Why DTC Brands Need A/B Testing

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6 min readA/B Testing
by: John Surdakowski04/07/2021

Quick Summary As a DTC company, your brand is focused on making your customers happy. You’ve probably done the work to narrow down your target audience and refine your products to meet their needs. You may even have a website that looks good and gets sales. Still, there’s always an opportunity for improvement.


That’s what A/B testing is all about. Also called split testing, A/B testing compares two versions of something against each other to find out which works better. It’s a valuable tool to learn more about your customers instead of assuming you know what they want. 

The A/B testing process is simple. First, you decide what you want to improve: your email open rate, your sales numbers, or anything else that you can clearly measure. Then, you list out the variables you think might affect that number. For example, your email signup rate is probably influenced by the timing of the email signup pop-up, by that pop-up’s call to action, and the pages where it appears.

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Next, you make a hypothesis, or a guess as to what will improve your numbers. You might conclude that your call to action needs to be stronger. To test this, you come up with several versions of a new call to action, then show some people “Version A” and others “Version B” and record which one gets better results. 

Once you’ve tested the different versions, you can compare their results and find out what works best. While the process can take time, it’s one of the most useful tools DTC companies have. Here’s why your company will benefit from implementing A/B testing and how to start the process today.

How DTC Brands Benefit From A/B Testing

DTC brands like yours are unique. Most companies rely on third-party retailers to store and sell their products for them. That removes some of their control over their own sales and makes it hard to get direct customer feedback.

On the other hand, DTC companies have direct control over the website their customers use to make the purchase. Instead of relying on someone else’s information about purchases and customer habits, you can study your audience directly. With easy-to-use, powerful tools like the ones Privy offers, you can run an A/B test on just about every variable imaginable. 

If you want to start learning directly from your customers, here are some of the simplest ways A/B testing for DTC brands can improve your metrics.

Reduce Cart Abandonment

Cart abandonment is a common problem throughout eCommerce. It’s much simpler for customers to close the screen and walk away from potential purchases online than it is in brick-and-mortar retail locations. Reducing your cart abandonment rate can help increase sales numbers significantly without needing to bring in new customers.

You can avoid many cases of cart abandonment by improving your product detail pages (PDP). Customers will walk away if you make it too difficult to buy things. They will also leave if the page isn’t enough to reassure them that your product is useful and trustworthy.

You can use A/B testing to learn how to encourage your customers to follow through and click “Buy.” Easy variable to test include:

  • Adding a return policy to the PDP user interface to build trust

  • Adding user-generated content (UGC) to the page as social proof

  • Removing the need to register to make a purchase to remove a barrier

Any one of these changes may be enough to reduce cart abandonment. You can also experiment with different types of UCG and return policies and their placement to tweak things further.

Grow Email Lists

Your email list is one of your most valuable assets as a marketer. How valuable? Some studies suggest that each email on your list may be worth more than $116 (£84). While that number varies depending on your industry, it’s clear that building your email list more effectively is a simple way to create value for your company. 

A/B testing can help you learn what convinces your customers to give you their email addresses. Many companies use signup forms and pop-ups to ask for this information. Think about all the different elements that go into those tools:

  • Timing of the pop-up

  • Design of the form

  • Location of the pop-up or signup form on-screen

  • Copy and call to action you use

  • Pages on which the forms appear

You can test variations on any one of these elements at a time, or you can break things down further and experiment with multiple variations at once. With data collection tools, like Privy's, you can pinpoint the exact combination that brought in the most emails in a given period. 

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Boost Open Rates

Once your email list is growing at a healthy rate, you can focus on boosting the number of emails you send that get opened. You have one key variable to test to improve your open rate: your email subject lines. The only parts of your email that are visible before it’s opened are the subject line and the sender, so make it count. 

Luckily, there are plenty of ways to experiment with your email marketing. Try split testing things like: 

  • ‌Including the customer’s name in the subject line

  • Changing how you word the announcement of a discount

  • Tweaking the tone of the message with more or less formal language

  • Using different strategies to increase interest, like making it a mystery or adding humor

You probably have a general idea of what your customer base appreciates, but it never hurts to experiment and see what’s genuinely most effective. Privy can help you keep track of all your different email subject lines over time, so you can record what works best with ease.

Increase Click-Through Rates

After people have chosen to open your email, your goal is to close the deal with a call to action (CTA) and have them click through to your landing pages. This click-through rate (CTR) tells you how effective your digital marketing emails are at convincing people to do what you want. A high CTR lets you know that your email marketing is compelling and your targeting is effective. 

To improve your CTR, you can A/B test the design and placement of your CTA. While a sleek design is appealing, it’s still important that your CTA is clearly worded and easy to see. You can use A/B testing to experiment with the CTA copy, its shape and size, and its color compared to the rest of the email.

Grow Social Media Engagement

A thriving social media presence is invaluable for DTC marketing efforts. People like buying from brands that include a community, and social media is the simplest way to build a community online.

While you want your social media presence to remain approachable, you can still do plenty of split testing to learn what gets the best response. Try posting on different days of the week and at different times to see when you get the most engagement. It will help to test similar posts against each other, so compare discount announcements to other discount announcements instead of personality posts or product announcements. 

You can also split-test these variables on every social media site you use. You might find that you get dramatically different response rates at the same time between platforms. Consumers use Facebook and Twitter differently, so you can too.

Optimize Your Mobile Site

Finally, your website is your most important asset of all. As a DTC company, your website is how your customers buy your products. The user experience on your site can make or break your sales numbers. As of February 2021, 54% of all internet traffic comes from mobile devices, so your website must be mobile-friendly. 

To make sure the user interface is as simple as possible, you can use A/B testing to learn which elements make the most difference. Mobile landing pages offer limited real estate, so you can test things like:

  • Whether icons are better than text

  • ‌What size buttons are most effective

  • ‌Where and how pop-ups should be placed

  • Where the filter button should go

  • How many images to display on the screen

Any one of these elements might make a huge difference in how often visitors come to your site and how often they stay on it. Taking the time to test them and implement new best practices as you learn can make all the difference to your customers’ experience. 

Knowledge Is Power

It’s true that A/B testing takes time. It’s important to test changes for several weeks or months to ensure you have collected accurate data. But the process is worth it in the long run. A small change to your website or your email best practices can snowball and increase your sales exponentially.

With tools like Privy, you can make many small changes and keep track of all of them. With their robust A/B testing capabilities, you can keep track of all your changes and develop the best website and email campaigns possible. Take the step to learn directly from your customers and start A/B testing today.

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