The one thing that digital marketing allows you to do that traditional advertising cannot is the ability to test out every single pixel on a web page to try to make these web pages work to the maximum benefit.
You have limited resources and you’d need every page, pixel, and element to work in your favor. The only way you’d know what works and what doesn’t is when you do A/B testing or multivariate testing for your web properties.
While A/B testing is a must for everything you use for digital marketing – such as websites, landing pages, the headlines, email subject lines, Ads you use for Google Adwords or Facebook ads – we’ll focus on testing the various elements of your regular website.
Normally, if your website is built on WordPress or HTML5/CSS3, your only options until now were to use Optimizely and Visual Website Optimizer (both of them are great tools, of course).
But then, the big daddy Google now released what’s called as Google Optimize which makes use of your existing analytics account and helps you test out your web pages, completely for free.
Using Google Optimize, you can setup “experiments” to test out:
- Your homepage design
- Contact pages
- About page
- Landing Pages
- Product pages
- Shopping carts
- Thank you pages, and more
You can also run Multivariate tests and Redirect tests in addition to A/B testing.
Google helpfully says this:
Before performing tests on your most popular web pages (like your home page) consider starting small first, which will allow you to experiment with lower-risk pages.
Keep in mind that you’ll need to test pages with enough traffic to get results quickly.
Start by experimenting with the color of a button, the copy in a call to action, or the order of a navigation bar. After completing a few experiments, graduate to testing headlines, images and landing pages when you’re ready.
Here’s how you do it:
Get access to Google Optimize
Go here and sign up for your Google Optimize Account
Once you have access to Google optimize, you’d only have to link to your Google Analytics account, select your website (and the corresponding view), and create a “container”.
Note: You can only have three experiments running at any given time with your free Google Optimize account. If you need more, you’d have to use the premium version called Google Optimize 360 which is a part of Google Analytics 360 Suite.
Here’s how the features stack up:
Setup Your Experiment
After you link your Google Analytics account and you are all ready to go, you’ll see that your website now shows up Google Optimize.
You’ll also notice that your website now shows up as the original version for testing. You’d now have to create a second version (Version B) to test it against your original version A.
For the purposes of keeping it simple, let’s just assume that you want to test out the hero section of your home page.
My experiment involves testing the headline on the hero section of my page. Presently, it says “Learn digital marketing for free”. I might want to test this against a new version (because I never know what works until I test things out).
The original version of the hero section of your home page is my version A. In my example, it’s as shown below
Version A: LEARN DIGITAL MARKETING FOR FREE
Version B: 10 MILLION+ OPPORTUNITIES FOR DIGITAL MARKETERS. ARE YOU READY FOR IT YET?
Obviously, you might start with apportioning 50% of all your incoming traffic to either of the versions.
Let your original version be. However, for the second version that you are testing against the original one, make necessary changes such as changing your headline on the hero section, for instance.
When you are done, this is how your experiment will look like:
Be sure to also setup your primary objective, secondary objective, and place notes on the description and hypethesis just so that you remember what you were running these A/B tests for.
Run Your Experiments
It’ll take a while for you to gather enough traffic (and hence data) for your experiments with Google Optimize. After you start running your experiments, let these experiments run for a couple of days or weeks (depending on how much traffic you get).
Wait for a few days and click on the “reporting” tab to see how you fare with your experiments. Have you used Google Optimize yet? Did you run any experiments off late? Please do share your experiences with me.
It’s one thing to get numerical data from your analytics tools. The usual KPIs you’d be watching like a hawk are visits (new visitors), page views, conversions, form conversions, time spent on site, bounce rate, and many more.
Truly, watching over those numbers is truly a gift digital marketing gives you (try to get similar stats for all that radio and newspaper spend you do, if you ever do).
Google analytics tells you how many people came and they arrived from which source exactly (along with tons of other crucial information).
Google Analytics also shows you behaviour flows which show you the exact path visitors take from one page to another, and then to another.
Most of the answers to those questions don’t lie in those numbers you get from Google Analytics; these answers are hidden in all those things visitors do “after” they land on your website pages.
Those numbers don’t tell you the complete picture. For instance, you have no idea about:
- What exactly happens after your visitors reach your website pages or landing pages?
- What exactly do they do?
- What do they click on?
- They scroll. But by how much? How deep? How engaged are they?
- Do your forms convert at all?
- Where do they go from your home page?
- What do they click on and what don’t they click on?
- How do they scroll your pages (and to what extent do they scroll?
- What happens when all those pop ups, livechat windows, and push notifications show up on your website?
- What elements are showing up the way they ought to and what doesn’t show up as expected?
- Are your visitors able to get to your high-intent, converting landing pages on the website?
- Are visitors able to fill up the contact forms or other forms on your website? Are those contact forms even working?
You won’t find the answers with Google Analytics. You’d need more. In essence, you’d need tools like Mouseflow to help answer these questions. But it’s not just heat maps and user session replays that you’d get with Mouseflow.
You also get:
- Geographic data for all your visitors
- Complete recordings of user sessions –exactly as they occur on your site.
- Time stamped data on what exactly happens where, and how.
- Through click data, heat maps, and form analytics
- Exact replay on how your website itself shows up — including all the bells and whistles that you have on your site.
- A thorough visual display of what your visitors or users experience when they land on your website.
Using session replays, there are a huge number of things you could fix on your website.
Here are some of them:
Don’t Stand Out, Blend In
Imagine this: A visitor arrives. She gets a prompt for a push notification (right on the top center of the browser). She clicks “no”.
Just while she’s about to navigate to our resources page (which is where most of our visitors go to) or to read our blog, to check out our resources section, or to dip their beak into our “perks” page.
