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How to Time Travel to Ask Future Customers What They Actually Want

Two photos of women labeled A & B

Why you want to A/B test your designs.

Do you know how your customers will react when they see your book on the shelf? When they see it, will they pick it up? After they pick it up, will they look at the back cover? And, when they look, will it make them want to buy it?

Do you want to know the answers to these questions before launch?

In fact, your cover design has one job, to get your potential readers to pick your book up off of the shelf. Thus, A/B Testing is a simple and valuable tool for your toolbox that can tell you if your design is doing its job.

“Which book cover will grab my readers’ attention?”

How much time, effort, and energy you spend on it will depend on the cost and the impact the item you are testing will have on your bottom line.

You could run a Twitter poll to find out which cover your followers like. But do your followers make up an accurate crosssection of your readers? An A/B test specifically targets your potential customers.

A/B tests are better than expert advice.

Should you ask experts and friends for advice? Of course you should!

But I like freckles. If you ask my opinion on a model with freckles versus one without, chances are I will pick the freckles. On the other hand, there are some markets with people who think freckles are ugly.

Identical cover designs except one model has freckles.
Photo by Houcine Ncib on Unsplash. Edited by Author.

On top of that, in your market, 80% might think freckles are ugly. Even so, 5% could be so enthusiastic about freckles that sales of cover A significantly outperforms cover B.

An expert can give you some of that information. A/B testing can give you the data you need to make a decision.

How to A/B test effectively.

You only need to follow three simple rules:

  1. First, always start with a well-defined theory. For example, “Title A will generate more link clicks than Title B among my intended audience.” In your test, you might be interested in profile clicks, comments, or other engagements.
  2. Second, test one concept at a time. For example, if you think freckles will improve sales, add only freckles and test. If you think a contemporary design will sell better than a traditional design, change as many elements as you need to fit the different styles.
  3. Finally, test your audience. For instance, if you are writing a Young Adult mystery novel for women, and most of your results are from 60-year-old men, that might be a problem. Then again, that may be ok if your cover is also doing a good job reaching your target audience.

Note: There are more advanced rules for implementing A/B testing, but these are a good place to start for a beginner.

How to test a blog post featured image.

Last year, I had a blog post to which I wanted to direct more traffic. In order to accomplish this, my theory was:

I can generate more clicks with a more informative feature image.

Screenshot of two ad campaigns with different image designs.
Marketing Campaign A and B. Source: Screenshots of Twitter Ads page by Author.
  1. First, I thought more people would click on my link if I switch to a more informative featured image.
  2. Second, in order to test my theory, I created a Tweet campaign with a $20 budget. Then I copied it, replacing only the image that the audience would see.
  3. However, I was not concerned with the audience. I made sure that the audience for the two ads was the same. But this was a small test that would not have much of a return on investment, so I kept it simple.

Here is what I learned.

Screenshot of ad campaign showing Campaign A outperforming Campaign B.
Test Results. Screenshot by Author.

With Image A, readers clicked on my link 70 times out of 5600 impressions. But, only 13 out of 4951 people clicked on image B. You don’t have to be a math genius to see that Image A did much better than Image B.

My theory was a failure, but the test was a success. That is, I learned that I would lose a lot of potential clicks if I changed the featured image.

How to test a coffee mug for your “Wow Box.”

Last week, I made a mug to use for what Dan Kennedy calls a “Wow Box.” (Kennedy, 2016) Later, I thought the mug might look better with a fancy font.

So, I set up a simple test. I created two identical product pages and two identical $10.00 ads. Then I changed one of the mugs’ images to the fancy text. When I checked back a few hours later, I saw that Fancy Mug was the clear loser.

Photo of identical mugs, except one has a script font and the other has a block font.
Image by Author.

Yes, this was a short test. Certainly, longer tests will give you more data. Thus, I would test longer if I wanted to sell mugs. For example, I found that far more people liked Fancy Mug in the afternoon than in the morning.

But, since I will be mostly giving the mugs away, I only care that Blocky Mug is more appealing.


A/B tests turn dollars into high-value data that can answer your most important questions:

  • Which design should I use?
  • Will this opening sentence get more people interested in reading on?
  • Which synopsis will make people want to buy my book?

Get expert advice from experts, but also add A/B testing to your toolbox. Be creative. The results will teach you how to reach more people with your writing.


Kennedy, D. S., & Buck, S. (2016). No B.S. guide to maximum referrals & customer retention. Entrepreneur Press. (Affiliate)

Official copywriteur GAS mug! (Blocky Text). Copywriteur. Retrieved April 6, 2021, from

Official copywriteur GAS mug! (Fancy Text). Copywriteur. Retrieved April 6, 2021, from

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