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Salesforce Commerce Cloud: Made For A/B Testing

Part and parcel of any modern marketing strategy is A/B testing, or its even-better cousin, multivariate testing.

Here’s a quick refresher in case you’ve been asleep at the wheel — or, driving a different car; or not driving at all! — for the last few years. (Electric cars are here!) How do you know which detail is more effective in getting visitors to your site to achieve the goal you want them to? One classic strategy is to guess, and the guesswork is often based on lots of meetings, brainstorms, and speculations.

Another strategy is to, well, show some portion of the visitors a version of the site with one detail, but another portion with other details. Personally, I’ve done this lots on small scales (let’s just change this one price; or this one headline; or this one button position), but also on big scales (let’s show these users completely different designs; or let’s show them completely different signup flows to purchase, or maybe even, say, a purchase without a signup!).

While on the surface, this may sound easy — sure, just show some visitors this, and some visitors that! — the “devil is in the detail,” as the anti-devil team always says.

Therefore, if you’re going to do some A/B or multivariate testing, here are some requirements you would want in the platform you’ll use. (Hint, to give away the ending: Salesforce Commerce Cloud does all of this!).

First, you’ll want to be able to do complex not just the simple little changes but the complex ones, like completely different flows. What if you want some buyers to be forced to create users on your systems; others have it as an option; and others not even given that option?

Second, you’ll want to show the test to certain subsets of all your visitors. If your site gets lots of traffic, you don’t want 50% to see this and 50% to see something completely different. You may want 0.25% to see a variation to test on them.

Third, you will want the visitors to your site to continue with the original experience they saw, even when they return to the site later. If you showed someone a test with a hot bubblegum pink color scheme, and they come back tomorrow — you don’t want them to be in the 99.75% that will then see the normal Lapis Lazuli blue instead, but for them to continue seeing the hot bubblegum pink version.

As a result, many of the standard tools used for A/B testing, like Optimizely and Google Optimize, don’t cut it on this large scale. They’re great for the simpler tests but less so for the complex ones. But you know what tool is made for such testing? You got it: Salesforce Commerce Cloud.

Salesforce Commerce Cloud includes A/B testing as part of its “Campaign” functionality. This is notable and important because Campaigns allow you to display different content, designs, and flows to different users, depending on different situations or triggers. When a site visitor, say, comes from country X, or via link Y, or at this time of day, or randomly, show him This instead of That, or That instead of This.

Of course, everything comes with a price. And here is the price to doing complex A/B or multivariate testing, whether on Salesforce Commerce Cloud or anywhere else: you can’t push a button and magically your perfect test happens. You want to test out two completely different user experiences? Well, you need to map out, plan, create, implement, and these tests. This includes not just defining the different experiences, but creating the necessary materials and collateral, and all the coding around it. And if you want to create two very different experiences, then that is two very different sites you will, in effect, have to create. We’re still waiting for someone to invent a magic button but, alas, insofar as we can tell, in the 21st century, magic still doesn’t exist. We’re not holding our breath!

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