by Courtney Gordner
A few years ago, Domino’s Pizza rolled out a completely new recipe for its trademark main dish. Market research had shown that people didn’t really like the flavor of the old, cardboardy pizza the chain had been selling for decades. Instead of running more specials or criticizing its competitors, Domino’s spent lots of time and money experimenting with different sauces, cheeses and crusts to find the very best-tasting pizza it could produce.
The result? Quarterly increases in revenue that hit seven percent during third quarter of last year, and a huge boost in customer satisfaction with the pizza’s quality. The conclusion? Experimentation can deliver boffo results.
The same is true online. Rather than try to guess what combinations do or don’t drive results on your website, you’re better off putting your choices to the test by using the Google Analytics Content Experiments tool to see how different formats, keywords and pictures perform best. Use the tips below to help your company figure out what’s best for your site.
Understand the Details
You’d be amazed at the number of people who use the Content Experiment tool without really understanding what it does or how to implement it. If you want to get the best results, make sure you are intimately familiar with this tool. Read tutorials and play around by running smaller tests before trying your first major experiment.
Track Your Variables
The Google Analytics tool allows you to test up to six different variations of the same page. You’d be wise to utilize all six, but make sure that you have a reasoned approach for what you choose. For example, you may want to use the same keywords on three of them and different ones on the three others to compare what works best. You may also want to swap in different photos or colors.Make sure to thoroughly label your tweaks in the experiment tool so that there’s no confusion over which is which.
Set a Specific Experiment Goal
Some people try to work around this step because they haven’t yet determined their goal. If you’re serious about finding the best combination for your website, you should give some thought to your goal before you set up the experiment. For example, say you have a shop that sells hardware options. Your goal might be to drive brand awareness in order to increase traffic to the brick-and-mortar store.
That goal also serves a second important purpose: It will help you figure out whether you’re striving too hard for a goal that’s out of reach or if you’re setting your sights too low with a goal that’s easily achieved. However, make sure your goal is not related to an ecommerce transaction, as Google does not allow for this.
Keep on Top of the Results
Google will track your results for three months, and the experiment will expire after that. Make sure to check in regularly with your experiment, but don’t start drawing conclusions until you have at least a month’s worth of data to work with. In fact, Google requires an experiment to run for a minimum of two weeks.
The Content Experiments tool will also ask you what percentage of your site’s traffic you want to use in the experiment. Many people are wary of the word “experiment” being tied into their site at all, and so they choose a low percentage. Keep in mind that the more traffic you experiment on, the faster you’ll reach your goal and the bigger your test group will be, leading to more reliable results.
In addition, Google will automatically use a dynamic traffic-allocation function, which essentially starts funneling people to the page that produces the highest traffic if the other ones in the experiment are lacking. That way your site won’t suffer too much if one of your test subjects is a real dud.
Courtney Gordner is a blogger with a passion for all things internet, social media and SEO! Read more from her on her own blog.
Robert Scoble | Courtesy of Author