Test Group vs Control Group: Understanding the Difference

Alex Danchenko

Co-founder, Reteno

October 15, 2022

Let's assume you are developing a new or modernizing an old application or trying a new approach for your company. To ensure the correctness of the marketing strategy, you should create and segment test groups and control groups.

Mobile testing is a way to test user interaction with a marketing company. What is a test group, and what does a control group mean? There are differences, segmentation, and the need for mobile promotion. Find out in this article.

What is a Test Group?

A test group is a group of users created to define and prove a research theory. For example, an experimental group, assembled according to the parameters of a marketer, receives several generated variables for the A/B test of mobile applications. According to the test group, the company will form a further marketing strategy to achieve the given goals.

Test Group

It is worth noting that testing is not limited by time and the number of variables. The test group may remain unchanged from the start to the end of the test. That is, live users are a kind of tool for optimizing mobile applications or software for future users.

Also, do not forget that you should not rely only on the test group. For user segments, there is a possibility of an erroneous result of their confirmation. To avoid risks, a “control group” is connected to help. So, there must be accurate research, and the test group is the first step to a successful project.

What is a Control Group?

What does a controlled group mean? A control group is a group of users that confirms or denies the effect of any variables in testing. These are the users who are a model for successful research. It is the control group that gives a clear answer to marketers in the search for new solutions upon completion of testing. 

What is an example of a control group? Control groups are assembled in many areas where an independent opinion is needed. Pharmaceutical and IT trials are areas with the best control group examples. For pharmacy, it is important to know the effect of a drug and how a person behaves with a placebo or a test sample. In the IT field, the behavioral factor of users is analyzed with or without variables. 

A/B tests

What is the purpose of a control group? It is worth noting that not all tests require a control group, only in difficult conditions where the test group does not give a complete answer. It is also essential for the control group to be similar to the test group users. Their characteristics must match to avoid an erroneous result.    

Test Group vs. Control Group: What's the Difference?

As we explained definitions of control and test groups, now it is worth focusing on their similarities and differences. 

What is the difference between the Test group vs. Control group?

The first thing you pay attention to is the quantitative ratio of the test group to the control group. If you look from a proportional relationship, then the control group is 1/10 less than the test group. Of course, this is a conditional figure that can change according to your analysis methods.

What is a control group used for? Control groups are responsible for a positive or negative response. This means that the opinion of the test group with a positive reaction should coincide with the positive control or vice versa. Therefore, the test group can have any answer, and the control must confirm it.

Test Group vs. Control Group differences

The test and control group help analyze the market for marketers. They provide information about the behavioral factor of users and whether specific actions are common to all or not to get a conversion. Also, when modernizing sales flows, securing the control group to the test one helps to minimize economic risks. 

How to use Test and Control

Similarities between test and control groups in their resembling characteristics. Why is it important? Because each analysis segment has its niche — consumer or user. A person who loves tea will not go to buy coffee or vice versa. The control group is always matched to the parameters of the test group. If the opinions of the test and control groups agree, then the test is completed.

Test and control groups are indispensable in studies where it is impossible to experiment on the whole population. Data collection is undeniable only under the control of the test group, which will show the effectiveness and significance after the validation of the standard. 

The Importance of a Control Group in Marketing

Control groups help marketers quickly identify the behavior of mobile app users. Based on their data, a strategy is built to improve or change the marketing company. This helps to correct or level out current errors to increase KPI. Let's review several situations that can be applied to control groups and find out why a control group is important and how it can help you build a better strategy.

  • Market volatility and user preferences. The customer base can thin out with unforeseen changes, such as new competitor strategies. Potential customers may leave just because they like the interface of another company's mobile app. The control group will help to determine what kind of stimulus or offer will encourage them to return to you.
  • Nothing new. The non-uniqueness of mobile applications can also cause abandonment of visits and conversions. A control group for a marketer will give an answer to the appearance of the template, classify customer needs, and point out an outdated strategy.
  • Matching companies. Don't let users get tired of your mobile app. Watch for uniqueness and non-matching with competitors. Involving a control group in your marketing strategy will reveal how many twin companies exist and how they fall short of your level.
  • Inappropriate offers. Attracting customers for an irrelevant query will reduce interest in the offer, and user reach will decrease. The control group will identify the issue of rating scores.

How to Use Test & Control Groups Properly

To get accurate results in their research, marketers select control groups in A/B testing, and by doing so, they guarantee the success of the marketing strategy and promotion of mobile applications. There are several ways for marketers to use experimental groups in their work.

Control groups in multivariate and A/B testing 

Multivariate and A/B testing is not possible without a control group. It must be present throughout the whole study, and it doesn't matter what the goals of testing are: whether you want to change the interface design or the size and color of a button, or add images, a banner, pop-ups, or calls to action.

Why is a control group important in an experiment? The control group demonstrates the behavior of users who are unaware of the changes made after analyzing the received data. With numerous reports on different variables, marketers conclude the success of the work.

How to segment control groups

In order for the obtained test results to have a guaranteed confirmation of the hypothesis, the segment of the control group must be large enough. You must receive comprehensive information from users before establishing a control group. But what is the purpose of a control group in segmentation?

  • Set clear audience parameters. What interests, gender, and/or age characteristics should you compare? Do not forget that the test and control group in A/B testing is a single organism.
  • Start your test campaign with one variable. Do not add many options that may not give effective results when comparing data with control.
  • Don't rush your testing. Break the test into segments by day of the week, month, holiday, or season. Long testing yields more variations with meaningful and trustful results. It should not be ruled out that external factors somehow influence behavioral factors, and the control group will show this.
  • If your application belongs to a rare or narrow audience segment, it takes more time to get a conversion, and, therefore, the testing duration should also be increased.

When are Control Groups not Necessary?

There are two types of control group involvement: recommended or optional. More often than not, marketers do not use control groups when they do not see risks in future changes in external factors or in cases of emergency alerts or calls to action. Of course, if you radically change your marketing strategy, you cannot do without group control. But if your goal is for absolutely all users to see your company, then the control group may not be needed. But no one forbids sending messages to control groups after testing is completed to confirm the marketing strategy. 

Conclusion

Conducting marketing analysis and building strategies for promoting mobile applications cannot be done without a test and control group definition. They provide qualitative and quantitative information to marketers about the success of the company. Marketers get a successful and accurate result by comparing the behavior of two groups: an independent opinion and a control assessment.

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