AB Testing - Getting Started

A/B testing: a comprehensive guide to getting started

Over the past few years there’s been quite a bit of hype regarding A/B testing. From Obama’s election campaign, to Veggie Tales increasing revenue by 38%, I believe the hype is well-warranted and something that should be in every marketer’s toolkit.

I’ve had the opportunity to setup, instrument, and analyze numerous A/B tests for companies in different industries. I’ve made plenty of mistakes, and found some winners along the way. It’s been an eye opening experience, and the purpose of this guide (yes, it’s going to be a long one ~ 4000 words) will be to give you the most comprehensive A/B testing resource online (well, at least that’s the goal). I’ll start from the very basics, including organizational structure, to best practices (and things you should avoid).

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Why User Testing Services are Useless

Building software that people enjoy using isn’t  an easy task, and it takes a ton of effort.

It’s critical that you get consistent, honest feedback to help you create a better experience for the end user. In an effort to create this feedback loop, user testing sites have real people record themselves visiting and interacting with the site.

While I want to love what they are doing (I certainly agree with their mission), I find myself despising these services and finding them to be completely useless.

Why? Let me explain…

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More Accurate Acquisition Funnels with Mixpanel

I’m a big fan of Mixpanel for analytics. I’ve written about how I do A/B tests in Mixpanel, but over the past week I learned some really important things that I’d like to pass on.

Imagine a typical registration process from a homepage. The person visits your homepage, decides that they are interested, and creates an account. Clearly this signup flow can easily be tracked in Mixpanel. It might look something like this.


What’s the conversion rate on this funnel above? Here’s where things get interesting….

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Growth/Marketing Interview Tips: My Learnings

Over the last few weeks I finished up my time at YesGraph, and have been exploring other opportunities and doing some contract work in my free time.

I’ve had the opportunity to connect with several companies here in Boston and SF, and the demand for marketers who work on driving growth is very high. This should serve as a no-brainer (as every startup is looking for exponential growth), but I was surprised and happy that companies are placing a high priority on this skill-set/mindset.

I’m compiling this post because there’s many articles about specific growth “hacks”, but very little information about what it’s like to get hired as one of these growth/marketing people. I’ll try to explain my learnings along the way and provide practical insight on how to navigate this process.

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The Startup Marketer’s Experimentation Process

Over the past month, I’ve really tried to take a hard look at how I personally do marketing online. Specifically, I’ve been trying to create processes that I can use at any company as I progress through my marketing career. I wrote about how I onboard myself at a new company, but my goal with this post is to dive a bit deeper.

Before I jump into specifics, I believe that establishing a process around marketing experiments is one of the biggest competitive advantages you can have. So many marketers try tactics, and never document results (I’m guilty of this.) Even worse, there’s no “formula” to how you learn. This is bad, and I’ve been trying to change this, so I figured I’d share my process around experimentation. It’s still a work in progress, so any feedback is appreciated.

Startup Marketer's experimentation process

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Tips on finding a Marketer for your Startup

Two months ago I started working at YesGraph. It’s a team of 7, and we’re launching our paid tier in the near future.  My role is what I’d classify as a startup marketing role, yet it’s dramatically different than my past role at Boundless (also a marketing role.)

It’s not a difference in company culture, or the fact that YesGraph is a distributed team, but instead it’s based around one important distinction. Product-market fit. 

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Tracking A/B tests in Mixpanel using url parameters (Rails Application)

Update January 2015: I wrote a 3,000 word introduction to a/b testing, and I’d love it if you checked it out!

So you have a Rails application, and you’re trying to setup A/B tests. You probably also aren’t in the mood to pay for Optimizely  because it makes more sense to roll your own. I understand, yet you also want to be able to track the results of these A/B tests in Mixpanel (specifically in a funnel.)

You’re reading the right article – I’m going to dive in and show you a super-simple way to set this up.

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Marketing your Tech Company is getting SaaSy: Here’s how to avoid problems

It seems like there’s been a large increase of software over the past year  to help online marketers. There’s software to help avoid churn in billing, there’s software to help with lifecycle emails, and plenty of options for everything in between.

I’m really digging this – there’s more tools to help marketers understand customers, and reach them at optimal points while using the software. While this is all hunky-dory, there’s some potential problems that should be avoided.

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What A/B testing solution should I use for my Rails App?

Update Jan 2015: I wrote a monster guide on getting started with A/B testing, which you may find useful.

So you probably visited this page in your quest for an A/B testing solution for your Rails application. There’s a plethora of options, but the bottom line you are probably asking is: Should I roll my own/use an existing gem? Or should I use third-party software like Optimizely or Visual Website Optimizer?

I’ve used both, and in the rest of this article I’m going to chat about what works and what doesn’t. This is surprisingly a complex question.

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Jumping into SaaS Marketing? Focus on Tactics, not Strategy

It’s not easy to prove your worth as a marketer at a startup, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. From my own personal experience, I’ve seen low hanging fruit that must be talked about. It’s the tactical stuff. You know, the nitty gritty…

First, let me tell a quick story…

In college, I had a professor who was amazing. He ran marketing at Verizon (before it  became Verizon), and for fun, organized a massive sponsorship for the 2002 World Cup. He was one of the best professors I ever had, but I never managed to ace his exams. I would visit him during his office hours, and try to fully understand what I was doing wrong. Time after time, it boiled down to the fact that he was looking at the big picture (strategy), while I was diving deep into tactics. 

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