Every consumer visiting a website has a different experience. User experience is made up of a complex combination of factors, but healthcare marketers have a relatively simple tool at their disposal to help measure what efforts are working—A/B testing.

A/B testing involves running two almost identical variations of the same page to different segments of your audience to see how consumers interact with each page. The A/B test pages contain a difference that helps us understand how users navigate the site. Everything from the call-to-action (CTA) button to the header photo can give you information about what the intended audience prefers.

So, how does such a simple tool help? The varying factors, like what information healthcare consumers are seeking, their age and gender, what action they plan to take, and the tone of past experiences, play into what they need during a visit to the site. Since you want to give the consumer the most helpful and pleasant experience, you can approach this enormous challenge of user experience by testing one element at a time to see which is more engaging, which gets more attention, the time a user spends on page, clicks, etc.

Simple A/B Testing Options to Try
Options for A/B testing apply to almost any part of your site you'd like to test, including images, layout, and copy.

One of the quickest ways to begin A/B testing is with a call-to-action button. If you are opening registration for a flu clinic, test two identical pages. For test A, put the CTA in the top right corner; for test B, try placing it mid-page, near the instructions. Leave the pages up for a set time, then measure the results. Which CTA got the most clicks with follow through? Where did those users go and how long did they stay on the site? Using the results, tailor the page to appeal to a majority of future users.

Another excellent and easy A/B test is headlines. Headlines capture a consumer's attention quickly. No matter how fantastic the content, a drab headline won't invite users to click on a blog post or educational article. Try changing the headlines to see what works. Should you try “5 Ways to Ease Heartburn" or “Get Heartburn Relief with These Foods"? Only A/B testing can determine which version your users prefer. Very often, they will surprise you.

As you advance your A/B testing strategy, test multiple elements on the same page until you have a version that's as engaging as possible, BUT (and this is a big one), you should only test ONE element at a time. You might start A/B testing on two different graphs, for example, to find the one that is more appealing. Once you have solid data on which graph worked better, try to changing where it is placed on the page. From that point, you can see which caption content gets the results you want.

Measurable Results for Success
The fluidity of A/B testing makes it easy to use and measure. Always have a measurable goal in mind as you begin testing; you'll be able to see if the testing helped you meet your goals or if it contributed an unexpected and positive result.

The time it takes to get results from A/B testing depends on what you're testing on your site. When starting with a high-traffic area, measurable results come faster. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't A/B test slow traffic areas; improving those pages might help drive more users to those pages.

As another tool in the healthcare marketer's kit, A/B testing provides another way to gather useful information, and find what appeals to your dynamic user base.

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