Trends & Insights
A/B testing for app marketing to boost your ROI
March 27, 2023
Dana Kang

As a marketer, you already know that creating a successful campaign requires more than just a great idea. You need to ensure that your campaign is reaching the right audience and providing them with the best possible user experience.

That's where A/B testing comes in. A/B testing can be a powerful tool for improving your marketing performance, and ultimately, your bottom line. And who doesn't love more money?

Read on to learn what A/B testing is and why it is important in app marketing. We'll also go over some use cases and best practices. By the end, you'll have a solid understanding of A/B testing and how to use it to optimize your marketing efforts. Let's get started!

What is A/B testing?

A/B testing, also known as split testing, is a method of comparing two versions of the same asset to determine which one performs better. By playing with variations, you can identify the creative, message, or user flow that best resonates with your target audience.

To conduct an A/B test, divide your users into two randomized groups and show Version A and Version B of your campaign to each group. Next, measure the performance using relevant metrics such as click-through rate or engagement rate. The version that generates more desired results would be considered more effective and thus adopted in future campaigns.

The process of A/B testing is typically iterative, with marketers continuously refining and improving their campaigns based on the results of each test.

Why is A/B testing an app marketing essential?

The importance of experimentation

A/B testing and other forms of experimentation allow marketers to make data-driven decisions about what changes to make, rather than relying on gut feelings or assumptions. They provide a way to isolate and measure the causal impact of different marketing variables on business outcomes.

Revealing causal relationships is the first step to encouraging specific user responses. For example, suppose you notice that users who interact with your ads across two or more channels also tend to show a higher retention rate. While this correlation is interesting, it does not necessarily mean increasing touchpoints would make users stay longer on the app. There may be a third variable that is driving both behaviors. Hence, to avoid misjudgment, draw a causal inference. And to draw a causal inference, test and experiment.

A/B testing can be your go-to guy

Still, you might be concerned about the time, money, and labor required. The good news is that A/B testing can provide valuable insights at a low cost, within a short timeframe, and with relatively easy implementation.

By focusing on just two variations of a marketing campaign, A/B testing allows marketers to get a sense of what works without investing significant resources. This makes it an ideal testing method for small businesses or startups that are operating on a tight budget.

Moreover, A/B testing is designed to be fast and efficient. In particular, when simply testing the color of a button or the text of a headline, it can take as little as a few minutes to set up the test. This is especially useful for those who need to make decisions quickly in this rapidly changing mobile marketing industry.

Finally, A/B testing is relatively easy to conduct, even for marketers with limited technical expertise. For instance, you can simply group your newsletter subscribers into two and send each of them an email at the same time, on the same topic, but with different subject lines. Then, you can compare the open rates to see which wording is more eye-catching. Many ad platforms also offer built-in A/B testing tools that allow marketers to test different ad variations quickly and easily.

How can you use A/B testing for app marketing?

A/B testing can be used for a wide range of marketing purposes, such as optimizing landing pages, testing ad copy or imagery, or experimenting with different email subject lines. In this section, we will take the example of MealFriend, an imaginary app for meal planning and grocery shopping.

Scenario #1: Organic user acquisition

Let's say you are interested in increasing conversion by optimizing the app's install page. You want to test different variations of the app's title and description to see which version generates more installs from organic search results.

Variation A is the original app install page that highlights MealFriend's core features: meal planning, grocery shopping, and personalized nutrition coaching. The page includes the app's original title "MealFriend - Meal Planning & Grocery Shopping" and a description that emphasizes the app's features and benefits.

Variation B is a new app install page that uses a different app title and description to highlight the app's unique value proposition. The new title is "Eat Better with MealFriend" and the description emphasizes the app's ability to help users discover new healthy recipes and simplify their grocery shopping experience.

The A/B test will measure the number of app installs and conversion rate of users who click "install" for each variation. The data will be analyzed to determine which version of the app install page attracts more users. Then, MealFriend can determine the most compelling message to attract and convert potential users.

Scenario #2: Paid user acquisition

To improve the effectiveness of its paid ad campaigns, MealFriend wants to test two different ad creatives.

Variation A showcases MealFriend's meal planning and personalized nutrition coaching features. The ad includes a catchy headline, a photo of a healthy meal, and a simple call-to-action that encourages users to install the app, saying “Install Now.”

Variation B introduces the same features of the app, but aims to deliver a trustworthy brand image. This time, the ad includes a headline with some stats, a picture of a female dietician in her white coat, and a call-to-action that reads “Get Your Meals Planned by an Expert.”

The A/B test will measure the click-through rate and conversion rate of each variation, and MealFriend will see which one is better at driving installs. The app can also test whether it is more effective to display discount information, include emojis in headlines, etc.

Scenario #3: User retention

To reduce churn, MealFriend wants to revise its push notification strategy.

The original push notification strategy sends users a daily meal plan, shopping list, and personalized nutrition tips. The push includes an attractive image of a healthy meal, a short description of the meal plan, and a call-to-action that encourages users to open the app and start cooking.

A new push notification strategy sends users a weekly recipe collection based on their dietary preferences and restrictions. The push includes an image that showcases multiple recipes, a short description of the recipe collection, and a call-to-action that encourages users to browse the recipes and add them to their meal plans.

The A/B test will measure the open rate, click-through rate, and conversion rate of each push notification variation. This way, MealFriend can figure out how to increase user satisfaction.

Finally, here are some pro tips for you…

A/B testing is a marketing technique popular among app marketers across different verticals. Obviously, anyone can conduct an A/B test, but not everyone can do it well. This is why we are wrapping up this blog post with some best practices that you should follow.

1. Drill down on what you really want to know

Before starting an A/B test, it's important to define clear goals and metrics for success. For example, the goal might be to increase app downloads, improve user engagement, or boost conversions.

2. Don't be greedy: Test one variable at a time

To accurately measure the impact of a particular variable, it's important only to test one at a time. For example, if testing the impact of different headlines on app downloads, only change the headline and keep all other elements of the page or ad the same.

3. Use a large enough sample size

To ensure that the results of the A/B test are statistically significant, you need to have a decently large sample size. As a general rule of thumb, a sample size of at least 100 conversions per variation A and B is recommended to achieve statistically significant results with reasonable confidence. If you are not sure, use A/B test sample size calculator provided by various marketing analytics platforms. This will help reduce the margin of error and increase the accuracy of the results.

4. Make A/B testing a regular habit

A/B testing should be an ongoing process, with marketers testing new variations and refining their campaigns regularly to ensure continued success. Moreover, user preferences and behavior are constantly changing. Be steady with your tests to meet the evolving needs of your audience.

In sum, A/B testing is an essential tool for app marketers who want to optimize their campaigns and achieve success. By comparing two versions of the same asset, A/B testing allows you to isolate and measure the causal impact of different marketing variables on business outcomes.

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Dana Kang
Product Marketing Manager
Dana is Airbridge’s Product Marketing Manager. Responsible for Airbridge’s blog, social media, and newsletter, she is passionate about building brand visibility through data-driven content.
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