Sentient Tests for the Best: 5 Benefits of Our User-Based Testing

How do big tech companies like Facebook and Instagram create groundbreaking software products? By testing of course! Products reach their prime by a process of testing, retesting, and implementation of the best features for the most enjoyable user experience. Similarly, in the world of ecommerce and online retail, websites can also be optimized through testing for the best and most user-friendly experiences, increasing the number of conversions and boosting revenue. User-based testing in particular is the core to improving websites for their most optimal performance targeted towards a particular audience. Sentient Ascend’s AI-powered multivariate testing platform makes the most of user-based testing to find out which ideas work best for a company’s specific website and user demographic.

What is user-based testing?

User-based testing is the act of testing a product feature or element by releasing it to a certain number of existing users to understand its impact. In traditional testing, companies like Apple would pay to have participants try out the new features of their product before they released it to the public. Nowadays, in the world of software applications and websites, companies will conduct user-based testing tactics–releasing feature changes to a certain number of existing users and seeing whether or not the users are more or less engaged because of this addition. Unbeknownst to the user, who thinks everyone has received the same feature change, he or she is an active participant in that company’s user-based study. It makes sense–the person is already an active user, and therefore representative of the company’s key demographic. Hence, the data collected from their response is the most relevant to the company’s testing goals. User-based testing is a great way to test whether or not a feature is truly effective before mass implementation.

Why is testing so important?

Testing is the basis of science and scientific research which has enabled humankind’s technological progress. What differentiates successful tech companies like Google and Facebook is their ability to effectively test their hypotheses and discover the elements or features that sets their products apart from the rest.

For websites looking to increase their conversions, testing the different elements on their website such as Call to Action buttons, page layout, trust symbols, site-wide banner copy, and hero images can make a substantial difference in conversion rates, and therefore revenue. For instance, changing around the Call to Action button’s size, color, copy, and placement–eg. putting the Call to Action “BUY NOW” button on the product details page versus the homepage, could make the difference between a customer clicking through and buying the item versus leaving the journey and abandoning their potential purchase. Hence, it is essential for companies to test each hypothesis and find out which elements are more conducive to website conversions.

Why AI-based testing makes sense:

Effective testing is a huge factor in success, however, it is no walk in the park. Testing is laborious, especially when done correctly. Big companies like Facebook, Google, and Apple employ hundreds of employees dedicated to research in their company. And within these teams, they have further subdivisions that focus on minute details of the product such as web properties or design. Not all companies have the budget and human resources for sophisticated, large scale testing. It’s expensive and employing tens to hundreds of employees may not be an option. This is where sophisticated AI-powered conversion optimization tools like Sentient Ascend can make a killing for companies.  An automated AI-based solution like Sentient Ascend can help all kinds of companies–big and small– benefit from testing. Sentient Ascend works alongside in-house testing teams and already-existing processes to enhance the benefits of testing.

Sentient Ascend uses AI to sort through and find the winning combination of ideas

Sentient Ascend is a massively multivariate testing solution, which means it can test multiple elements at the same time and find the best combination within that pool of ideas and hypothesis. This differs from traditional A/B testing, which only allows two elements to be tested at a time and can take weeks, sometimes even months to complete. Multivariate testing is much faster and more effective than A/B testing. And in the case of Sentient Ascend’s “massively” multivariate testing solution, it takes into account all ideas and then finds the best combination of those ideas for the highest conversions–doing in 1 month what traditional A/B testing would achieve in 5 months.

How does it work? Customers can choose what they want to test on their website—copy, layout, image, design, color, interaction, and more—enter in as many variants of each as they’d like, and then test them all simultaneously until the platform finds the best combination. Ascend tests individual changes and determines the winners, then automatically combines winners into a new test, determines that winner, and continues until it has evolved to the best-performing design. As you see which of your changes are driving uplift, you can add more ideas to test, and Ascend will incorporate these ideas and find the new best-performing design. It’s like evolution and natural selection, but applied to website design and conversion optimization.

