Google Website Optimizer 101

Justin Custoni of EpikOne explains why Google Website Optimizer and Google Analytics work hand in hand

During an intro to a Google Analytics “Seminars for Success” seminar this morning in Montreal, Canada, Justin Cutroni, author, blogger, official Google seminar leader, and Director of Analytics for EpikOne said that, “acquiring and analyzing traffic alone is a bit like looking only in the rear-view mirror”.

The idea of using Google Analytics on your site and then letting it “do the work” is apparently common in many industries, according to Cutroni. As publishers, we know content better than anyone else, so we understand that testing content while analyzing our metrics is the key to becoming better website owners.

Our host portrayed the process of maintaining an online business in 4 steps:

Measure > Analyze > Test > Change. And then of course, back to “Measure”.

This is why Cutroni decided it was important to start the day off talking about the popular Google tool Website Optimizer, for the most integral part of the process, “Test”.

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Cutroni noted that there are three things you should “think about incessantly” when it comes to your website:

  • What is our conversion rate?
  • On what pages are we losing the most customers?
  • What are we testing next?

All three questions can be answered by using Google Website Optimizer to test the pages of your website. Within Website optimizer, you have dozens of formats to test with. Here are several popular options:

  • Short or long copy?
  • Testimonials or not?
  • Free trial or money-back guarantee?
  • Image of a product, or image of a person using it?
  • Shiny beveled buttons, or inline forms?
  • Offer bundles, or promote individual orders?
  • Comparative check-lists, or latest features?
  • 2 long sign-up pages or 5 short ones?

To test these options, you have three different difficulties and methods of doing so:

A/B – The A/B test is the simplest, and best for sites that don’t receive a lot of traffic (because other tests require a robust amount of traffic in order to deliver accurate results). This test uses two landing pages and compares them against each other. Users who land on one URL page receive either one or the other.

Multivariate – The most popular test is the multivariate test, and it is the intermediate method in terms of difficulty. With this test, you can define zones and test dozens of different versions of one web page. You can determine which elements of a page convert more and is best used for fine-tuning.

Split-path – The most complex test is the split-path test and it’s used to test user experience on your orderflows. With this test, you can see if users prefer a short orderflow with longer copy and pages, or a longer orderflow with shorter copy.

One of the bigger problems at some companies arise because of “opinions”. Your marketing director thinks a red button works better and your designer thinks you should lose the buttons and make a big graphic. In the real world, the people who can actually show you what works and doesn’t work are your customers.

To overcome these odds, test your elements with Website Optimizer. Both strong opinions can be tested and proven either right, or wrong. Cutroni reminded the room: “your thought process may not be the same as your customer – and they are the ones who really matter”.


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