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by David Booth
Founding Partner at WebShare, LLC (now Cardinal Path)

In the world of Ecommerce, those of us who have been involved in conversion marketing and statistical testing know just how big an impact even the smallest of details can make to website performance and the bottom line. Some buttons just work better than others. Some product images provoke more purchases time and time again. Some colors are more likely to cause newsletter signups than others, and even details like punctuation and capitalization can have an effect on the rate at which your site converts visitors into monetized customers.

For some time now, the timeliness, breadth and depth of analytic data available about an array of usage metrics for websites has created a statistician’s dream – the capability to test virtually any aspect of a website and observe its relationship on conversions, time spent on a website, or any other measurable aspect of the visitor’s experience. Well, thanks to tools like Google’s Website Optimizer, you don’t have to be a statistician to reap the benefits of statistical conversion testing and ensure that you’re constantly improving the performance of your online activities.

We caught up with Google’s Website Optimizer Product Manager Tom Leung to talk about the new set of Website Optimizer features that was released yesterday, and here’s what he had to say:

WebShare:How will the recent GWO improvements help new users begin setting up and running their first tests?
TL: Our new A/B testing support reduces the set up time for a GWO test by roughly two thirds. We spent a lot of time making the A/B set up process as simple as possible so it is especially appropriate for those who are new to content testing or who aren’t as comfortable adding lots of JavaScript tags to their sites. With the A/B set-up process, so long as you already have two or more existing pages you’d like to test against each other, you can generally set up a test in around 5 minutes and start seeing data a few hours later.
WebShare:What specific benefits does the new A/B Experiment option provide for GWO users?

A/B tests are great because they require minimal tagging to set up, they are great for trying new layouts and look and feel changes, and they can also be used to test alternate workflows. Since they generally involve only a few pages, they also require a smaller number of conversions to get statistical significance. On the other hand, multivariate tests are great when it comes to testing dozens or even hundreds of versions of a page. Multivariate tests give you much more granular results, uncover unexpected positive interactions, and once instrumented, allow you to test a lot more content. That said, multivariate tests do require a bit more tagging up front and since they generally cover a larger number of versions of the page, they require more conversions to get conclusive results.

In many cases, we’ve seen some of the most successful testers start with an A/B to find the general layout and look and feel that works best and then follow it up with a multivariate test to boost the conversion rate even further.

WebShare:What is the most unique success story you’ve heard of that’s come from the GWO tool?

We hear from companies who have drastically improved conversion rates all the time. It’s not uncommon to hear about GWO tests finding pages that increase conversion rates easily by double digits and sometimes even more by trying new headlines, images, promotional copy, and call to action button designs. There’s a number of these discussed in detail on our case study page. Probably the most unique story I’ve heard was from an ecommerce company who used GWO not only to improve their landing pages but for making a business decision about where to invest their website improvement budget. This company was on the receiving end of a vendor pitching a trust seal which they claimed was far superior to the ecommerce company’s existing trust seal. When the ecommerce company indicated the proposed seal was a lot more expensive, the vendor said the new seal was so much more well known to consumers that the incremental sales generated by their superior seal would pay for the difference in no time.

Instead of the ecommerce company taking the vendor’s word for it or declining their offer altogether, the ecommerce company decided to use Website Optimizer to test the two seals against each other and make their decision based on actual customer data . In this case, they found that the new trust seal did not justify the cost. We’ve been told about other Website Optimizer tests where trust seal logos were shown to have very positive effects so you never know what works for your own situation till you test. Nevertheless, I love this story because it shows that Website Optimizer isn’t only about improving site content for conversions but can also be used to increase transparency and accountability for potential third party changes to your website.

A good conversion marketing strategy includes consistent experimentation of every aspect of your website. With tools like Google’s Website Optimizer available, it’s now easier than ever to set up tests and find out what aspects of your website can be changed to improve your bottom line. If you’re not converting at 100%, then you should have a test running!


State of Digital Marketing Analytics

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