With the recent economic turmoil, marketers are being faced with a difficult challenge. On one hand, they are being asked by management to slash their online marketing budgets. But at the same time, they are still being asked to increase online sales.
One way to solve this challenge is to be more efficient in your online activities - that is to figure how to increase the conversion rates on your website so that a smaller marketing budgets can still yield more customers.
To tackle this issue, more and more companies are turning to real-time testing solutions. With a real-time testing programme, companies can quickly determine the optimal copy and offers to maximise that conversion rate.
Here are five tips to help ensure smooth sailing as you dip your toes into the real-time testing waters:
Start testing before doing a website redesign
Often, companies feel that they are not ready to start a real-time testing programme because they first want to do a complete site redesign. Their game plan is to get the new site live, and then start testing to improve it even more.
However, once the new site launches, the company is faced with a humbling reality: their conversion rates actually go down. And since they've redesigned everything they have no idea what has caused the drop.
Thus, to prevent this, it is advisable to start testing before doing the redesign. This way, you can learn what are the most critical factors that influence conversions. This information can then be used to fine-tune the site redesign, so that creative resources are spent in the areas that have proven to move the needle.
Think beyond the first test
When most companies embark on a testing programme, the first place they'll choose to test will be a static landing page. This is a great place to start as you can begin to learn the ropes of testing on a page that is less mission-critical than other pages downstream, like a product page or a credit card page.
Without question though, eventually you are going to want to test these pages because the returns can be great. For example, for most e-commerce sites, every transaction needs to go through the credit card page. So a 10% improvement in conversion on a credit card page will directly result in a 10% increase in overall website sales.
Typically, these downstream pages are much more technologically complex, as they include dynamic content, secure content, error correction, and other complexities not found on a static page. So while it is advisable to start on simple pages, it is imperative that at the onset you think about where you will want to test in the future, and choose a technology that will also be able to handle these more complex situations.
Jump right into multivariate testing
Multivariate testing is clearly a superior testing methodology to the more basic A/B testing. While A/B testing will tell you the best solution out of two possible webpage permutations, multivariate testing lets you find the best solution out of hundreds or even millions of possible permutations.
Yet many companies choose to start with A/B testing because they fear that multivariate testing is too complex for them. But choosing A/B testing over multivariate testing is the equivalent of taking a horse to work rather than taking a car to work. The horse is easier to understand - its legs gallop and away you go. With the car, there is a lot of complexity under the hood. But fortunately, you don't have to worry about that complexity. You can just benefit from the greater speed and power that the car offers.
The same applies to multivariate testing. The math is complex, but fortunately, technology has been created so that you don't have to worry about the complex algorithms that go into it. You can just reap the benefits of testing more variables, more quickly, with more robust results.
Consider implications of adding test variables
Your initial tests will provide many answers for how to optimally design your website. But inevitably, these initial tests will also raise more questions. You might learn that changing the copy on a submit button increases conversion. But then you might ask: what is the impact if I change the location of that button?
It's critical to make sure that you have a technology solution that will let you conduct these follow-up tests without having to go back in and change or add code to the test page. Make sure that you have a solution that lets you control the entire page with one piece of code, rather than one that relies on a separate piece of code for each individual variable.
Optimise by audience personas
Visitors to a website come in all shapes and sizes. Different personas will behave very differently. For example, visitors coming directly from a search engine are typically further along in the buying cycle than visitors who simply click on an ad banner. As such, the right messaging for these two audiences will be very different. To maximise the value of testing, you want to make sure that you have a solution that not just optimises for your entire audience, but can actually go deeper and optimise by different persona groups.
The benefits from real-time testing can be substantial. Double-digit improvements in conversion in a matter of months is not uncommon. By following the tips above, you can help ensure that testing becomes a source of new-found revenue rather than a source of frustration.
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