Every healthcare marketer wants web visitors to convert from just visitors to prospective patients. A/B testing is a good tool for determining which variation of an online experience performs better to complete a conversion (e.g., scheduling an appointment online); thereby enabling marketers to make data-driven decisions about converting more health consumers into prospective patients.

Web tools have become more affordable and easier to use, making A/B testing (or split testing) more attainable. The rate at which healthcare organizations convert online visitors to qualified leads has become vital as getting quality web traffic becomes more difficult.

How to Get Started with A/B Testing for Your Hospital Website:
1. Examine your toolset: Is your existing content management system capable of A/B testing? If it isn’t, you must consider alternative tools or a change over to a platform that lets you develop such assessments quickly.

2. Study your website data: Use a web analytics tool (e.g., Google Analytics) and find problem areas in your conversion funnel. For example, identify the pages with the highest bounce rate.

3. Observe user behavior: Utilize visitor behavior analysis tools (e.g., CrazyEgg) and find what is stopping visitors from converting. For example, you can pinpoint issues with downloading a health guide, completing a health risk assessment or HRA, or scheduling an appointment online.

4. Develop baselines: By assessing existing data, you can produce a benchmarked scorecard to learn where you stand at the moment with regards to conversion funnel performance, site-wide performance, channel performance, customer segments, and the like.

5. Establish a hypothesis: Use your benchmark data and insights from visitor behavior to build a hypothesis aimed at increasing conversions. Your next step would be to focus on the layout improvements that you believe will be more effective than the setup you currently have. For example, “making call-to-action buttons more prominent on the home page would increase conversions.”

6. Create and implement a testing plan: After you have finished your research, isolated problem areas and what needs to be improved, you’ll need to create a core testing strategy. Your A/B testing strategy will help you decide what to prioritize and help you concentrate on the most feasible direction.

o Design tests
 Length of time – What is the test duration?
 Objective – What should be increased?
 Traffic percentage – What percentage of traffic is being tested?
 Targeting – Who is being targeted during the test?
 Creative – What are the creative elements you’ll test?

o Develop at least one variation of that page or page element you are testing. To make it easier to manage, make sure each variation contains only a single modification.

o Segment incoming traffic between the original page and all other variations.

o Perform the test for as long as required to obtain statistical data.

7. Track tests: Track initial data to ensure everything is operating as it should. During the entire testing duration, you should periodically run quality assurance tests to ensure everything is working as intended.

8. Assess the results of the test: Once you review the A/B testing results, the first thing you should assess is whether it produced positive, negative, or neutral results. Review different web traffic segments:

o Non-mobile versus mobile

o Different devices and browsers

o Different channels of traffic

o Returning versus new visitors

9. Use your findings: Use the data to guide changes needed to increase conversion rates and make calculated modifications to specific web pages as fast as you can.

10. Rinse and repeat: This simple process can be repeated on every valuable page on your hospital’s website.

Effective website optimization involves learning about the habits of your visitors. A/B testing is the simplest means to determine the best content to convert visitors into prospective patients. The ROI of A/B testing in healthcare can be massive, as even small changes on a website or landing page can result in significant increases in online appointment scheduling or more HRAs completed.

We encourage all healthcare organizations to integrate A/B testing into their marketing strategies in 2019 to continually produce concrete evidence of what is/isn’t working on their websites. To learn more about A/B testing, personalization and other tactical tips in implementing a new hospital website, download our Definitive Guide to Healthcare CMS.