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Capital Region Business Journal Article

Article Originally published in the Captial Region Business Journal - February 2010 (page 33)

Title: Make more money from your Website using Google’s Website Optimizer

By: Jonny Buroker

You can improve your website’s conversion rate

As we’ve discussed in this column previously, the primary goal of your website is to convert visitors.  The definition of a conversion will differ depending on the site and even within a site.  Here are some example conversions:

·         Complete and submit an online form

·         Sign up for your company’s newsletter

·         Purchase your product

·         Contact you for a free consultation or an appointment

By just increasing your conversion rate from 1% to 2%, you can literally double the revenue and profitability generated by your website.  Is converting 2 out of 100 site visitors within your reach?  How about 5 or 10 out of 100?  While these may be lofty goals from where you are today, they are certainly attainable with a bit of effort on your part as you “learn” what your visitors are looking for and what they react to. 

This column will introduce you to Google’s Website Optimizer and how it can help improve your conversion rate.

Why should i consider using google’s Website optimizer?

Have you ever wondered if making some slight changes to a web page would have a positive effect on your conversion rate but didn’t know how to test your theory?  Perhaps you thought that flashing image with sound you have today is a bit over the top and maybe something a bit more subdued might encourage more people to convert.  Maybe you’ve even had an ongoing “difference of opinion” within your company about what should be changed and as a result nothing gets changed.  With Google’s Website Optimizer you can set up experiments to test one version of a page against another and measure the results so you can confirm your theory or prove your point.  Optimizer is free and can be found at www.google.com/websiteoptimizer.

start with a simple a/b experiment

The simplest experiment (and the best one to use if you’re just getting started) is the A/B experiment.  With this experiment you can create an alternative “B” page that functions just like the live “A” page on your site, but with the differences you want to test (e.g., new images, fonts, colors, links, buttons, video, etc.).  You can actually have up to 127 alternative “B” pages in your experiment, but unless your site has LOTS of traffic it’s best to keep it to just a couple pages to test against each other. 

Optimizer will generate some html code that your webmaster will install on the test pages in the experiment (the “A” page and the “B” page) and the Conversion page and when visitors come to the test page they will be alternately presented with either the “A” page or the “B” page.  Optimizer will track your conversion statistics so you can determine which version is more effective for converting site visitors.  At this point you can toss out the “loser” and start another experiment.

how to conduct your first optimizer experiment

1.      Select your test page and conversion page – the test page should be a page with relatively high traffic, like your Home page, a landing page or a product page. The test page needs to offer an action (i.e., a conversion) your site visitor can take and that you want to improve. The conversion page could be a Thank You page for submitting an online form, a shopping cart page, a Contact Us page, etc.

2.      Design your experiment – determine what you want to test. Is it a new headline, different images/graphics, a different page layout? Identify the obvious fixes and focus on those first.

3.      Create content variations – create your “B” page with the new and revised content.

4.      Run the experiment – your site visitors will see either your original “A” page or the alternate “B” page and Optimizer will collect conversion data for each.

5.      Review Results – Optimizer will generate reports that let you know how the “B” page compares to the original “A” page. The reports show the level of improvement the “B” page will provide along with a confidence level.

6.      Conduct next experiment – when the results show you have a higher performing “B” page, you can make that one your permanent page at which point you’re ready to start the next experiment.

integrate optimizer experiments into your business strategy

Once you’ve conducted your first experiment you can branch out and start additional A/B tests or even multivariate tests to determine which combinations generate better conversion rates and help your business the most.


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