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Dealing with pressure to call tests early (2/3)


Yesterday we tried to get inside the heads and hearts of stakeholders who might favor calling a test early. Today, let’s look at a few tools you can use to make the case for running tests to completion.

(Sorry about the giant emoji in yesterday’s message #RSSfailz)

The mighty A/A (or A/A/A/A/A/A test)

Run an A/A test with as many identical variations as you intend to test. Check it every day, or three times a day, or more. Unless you happen to have the smoothest, most uniform conversion data on the planet, you’ll see crazy s**t happen.

Two goals here: First, to measure the variance in your conversion data so you can define a minimum test duration that makes sense for your site and your visitors. Second, to capture a screenshot of the A/A test showing a “winner” at “statistical significance” - more on how to use this tomorrow.

Appeal to authority

Only you know which source your collaborators, client, or management will find most persuasive, but you have your pick. Neil Patel? Peep Laja from ConversionXL writing on the CrazyEgg blog? Ronny Kohavi at Microsoft?

All of these sources (and plenty more on the interwebs) point to roughly the same guidelines:

This typically means 2 weeks is a minimum duration.

Your own, customized criteria

One final, powerful tool you can use in building the case for letting tests run to completion is your own plan for when to stop the test. If you decide before launch that based on traffic to the page, baseline conversion rate, what you know about your buying cycle, and the estimated impact of the experiment, that it should run for 3 weeks … better still if you decide this and write it down somewhere, it takes on its own authority.

Why don’t we go ahead and call this one?

“We decided this test needs 3 weeks worth of data to ensure we measure any impact on return visitors. Besides, if we stop now we’ll only have data from a single weekend. We’ve already scheduled it to end Monday after next.”

Spoken like a true expert. Tomorrow we’ll look at more ways to frame this argument and tell a story that should get the whole team on board with your plan to run tests long enough.


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© 2022 Brian David Hall