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What can we get straight out of the box?

Usually, when you test a page in Google Website Optimizer, this is the sort of information you’ll get:

Screenshot of Google Website Optimizer test results interface.
Screenshot of Google Website Optimizer test results interface.

What are we looking at? These are the conversion rates for each of two versions of a page, and which combination is performing the best.  This is done with the intent of keeping the version with the best conversion rate once the test has been completed.

How is the conversion rate calculated?

How is the conversion rate defined in Google Website Optimizer?  Well, when you set up the test in Google Website Optimizer, you’re asked to identify the page that signifies whether or not the guinea pi-err… visitor has done what you want them to do.  If you’re trying to get visitors to buy something, for instance, you should use the URL of the page they get to see after they’ve completed the purchasing process (the “thanks” or “confirmation” page).

Screenshot of step 3 in GWO Multivariate Experiment Setup process
Screenshot of step 3 in GWO Multivariate Experiment Setup process

This is all that Google Website Optimizer will tell you:  did the visitor convert or not, and on which version of the page?  For many, this is more than good enough.  For some, whom I hope I’m speaking to right now, it’s woefully inadequate.

Well, we’ve got a solution for you: just add Google Analytics, some Events and just a touch of Advanced Segments.

Tying it all together

The gist of it is this.  When you set up the new version of the page (as in an A/B test) or add the code to swap out a particular section on a page (as in a multivariate test), you also add a line of JavaScript setting up a Google Analytics Event which identifies which version of the page or section it is.

I’ve been asked to keep the code-speak down a bit, but I’m going to show you an example of what this might look like so you can judge for yourself whether you need a little help from a web guru.  If you’re very code averse, just skip it.  I won’t be hurt.  Really.

Screenshot of code setting up the Event in a GWO section tag
Screenshot of code setting up the Event in a GWO section tag

Then, you go into Google Analytics and set up an Advanced Segment (or a Custom Report, if you’re sassy like that) that will show only the data from one of the versions of the webpage (or section thereof).  Do this for each version you have running in Google Website Optimizer.

Screenshot of Advanced Segment for hypothetical ‘version1’
Screenshot of Advanced Segment for hypothetical ‘version1’

Now that I’ve got this data,
what do I do with it?

Once you’ve deactivated all other Advanced Segments, and activated this new one, you’ll be able to find out whatever you want about the behavior of visitors on (or in response to) each version of the page being tested.  You might find out that one version of the page is heavily favoured by Scottish Apple users, for instance, or that one version of the page is sending visitors to a page you never expected it to.

If your objective is to optimize your user’s experience with your website, there’s so much more to life than just the conversion rate.

If you want to learn more about A/B testing, have a look at Michael Straker‘s blog post at https://www.cardinalpath.com/ab-testing-clustered-vs-clean-experiment-design/.

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