Testing design and content features on-the-go to identify what users want is nothing new — it’s over a decade old process used by Google (and now Facebook among several others) to tell which products are likely to succeed.
While both Google and Facebook are known for running dozens of A/B testing at any point in time to find what’s the most popular design or feature in a new release, many other companies who do not have the required technical firepower are left scrambling for outside talent. They are under pressure to find products that do not require deep algorithmic expertise for executing “test-as-you-go” projects by their marketing departments.
Tapping into this opportunity are several startups — Optimizely launched by former Googlers, Wingify and more recently launched YC-incubated Apptimize. All are promising faster, better testing on-the-fly.
The latest to join this list is New Delhi-based Appiterate, a visual A/B testing startup focused on iOS and Android. Appiterate has raised over $500k in seed funding from SAIF Partners and a bunch of angel investors including Greg Badros (ex-VP, product & engineering, Facebook) and Prashant Malik (ex-Facebook, co-creator of Apache Cassandra).
So why another A/B testing startup?
First of all, Appiterate is betting on its WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor, and claiming to be among the first ones to offer. To be sure, Apptimize also talked about its WYSIWYG editor as a top feature.
“This makes it extremely easy to A/B test layouts, call-to-action buttons, payment pages etc. without the use of any coding. In addition to changing button colors, copy etc, we allow drag-n-drop of elements that none of the competitors offer,” said Tanuj Mendiratta, co-founder of Appiterate. Mendiratta, a Delhi College of Engineering graduate, founded the startup in January last year with his batch mate Anuj Bhargava. The other two co-founders are Mayank Kumar and Varun Sharma.
“Our next goal is to take Appiterate beyond A/B testing to help app publishers in maximizing lifetime value with new launches like customer segmented communication, advanced actionable insights, source tracking and complete suite of relationship marketing,” Bhargava said.
With more users accessing applications and services on their mobiles, A/B testing is increasingly becoming an impactful tool for marketeers. For companies such as Facebook and Google looking to tap into the mobile opportunity, A/B testing is already an important tool for boosting profits.
“I’m excited about the opportunity in front of Appiterate — they’re solving a critical problem that every mobile application faces, and the analogous and easier solution for websites has already created enormous value for those businesses,” said Greg Badros, an early investor in Appiterate.
Also, since it’s becoming really tough for publishers to make money from apps, A/B testing startups are finding enough opportunities to position themselves as the solution.
“With the decline of paid apps and increase in cost of customer acquisition, it is imperative for app publishers to get better ROI from app users,” said Mendiratta. Indeed, Gartner said in January this year that through 2018 less than 0.01% of consumer mobile apps will be considered a financial success by their developers.
A/B testing startups are solving an important problem for sure, but it has its limitations as this Wired article captured. In some ways, A/B testing is similar to how direct marketing worked years ago with mailers, except that it’s for websites and mobile apps this time. Perhaps it would make sense for enterprises to also explore the ideas in “experimental design” while figuring out what works for users in real time.