How to Choose an A/B Testing Agency: Essential Tips for Ecommerce Brands

Did you know the average conversion rate for Shopify ecommerce sites is 1.3%? This means that even the most engaging ecommerce sites see a vast majority of potential customers leave without making a purchase. 

A/B testing and conversion rate optimization (CRO) can help you improve your bottom line—but be cautious as you search for an A/B testing agency to work with. Many swear by testing and optimization “best practices,” but you’ll only get your money’s worth with an ecommerce A/B testing agency that relies on data to craft custom A/B tests and strategies. 

Keep reading to learn why best practices aren’t always best, plus what to look for when choosing an A/B testing agency to partner with.

The value of a professional A/B testing agency

There’s a widespread misconception that you can simply implement A/B tests based on “best practices” and see improvements. Unfortunately, best practices tend to be too generic to result in anything but occasional improvements. They often lack the depth of research that makes comprehensive A/B testing strategies so impactful. 

Think of it like this: Your competitors won the conversion rate lottery with their A/B test results. Naturally, you hope to win big too, so you pick the same lottery numbers—or A/B tests—your competitors used. You’ll need a whole lot of luck to win the same lottery with the same numbers.

Not to mention there are only so many A/B tests you can run at the same time or over a year, so why not make sure the tests you do run are the tests with the most potential to create the most value for your business?

So if you’re testing without a strategy that’s specific to your company, you may want to reconsider testing entirely. 

However, a true A/B testing agency goes beyond superficial tactics (like testing call-to-action button colors) and instead employs data-driven strategies that identify optimization opportunities that are unique and specific to your website. Data-driven A/B testing and CRO can have profound impacts on your ecommerce KPIs. 

For example, here at SplitBase we used research data to develop landing page A/B tests for DIFF Eyewear. This involved:

  • Digging into the brand’s Google Analytics
  • Auditing the website
  • Assessing heatmaps, click maps, and scroll maps
  • Conducting exit surveys
  • Sharing surveys with existing customers
  • Running usability tests

This legwork informed SplitBase’s A/B testing hypothesis and how we designed the landing page variations we wanted to test. And the hard work paid off: DIFF Eyewear saw a 55% increase in conversions.

The importance of data-driven methodologies

A true A/B testing process relies on both quantitative and qualitative data to craft hypotheses tailored to the specific needs and nuances of your customers and your website. Here’s how each type of data provides essential insights in the testing process:

Quantitative data maps potential pain points

Quantitative data identifies what’s happening on your website, such as a large number of potential customers abandoning their carts or only a few website visitors signing up for your newsletter. A/B testing often uses quantitative data like:

  • Web analytics: Tools like Google Analytics provide data on user behavior patterns, traffic sources, and landing page performance.
  • Heatmaps and session recordings: Heatmaps and recordings, which are visual representations of user interactions with your site, reveal where visitors click, scroll, and encounter friction.
  • Conversion funnel analysis: By tracking your conversion funnels, you can identify stages of the buyer’s journey where users drop off, and then take steps to optimize the funnel.

Quantitative data can also help you identify which pages would benefit most from A/B testing. For example, if you want to improve conversion rates, it makes more sense to run an A/B test on a landing page that gets 5,000 visitors per month instead of one that gets only 500 visitors per month.

However, quantitative data struggles to explain why these events happen; this is where qualitative data delivers essential context.

In other words, analytics gives you numbers, but your customers use a mix of logic and emotions to make purchase decisions—and these aren’t quantifiable through analytics.

Qualitative data reveals the “why”

Qualitative data rounds out the numbers by revealing the human context behind certain website interactions. This context is essential for narrowing down your testing strategy to pinpoint and test variations that are most likely to have the biggest positive impact.

Qualitative data often includes the following:

  • Surveys: The best way to understand why visitors don’t convert is to ask. Surveys do just that—and you can also ask existing customers what they find most appealing about your site or product.
  • Usability tests: These involve observing real users interacting with your website to complete specific tasks. This data can reveal friction points, user experience and functionality issues, and areas of confusion that might diminish your ecommerce metrics.
  • User interviews: Similar to surveys, in-depth interviews involve discussing potential pain points, expectations, and unmet needs with a select few users. 

By combining quantitative and qualitative data, an A/B testing agency can develop actionable hypotheses that have a well-defined potential impact. 

For example, let’s say your quantitative data reveals a product page with a high bounce rate. The agency’s research finds that visitors are confused by the current product descriptions.

Based on this data, the agency might A/B test different versions of the product page—the original and a new version with clarified product descriptions—to see which variant reduces the bounce rate.

