Once you have a website that sells something, and everything is up and running, you will start to wonder how you can get more out of your traffic. There are usually a few more sales per thousand visitors to be squeezed out, but getting at these is sometimes more effort than it is actually worth.
This is why we do split and multivariate testing. Once you’re sure all of your basic design principles are sound (buy buttons in the right place, etc.), it’s easy to sit back, look at your website and think, “damn, that’s a good looking website I’ve got there”. Your customers might also think so, but you’d be surprised how subtle changes can make a huge difference. It’s impossible to tell until you try them, and this is where split testing and multivariate testing comes in handy.
What is Split Testing?
Split testing is simply the process of creating two variations for a website, and showing different visitors different landing pages, to see which one converts better. To do this you will obviously need high enough traffic to rule out flukes and individual customer actions (I’d say around 500 visitors a day, for a month, or at least 10,000 visitors in total).
It sounds complicated, but I’m going to show you how it’s actually very easy using Google Webmaster Tools. I’ll also give you a few ideas to try out on your own site.
Multivariate testing is simply a more advanced testing method that tests multiple variables at the same time. To do this you need a lot more traffic, and a lot more time. We’ll stick with straightforward split or A/B testing.
How to do split testing using Google Webmaster Tools
If you don’t have a Webmaster Tools account, go set one up. This is essential for any website owner, and it’s free. In order to do this, all you need to do is go to “Experiments” and create a new experiment. In there you’ll find a place where you can post the code you want to test. It will give you some tags to put in your code.
Place these tags in your own website’s code, around the code you will be replacing with your test code. Then put your test code in the block in the Website Optimizer. Google’s tools will automatically replace your tagged code with the new code you give it for every second visitor. It will also remember what it gave that visitor so they see the same page the next time they visit.
A few things to try out
Here are a few ideas that are quick and easy to test out, and all you need is to learn your way around Google Website Optimizer and have a good understanding of HTML.
- The colour of your “Buy” button
• The arrangement of your sidebar widgets/callouts
• The positioning of your “Buy” button
• The colour of your newsletter signup box
• Using a lightbox visitor rescue widget (this irritates some people, but can result in better conversions overall)
• The positioning of your logo
• The arrangement of your top-level navigation items
Give those a try, and see if you can get any interesting data out of the results. You might be surprised at what you find!