Five Ways User-Based Testing Benefits Conversion Optimization

1. Companies can learn more about what their key user demographic responds to

As the name suggests, user-based testing is all about finding out what the user–specifically, YOUR user, likes, dislikes, and responds to in real life situations. Platforms like Sentient Ascend allow companies to test a variety of ideas by using them on their existing user base. As with the experiments run by Facebook, in which a portion of active users are given versions of the app with new features to test if they are successful, Ascend sorts design ideas into different combinations and directs the website’s existing traffic to those website versions. It then can collect data in real time about which features are more or less successful in terms of increasing conversions. And, with the help of Ascend’s AI-powered evolutionary algorithms, it can feed more traffic to the versions of the website that prove to be more conducive to conversions–the “winners”–and discard the “losers”. Ascend uses your users, your audience, and your product in a real situations. It doesn’t get more relevant and applicable than that–real life data speaks louder than speculation.

2. Companies can collect data in real time about which features are the most effective

User-based testing allows companies to test their features and collect data on their users in real time. Whereas focus groups can only estimate what a given demographic will like and respond to, real time testing allows companies to observe the actions and responses of their already existing user base. Did they like the red button more than the green? Was the CTA button better placed on the home page or in the messaging section? Is it better to have bigger or smaller font? All of these questions for design hypothesis are best tested with real time users rather than focus groups, which can only speculate what will or will not be effective within your product. Wouldn’t it be great to know specifically what YOUR user demographic wants and responds to? Stop depending on marketing hearsay, find out through real time trial and error what works for your users.

3. Companies can react to that data in real time, to optimize for conversions

User-based testing provides for real time optimization, ie making design or functional changes in real time based on immediate user feedback. In the world of website conversion optimization testing, the variables that make a website perform well–economic factors, shopping trends, seasonal fluctuations, etc. change daily and it is essential to react to these fluctuations in real time in order to achieve maximum revenue. For instance, when conducting a website optimization test,  if it is clear that more users are currently responding to a yellow CTA button versus a red button it’s important to immediately adjust to this discovery and shift the traffic towards the website version with the yellow CTA button in order to optimize for the most conversions. Being able to react to this kind of data in real time provides for the most optimal results–increasing conversions and preventing the loss of precious time and revenue.

4. Companies can test a wide range of ideas

One of the best things about user-based multivariate testing, is that companies can test out a large range of ideas and find the most optimal combination based on user feedback. Without testing platforms like Sentient Ascend, ideas can be tossed around, lost, or de-prioritized based on human fallacies like office politics and disorganized team structure. Perhaps one idea is prioritized over another due to someone more senior in management suggesting it. Or perhaps there are so many ideas but no process of organizing or collecting those ideas, which results in them getting lost in the shuffle. The only true way to weigh one idea over the other is by scientifically testing the ideas and systematically weeding out lower performing combinations while evolving the winning combinations. Have some ideas on how to improve your website? Why not test them all to figure out which actually works for your specific audience? Trust in AI to help choose the winners quicker and more effectively than humans can.

5. Companies can produce the best and most effective version of their product or website

User-based testing enables companies to find the most optimal solution for their conversion goals and present the best version of their website to their specific customer demographic. Perhaps customers prefer a red CTA button to a blue, or large font to small font on the hero image copy. Perhaps having a banner photo of urban views versus nature scenery works better to set the mood for customers in larger cities to want to click and convert. You’ll never quite know what works for your website and your customers until you test it in real time and real situations. Why not cut your losses, save some time, and let AI technologies do the heavy lifting for you?

Sentient Ascend is proud to usher in the new era of scientific testing in the world of conversion optimization

Testing different elements within your website or product is the best way to improve it for the highest conversions and for better engagement. Companies invest enormous amounts of resources in testing their websites in real time to make sure their users are happy, engaged, and more likely to convert. However, for companies who prefer to embrace technology for innovation and efficiency purposes, Sentient Ascend can offer the same results as an in-house testing team–often for less money and in less time. Sentient is a large proponent of user-based testing in all industries, most specifically in conversion optimization solutions. Sentient Ascend has already helped a number of companies such as Clicksco, TWEC, and Cosabella find their most optimal website design and substantially increase conversions. Ascend helps companies test for the best. Are you ready to test yours?

Article written by Cristina McComic, with collaboration from Ryan Rapp, Staff Software Engineer for Sentient Ascend

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