted to your “customer attraction” process. Instead, it should follow down the rest of the marketing funnel.  

A/B testing provides you with an efficient way of determining which variation of your marketing message is giving you a higher ROI. This is a primary reason why A/B testing has become so popular with each passing year, and its popularity is only expected to trend upward:

It doesn’t matter what stage your prospect is at in the marketing funnel. A/B split testing every offer or message that you send your potential customers is crucial to get more leads — or score more sales — depending on your buyer’s position in the funnel.

But first…

What is a marketing funnel?

A marketing funnel is a map of your potential customer’s digital marketing journey. How is it that you’re going to take him or her from point A to point B and keep them engaged all the way?

HubSpot says typical buyers go through the following three basic stages before committing to the purchase:  

This graphic shows the 3 buyer's journey stages and how A/B testing can maximize your ROI.

  1. Awareness Stage: Buyers are experiencing some problem and doing research to solve this problem.
  2. Consideration Stage: Buyers are considering different solutions to alleviate their problem.
  3. Decision stage: After making a list of prospective solutions, buyers eventually decide on the solution that suits them the best.

To guide the buyer through the stages, marketers create the logical steps to market to them. This is what shapes the digital marketing journey of the buyer.

A digital marketing journey consists of these 3 basic stages:

  1. Attraction: This is the stage of awareness, a chance for you to connect with your potential customers, and you do that through low-cost channels.  
  2. Retargeting: Cookies or tracking pixels allow your ads to follow your visitors when they surf the web — who have not yet converted on your post-click landing page forms.
  3. Conversion: Your display and text ads should lead your visitors to a targeted post-click landing page. As soon as they arrive on the post-click landing page they should see the connection between what they wanted and what you promised to offer them.

Now let’s factor in how to A/B split test at each stage of the funnel by taking into account the marketing messages you send out at every stage.

A/B testing at the Attraction Stage

At this stage, you’re attempting to “woo” customers, which is done with low-cost channels. Promoting and sponsoring content on social media gives you the opportunity to highly target your audience by demographic, interests, behavior, hashtags, and product preferences.

With social media ads, you get to cast a wider net and the opportunity to turn potential customers into real customers.

Social media advertising can provide advertisers greater reach while experiencing higher click-through rates. Promoted tweets have shown promising results as well — higher than normal engagement rates that average between 1-3%.

This is how a promoted tweet looks:

This picture shows how A/B testing a promoted tweet can increase post-click landing page conversions.

Facebook allows you to A/B test to determine which of your ad variations is performing the best for your conversion goals.

This is how you perform testing on Facebook:

“Keeping all targeting consistent within a campaign and testing one single piece of the ad component (header, body copy or image). Alternatively, you could keep all ad components the same within one campaign while testing the target audience (age, gender or interest testing). Facebook will automatically begin to optimize the ad that has the best performance within each campaign, so maintaining this organization makes reporting and determining success much easier. “     

For example, Post Planner published an add with this variation:

This picture shows how A/B testing a Facebook post can increase customer engagement.

Then, with variation B, they changed the post’s description to include more emotion and curiosity:

This picture shows how A/B testing a Facebook post variation can increase post-click landing page conversions.

You can test the CTA button or the image that you’re using on the ad. Whichever variation enjoys the higher click-through rate is the winner and should be used for the ad.

A/B testing at the Retargeting (Remarketing) Stage:

Retargeting helps the visitor become more familiar with your brand and eventually click on your ad when they’re ready. You can start with display ads, but make sure you keep your ads benefit-focused so that your visitors have a strong incentive to click on the CTA.

Here is how Optimizely uses a retargeting ad for their virtual courses:

This picture shows how A/B testing a retarget ad can increase post-click landing page conversions.

One of the main customer acquisition channels for TreeHouse, a web design coding company, is remarketing. When they tested the color of their display ads with the CTA button, it didn’t have a big impact on the cost per acquisition.

However when they tested the word “Free,” they reduced their CPA, from $60 to $43 per customer sign-up:

This picture shows how A/B testing the word "free" can increase click-throughs on ads.

A/B Testing at the Conversion Stage:

All post-click landing pages should have message match and a 1:1 conversion ratio. Your page has message match when your ad headline aligns with your post-click landing page headline. Conversion ratio is the ratio of clickable elements on your post-click landing page to the number of your page goals. Since post-click landing pages should only have one goal, they should have only one clickable element — the CTA button.

When A/B split testing your post-click landing pages, you have a lot of testing options, including but not limited to:

  • Long headline vs. short headline
  • Graphics vs. photography
  • Static images vs. video
  • Video vs. gif
  • CTA button color
  • Lead capture form length
  • Customer testimonials

Instapage tested the overall layout of our webinar post-click landing page, with the winning variation generating a 129% increase in the webinar sign-up rate:

This picture shows how Instapage A/B tested its webinar post-click landing page increasing conversions by 129%.

Noah Kagan from AppSumo A/B tested their headline:

This picture shows how AppSumo A/B tested their post-click landing page headline to increase conversions.

Variation A was the winning variation, increasing course sales by 6.49%. Variation A’s headline is clearer than B because it puts a dollar value reward and is more intriguing than simply “making your first dollar.”

Just Rewards tested the design of their lead capture form:

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Variation B won with 16% more form completions.

Want more bang for your marketing buck? Start A/B testing throughout your marketing funnel and enjoy higher conversions.

Instapage allows for easy A/B testing, complete with an analytics dashboard. Sign up for an Instapage Enterprise demo today.

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Fahad Muhammad

by Fahad Muhammad

Fahad is a Content Writer at Instapage specializing in advertising platforms, industry trends, optimization best practices, marketing psychology, and SEO. He has been writing about landing pages, advertising trends, and personalization for 10+ years.

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