A/B testing: we can do better

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A/B testing is something we come across more and more, typically in organisations with greater digital maturity. While I love A/B testing, too often I see firms using a shot gun based approach lacking genuine insight to create meaningful hypothesis and hoping to hit a random target.

I was interested to come across this article on the Marvel App blog with a wonderfully click batey title A/B Testing – You’re Doing It Wrong‘.
A/B testing article
The article includes some interesting findings:

-Only 10% of  experiments resulted in actionable change — formally releasing a new version of a page or feature

-50% of teams could not make decisions from A/B testing experiments due to inconclusive or poorly measured data

This sums it up nicely: “Companies may be running A/B tests too frequently for too little time, contributing to a high failure rate that makes A/B test results less valuable and meaningful.”

Note that the above data is from small and potentially non representative sample or as the author states “This next dataset is from a qualitative and quantitative A/B testing survey of 26 A/B testing practitioners conducted from May 1 to May 30 in 2016 (Northwestern, IDS — Justin Baker, 2016). While this is not the end-all be-all of surveys, it could still give us some meaningful insights”. While the sample may not be perfect (when are they?) the findings reflect my personal experience.

I believe that at the heart of the issue of poor A/B testing is a lack of data triangulation to understand the user experience and using this to create hypothesis that can be tested.  Some of the most meaningful A/B tests that I have seen were when qualitative data was used to understand a problem and then a solution was identified and tested.

What are your thoughts?

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