The terms split testing, and A/B testing are often used interchangeably when describing the randomized experimentation process that digital marketers use to pit variables against one another.
In online web-based settings, these variables can be anything from specific page elements on a web page, to whole web pages, or landing pages, to marketing assets like sales copy, adverts, or Google Ad campaigns.
The idea behind split testing is to help you make data-backed decisions, eliminating the need to guess at which variable to use.
This, in turn, allows you to use the insights from these tests to find better success, as you now know which element will perform better for your business. But let’s dive into this a little more.
What Is Split Testing, and Is It Different From A/B Testing?
With a split test, you take a control version of one variable, say your website, and compare it to a completely different version of your website (a variation version). To do this, you use two different website addresses (URLs), and split any incoming traffic into two segments, sending one to the initial version, and the second to the variation version.
When dividing your traffic, you get the choice of how you want to go about it; for instance, you could segment by location, by device used, or even by the referring website.
What this allows you to do is calculate the performance of both versions of the website, using key performance indicators such as: conversion rate, bounce rate, or number of qualified leads (among others). Once the test is complete, you find out which version your target audience responds best too.
With A/B testing, you take your control version, say your website, and compare it to a variety of small, single changes of that control version, to see which performs best. With this kind of test, the website addresses (URLs) are the same, but you make one minor change to the second version (variation) to see if that individual change performs better.
Common elements that are tested are: pop ups, featured imageSos, copy, headlines, calls-to-action location, button coloring, and the number of fields on forms.
So, while both of these terms are used interchangeably and considered under the same umbrella by many, they are technically two different types of tests. To sum up, split testing is great for comparing page layouts, and overall designs, while A/B testing is great for seeing the impact of individual elements on a page.