Why A/B testing matters in modern digital marketing for attorneys

a/b testing for attorney websites

Specific split testing can boost attorney marketing for the greater good

A/B testing on webpages is an increasingly popular way to enhance the performance of digital assets and conversion rates in attorney marketing. Online A/B testing compares two “versions” (variant A and B) of a webpage, using alternate URLs or testing scripts, to see which one performs better among similar visitors at the same time.

The goal of A/B testing, also called split or bucket testing, is to test what your audiences need to convert from visitors into to a secured clients or legal cases. For example, even if your website gets a high number of hits, has a low bounce rate and boasts a fully integrated a social campaign, it’s still possible that you’re missing out on actual conversions. In A/B testing, the page that converts more visitors—or turns into greater realized revenue—wins out and should be used as a baseline going forward.

Law firms can leverage A/B testing to maximize existing traffic to a website section or landing page for a specific mass tort or area of law, for example. The methodology can pay off significantly because conversions are considered cheap when compared to acquiring paid traffic through web ads or competitive keywords. A/B testing dangles some very tempting return on investment, because even minor changes can generate a big spike in leads and “sales.”

There are plenty of examples of where making a minor tweak to copy, a call to action or the visual organization of a page can lead to a significant jump in conversions. In one example a Microsoft technology partner tried a simple A/B test at its website’s biggest conversion point: the verbiage on the button people needed to click on to get a quote. Veeam Software changed the phrase “Request a quote” to “Request pricing” and saw its conversion rate jump by over 160%.

On a legal website that “conversion point” could be related to online chat, a request-more-information form or a CTA on a landing page. If people aren’t taking the next step to talk to your attorneys, a basic A/B testing could be an effective way to trigger new business—without a massive investment.

 

Why aren’t more law firms A/B testing?

If you’re new to the concept of A/B testing you’re not alone. While huge social platforms such as Pinterest or brands like Apple do A/B testing regularly to see what’s going to engage people more online, most lawyers aren’t aware of the advantages of A/B testing. In fact, they’re happy if their websites are up to date.

The reason more lawyers haven’t tapped A/B testing is because it can seem overwhelming to institute and measure online experiments, especially with confusing factors such as seasonal spikes or unrelated site changes that lie outside of A/B controls. Split testing can also get complicated because of regular updates in search-ranking algorithms, including Google’s increasing dependence on artificial intelligence outcomes.

Likewise, the content management systems on which most legal websites are built can also be a barrier to A/B testing. Standard CMS often doesn’t include obvious capabilities to make test arbitrary groups of pages easily. It can also be challenging to gather the right information and understand how to analyze metrics that will lead to effective future digital strategies—without jumping to conclusions. Testing content and design changes to a page can require special codes or tools that most attorneys don’t have the in-house capability to install, manage or monitor.

The key to smart A/B testing that will yield true ROI is starting with good data and an isolated goal; employing an expert marketing crew and sustainable implementation strategies; and knowing how to identify real results and subsequent best practices to follow going forward. The easiest way we can cover these topics is by addressing some the most common questions our attorney marketing clients have when it comes to A/B testing.

 

What should I A/B test for?

Sometimes the answer to this is quite obvious. For example, your landing page about talcum powder lawsuits or a webpage where it should be easy to start an online chat about a car accident case isn’t yielding the results you’d expect. Other times, it’s not clear what’s not working, but you know your phone isn’t ringing and people aren’t engaging with your firm online or sharing your content.

What’s neat about A/B testing is it’s really wide open. You can test hunches that your content is off or the visual layout of a page is too cluttered for people to digest. This can include split testing on all kinds of elements, including headlines or sub headlines; body or paragraph text on a page; testimonials; a specific call to action; button text; live links; images; content at different places on the page; social triggers; media; and more. Advanced tests can compare different promotions, free trials, navigation orientation and other tweaks to the user experience on your law firm’s website.

 

Where do I start with my first A/B test?

The best way to institute your first A/B test sample is to start with your most pressing attorney marketing question. Why is our website’s bounce rate so much higher than the competition? Why are only a fraction of visitors chatting with our lawyers online? Why aren’t people sharing the informative content we write? Where’s the ROI on the landing page we launched? After you’ve pinpointed the question you want to answer, follow these steps:

  1. Use Google Analytics or other website metrics tools to understand the full picture of your current visitor behavior before you start an A/B test.
  2. Lean on your attorney marketing gurus to help you pinpoint a hypothesis that you can test easily, such as adding additional links to copy on certain pages or adding video to a landing page.
  3. Create a site-wide A/B test in which the variant page includes the changes in your hypothesis designed to achieve a specific goal.
  4. Analyze data via website tracking statistics. Are your specific identified issues (i.e., bounce rate, time on page, link clicks, shares, etc.) changing or improving?
  5. Act on your conclusions. When you’ve agreed that you’ve given an A/B test enough time to play out, have your marketing team draw conclusions and update your pages as needed. Then move on to the next test.

 

How long should we conduct an A/B test?

Every A/B test is different, so the timing will vary accordingly. For example, how quickly you see the effects of a change depends on the size of your website, how many pages you’re testing at once, the existing traffic on those pages and the scale of the shift you’re deploying. You could argue that an A/B test should last until you start to see any clear improvement against your control indicator.

If you’re willing to wait a bit to ensure that you’re not acting on premature data, especially for large-scale alterations, let the test settle a bit and dig into the data deeper so you can make an informed decision and prioritize types of A/B tests for the future.

 

Is it true that you can “cheat” on A/B testing?

Not so much anymore. Search engines like Google have cracked down on cheating your site and its content to get better rankings. People used to “stuff” their website content with hot keywords. Google now de-ranks sites for that. Likewise Google dings websites for “cloaking,” or showing a set of content to humans and a secret set to the Googlebot, even in A/B testing. Legal websites that try to get away with this practice will actually get demoted, which will only work against improving conversion rates.

 

What are some best practices when it comes to A/B testing?

A digital attorney-marketing agency can walk you through the smartest ways to accomplish your specific A/B testing goal, but in general there are some rules to follow to ensure that you get good results and make the process less intimidating. We’ve covered some of these above, but the most effective place to start is with concrete data, both qualitative and quantitative, about your audiences and their online behaviors. Keep design, branding and tests as simple as possible; research has shown that typically the most simple “variants” win out. Look at both text and visual elements when considering what to test. You can streamline content that may be turning visitors off, and you can play with the color, shape and size of everything from buttons to pictures.

But perhaps the most important practice to keep in mind when A/B testing is to focus on optimizing around ROI. Remember, more website traffic is great, but more conversions is what will ultimately lead to a swifter revenue stream.

At Network Affiliates, our goal is to help lawyers craft every word, every placement and every decision in the digital world with highly targeted, laser-like focus. Let our experts walk you through an A/B test that could boost business starting today. Call toll free: (888) 461-1016.

 

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