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You and A/B Testing

Just this week, I’ve seen it.  A major magazine asked for a vote on their cover.  Which did I prefer?  The burst of flowers or the landscape photo?

Then, there was the short survey from one of my favorite retailers.  Do I prefer the slim leg pants with a small slit near the ankle or a taper all the way down?

And, then today over lunch, my Instagram account recorded the results of an A/B test and the changes made to a Cookbook cover, reacting to the A/B test.  This was Round Two!

What’s happening?

Retailers—and you—know that much energy, prayer and time go into creating your “something”.  Your book, your speech, your ad or your logo.  Because you create it to be noticed by your target audience, the opinion of that target audience is of great importance.

Just to be clear, A/B means exactly that.  Do I prefer picture/idea A or picture/idea B?  Which will I read/buy/share?

Yes, there are core things that don’t change.  The Gospel.  Our core theological beliefs.  We’re not talking about testing these.

But, the wrappings—the colors, the sounds, the branding – all will do a better job of connecting, and of not offending, if we test.

It’s true that many of us may not have large budgets for a big research project.  But, we can fairly easily set up an A/B test of key elements.  The recent examples I used came from larger companies but I’ve seen similar examples from authors and speakers with a staff of one.

So, here are a few pointers:

  1. Decide who your intended audience really is These are the folks of whom you want to ask opinions. You know lots of folks not in that audience.  They are wonderful people but unless they are experts, their opinion matters less than the intended audience.
  2. Set up your test in a clear and simple manner. The examples at the open of this piece are good ones.  Cover A or cover B?
  3. Use your normal channels so that people know who you are. In the cases I referenced, these were within normal email distribution or on Instagram.  (Yes, we’re talking easy.)   You can set up a short Survey Monkey via e-mail to make it easier to tabulate if you choose.
  4. It’s a splendid idea to make this a habit, not a one-time thing. This increases input, engagement and communication with your audience.

If you are praying about the year ahead, consider this advice from Proverbs 15:22: Plans fail for lack of counsel but with many advisers they succeed.

Verse from New International Version


Jan Shober is Vice-president for Strategy for Finney Media, helping you create experiences that cause your audience to come back for more.  She’s both media consumer and analyst.  She’s a grandmom and  completely addicted to books!

Jan began her media journey as a ten-year old with a neighborhood newspaper—and continued shadowing her love of words to work in radio. She spent time in South America working in international media and about twenty years with Focus on the Family in media.

Her big reason for her work?  Her life mission to help more people grow in Jesus. See more about Jan’s journey at: or on Instagram @nowcelebratetoday





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