How A/B Testing Can Help Your Church Communication

How A/B Testing Can Help Your Church Communication

February 4, 2015 by

As church communicators, the terms experiment, analysis and test are not common parts of our vocabulary.

For some reason, they conjure up images of lab coats, bunsen burners, equations and test tubes—all things that seem at odds with the essence of church communications.

This should change because experiments and analysis can only bring clarity and better results.

For instance, A/B testing is an example of an experiment that can improve the number of people who take action at your church—something all church communicators are interested in seeing.

What is an A/B test?

An A/B test is when two versions (A and B) are compared and measured against metrics to determine which version receives more of a desired result.

It’s important to note that each version is identical except for the single test element. (If you have multiple elements changing, your performing a multivariate test, which requires advanced statistical analysis).

How does it work?

In an A/B test, a portion of visitors are shown either version A or version B. Then, each version is measured based on a metric.

The version that performs the best based on analytics is the ‘winner’ and is then shown to rest of the population.

How can church communicators use A/B testing?

As church communicators, we’ve all been in meetings to discussed ways to get more people to:

  • join a small group
  • volunteer their time
  • go on a mission trip
  • become a new member
  • attend an event
  • give to the church

Each of these items is a great candidate for an A/B test. They each have a clear ‘ask’ or request of the community. By modifying an element on the page you’re able to see if it results in more of a desired action.

A Sample A/B Test

In churches, we rely on the generosity and faithful giving of our community to sustain the church’s mission. Therefore, it is important to ensure the giving page of your church’s website is clear and simple to use.

Towards that end, you might test if a “give online now” link or button encourages members to give.

Version A: Link


Version B: Button

Give___Providence_Baptist_Church 2

You’ll need to communicate with your finance department to track the data for you goal metrics. The metrics you’d measure against could be total amount of online giving or total number of new online givers.

Google Analytics can track how many people visit the page. Your finance department can provide giving information for each member.

Then, you can take that information and plug it into an A/B testing tool to find out which option performed better.

Other Things To A/B Test

There are many other things you can test. With websites you can test these elements and more.

  • Headlines
  • Written copy
  • Images
  • Position of content on the page

With emails and newsletters you can test:

  • Subject lines with personalization.
    • A) <> here is your monthly newsletter from Grace Church
    • B) Monthly newsletter from Grace Church
  • Change the from email address.
    • A)
    • B)

Most modern email newsletter providers have A/B testing built into their system. Check out Mailchimp’s A/B testing feature.

These tests may seem like a small changes, but they can lead more people to take a desired action. Your role as a communicator is to ensure these actions guide people to greater levels of discipleship.

Calculating a Winner

Analytics plays a key role in calculating a winner. You’ll first need to know what metrics you’ll be measuring number of signups, page visits, etc.

Second, you’ll need to collect data from each test over a predefined period. After that you can calculate which one performed better. This tool can help.

If setting up your own experiment and calculating the results seems like too complicated, you can look into using an online A/B testing tool.

How do you think A/B testing can help your church?

Photo by craig Cloutier.
Post By:

AJ Fenlason

AJ Fenlason leads strategic services for Monk Development, builders of the church content management system Ekklesia 360. He is passionate about helping churches reach their ministry goals through the use of analytics insight and content strategy.
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