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A/B Test: Long form copy one column vs two

Always be testing.

We must test our assumptions. Where there is existing and good quality research, use that. Test for what we don’t know and can’t discover from existing research.

I never want to be complacent—I am always looking for opportunities to discover whether there are ways to better engage my audience and get better results.

Backstory

I received a 5 page document to upload for consumption on Linkedin via the document upload feature. This renders a PDF into a slider/flipbook of sorts.

The document consisted of 5 pages with one column of text straight across the page with about 18 words per line. We already know from research that to reduce reading fatigue, the ideal number of words in a line of text is 9-12, but I had a hard time discovering any research that would answer the question of how columns came into the equation and whether is was better to present documents as walls of text or break it into columns.

Hypothesis

My hypothesis was that audiences would experience more reading fatigue in a document with more words per line and abandon that document sooner than one which split the information into two columns.

Experiment

I used the app Issuu to publish two versions of the document. Issuu is great because you get useful analytics for your documents.

I made an audience of around 50 people in my network who:

  1. Were likely to find the content in this document interesting and worth reading
  2. Hadn’t already been exposed to the first version which was publicly available

Half received the version with one column of text and half received a two-column version.

Participants were instructed:

  1. Open this link only when you are ready to read this document. Opening now and coming back later will affect the analytics.
  2. Read the document until you feel bored and/or discover that you have stopped paying attention to what you are reading. If/when you notice one of these things, exit the window.

Results

The two-column version held the reader’s attention 120% longer than the version with one-column of text.

I hold up a mirror for my
customers to see their own
brand.

I guess you could say I’m like
a therapist for businesses.
No smoke.
Just mirrors.

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