7 qualities to look for in an A/B testing agency

1. Expertise beyond A/B testing tools

A/B testing software like VWO and Google Optimize are great, but at the end of the day, they’re just tools. How you use them is what determines whether you see a positive impact on your metrics—or not.

A good A/B testing agency is not only adept at using testing tools but also possesses a deep understanding of the research and data required to effectively implement CRO strategies. 

2. An experienced, well-rounded team

Check to see whether the agency’s team has well-rounded expertise in research and analysis as well as multiple types of testing, including A/B or split testing and multivariate testing. Additionally, ask whether it has access to designers and developers.

For example, SplitBase’s in-house team isn’t limited to researchers and CRO strategists. We also hire expert designers and developers who are ready to build features and web pages that enhance your brand’s customer experience. 

Additionally, we have a QA team that continuously monitors all A/B tests to ensure they run smoothly. Tests are often prone to breaking, and quickly catching and fixing a broken test is critical for maintaining a positive customer experience as well as gathering usable data from your test results.

3. A strong understanding of ecommerce best practices

You own an ecommerce brand, so it makes sense to partner with an A/B testing agency that specializes in CRO for ecommerce websites, ecommerce landing pages, and understands the nuances of the industry—including the four stages of the buying journey. A familiarity with commonly used ecommerce tools and landing page builders is also a must in order to build A/B tests that work seamlessly with your site.

4. Data-driven methodologies

On its own, A/B testing can’t directly influence your conversion rates, but what you test can help you pinpoint a strategy for improving your average order value, cart abandonment rate, and other metrics. 

Simply put, A/B testing isn’t a magic wand that improves conversions. It’s one part of a CRO toolkit that, along with data-driven strategies, improves vital ecommerce metrics.

5. Collaborative communication and transparency

Transparent communication is essential for any type of partnership. Ideally, your chosen agency should actively collaborate with you and seek to understand your brand’s unique vision and needs. It should also readily share process details and updates to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

6. A proven track record

Past performance isn’t necessarily a guarantee of future results, but it can offer valuable insights into an A/B testing agency’s capabilities.

Look for case studies that showcase how the agency successfully achieved goals similar to yours for clients in your industry. Ask the agency about the specific methodologies it used to achieve those results. This gives you an idea of what that process might look like for your brand.

7. A commitment to reliable results

Statistically significant A/B test results are essential to avoid misleading conclusions.

A qualified agency understands the importance of sample size and statistical significance for drawing accurate conclusions. Additionally, it should understand the importance of running tests for an ideal length of time to avoid validity threats and other potential issues that could skew results.

How to evaluate an A/B testing agency

While you look for the key qualities of a professional A/B testing agency, you should also consider its track record and how well its pricing structure matches your budget.

Case studies and past successes

It’s crucial to approach case studies and customer testimonials with a critical eye to avoid potentially misleading information. 

Consider the specific challenges and context of each success story. Ask if the agency can provide more details that can help you gain a clearer picture of its capabilities. Additionally, reach out to other brands who worked with the agency in the past to get their unedited take on communication, research, and results.

Budget and cost considerations

Effective A/B testing and CRO require an investment—and it’s important to view this as an investment in growth, not just an expense. The long-term benefits and potential ROI of A/B testing and conversion optimization often far outweigh your initial investment.

While cost is a factor, prioritize delivered value. That said, avoid agencies that charge based on percent lift. Why? Because it’s almost impossible to measure the exact lift you get from a test.

For example, if you run a test for three more days, the lift likely changes. If you run the same test a second time, it’s likely you won’t see the exact same lift again. Not to mention that stock levels, social media algorithm updates, marketing campaigns, and more can decrease or increase conversions, too.

Instead, look for an agency with transparent pricing that’s willing to work within your budget.

Choose SplitBase as your A/B testing partner

Gaining maximum value requires partnering with an A/B testing agency that goes beyond generic tactics and prioritizes data-driven strategies. Additionally, shared values, a collaborative approach, and a deep understanding of your brand’s unique needs go a long way toward unlocking significant ecommerce growth.

The best A/B testing agency not only has tools at its disposal but also views itself as a partner in your success. This means it’s willing to dedicate resources and expertise to track down the necessary data to develop hypotheses tailored to your specific brand and site.

At SplitBase, we use analytics and customer research to uncover your biggest growth opportunities and inform our A/B testing strategies. Find out why we’re a long-term A/B testing agency partner for multiple ecommerce brands and get a detailed, free CRO proposal today.