By the time she navigates to the page she wants, our GoSquared Livechat prompt would show up.
Usually, she doesn’t talk. She’s just not in the mood for it.
Tremendous will power she does have and so she ignores the livechat prompt and heads to the resources section. She spends 2 minutes on that page and decides to leave.
Only to meet another pop up nudging her to download some kind of a content upgrade.
What does all this tell you?
It’s irritating for the user. We can’t help but push her gently, hold her hand, and nudge her with pop ups but we do know it’s annoying for her.
It’s working for us but it’s still annoying for her.
What do you do?
The answer: always keep testing.
Experiment with timings, the URLs those pop ups must show at, and decide just how much you want to annoy your visitors.
We understand you need results. But you’d also do well to care for your visitors. The only way to draw a fine balance is when you do testing.
How do you test? How do you determine what’s annoying and how much?
Use Mouseflow to find out.
What’s Missing, Charlie?
When we last did a review of our website using Mouseflow’s analytics and session replays, we found this:
- Our portfolio items were completely missing
- The portfolio items, for those that did show up, had the elements (text and images) completely screwed up.
- We found a few tags and categories that had no content associated with them.
- The main CTA button on our home page leads to nowhere when users click on it.
- Sometimes, the hero section (our most important section of the website) doesn’t load properly and often has the headline and the sub headline missing (especially on tablets and mobile devices).
- Our contact form didn’t work at all.
- The big fat image on the contact page did not show up. Instead, there was an empty space with nothing on it.
- Our blog’s “read more” button wasn’t showing up
Those are just some of the many missing things on our website. This is on top of the fact that we work on our website every single day.
Can you guess what an average small business website which isn’t even checked regularly for these missing elements might feel like for an average user of those websites? Before all the big talk about UX/UI experiences, it only makes sense to take care of the basics.
Hunt for The Annoying, Obstructing, Website Elements
Often, we tend to assume that those pop ups don’t annoy and that the livechat feature we just paid for and installed should work great to get us leads.
Leads? Forget about that.
Some elements on our websites are outright annoying. We once did a complete website review for a client (and we do it often for ourselves) and notice that the particular livechat tool that the client was using would cover up the entire screen when users visited their pages (all pages).
On the mobile mode, users don’t even get to see the website in full. They are usually slapped by a big ugly livechat pop-up
What? That Doesn’t Work?
As you go through your session replays and recordings, you’ll be surprised just how much information you’d gather about all those individual moving parts on your website.
- The feature image on your blog post tends to push the sidebar away to some unknown corner.
- The Image within a blog post or a web page doesn’t show up anymore.
- You’d meet all those new 404 error pages you had no idea about.
- You’ll get a cursory glance of the links that don’t work anymore.
- Say hello to your contact form that doesn’t work anymore.
- So, they clicked on your “portfolio” and they see nothing there except the name of the project?
The larger your website is the more information you get about all those things that don’t work on your website. It’s been a few months since this website has been revamped and I see see some links that don’t work, images that don’t load, and complete website pages that don’t exist (but are still being linked to).
You could do full website audits and reviews with Mouseflow. Or just find out what’s missing on your website. If you want to get advanced, figure out how well your website is working for you to get you the results you want by keeping tab on form analytics, form conversions, scroll ratios, scroll depths, heat maps, and more.
Whatever you do, don’t just assume that your website will work just the way it is.
How well is your website working for you? What kind of hidden problems do you think you can dig out of your session replays?
We all know websites are mandatory but just “any” site won’t do.
While websites need design that converts for business goals, customers of almost all profiles and personas now live on the web — they travel, rove, and almost developed an inane sense to use mobile first instead of the regular laptops or desktops.
In the middle of all this, it dawned on business owners, medium and large companies, and possibly everyone on the web that speed is of essence.
Just as it was for cars and electronic gadgets, performance matters.
Website speed not only enhances your website’s appeal but also makes it easier and faster to deliver content. Plus, there are obvious benefits with respect to search optimization. It’s time you increase your website speed.
Here are some ways on How to Increase Website Speed and tools you should be considering to make your web pages load faster:
Managed WordPress hosting is one of those incredible finds credited to the popularity of wordpress itself. FlyWheel is currently the fastest (and comparatively affordable) managed wordpress hosting solutions available today. Whether you are a creative agency, design house, web development agency, a hosting provider, or even a small business or individual with a wordpress website, you should consider moving to Flywheel.
Flywheel provides you with Free Migrations, blazing fast speeds (Flywheel website itself oads at 916 milliseconds), staging area for testing, CDN, multisite options, caching, malware protection, and free malware removal.
It’s not a CDN and but’s a web hosting platform (CDN is optional) with a huge difference: it owns data centers in the UK,Japan, and the U.S. Your WordPress install doesn’t require caching plugins, and uses its own proprietary everchache technology — all built in and managed by them. Not you.
Scoring top points when it comes to the availability of dev tools, scale, storage, speed, security, and top notch support, WPEngine is one of the best companies to host your website at.
Amazon Cloud Front is perhaps one of the most popular CDN services available to everyone today and it boasts of high transfer speeds, low latency, automatic device detection, geo targeting, cache behaviours, Cross Origin Resource Sharing (CORS), HTTP cookies, Query string parameters, and a lot more.
While it might sound all that complicated, the technology works from inside the hood. For a business owner or a website owner looking for faster loading websites, all this magic just goes to work.
What if you have more on your “I am so concerned about this” list than just web speed? What about Internet security? Protection from DDOS attacks? Is there a way you can get a CDN that also has an equal focus on security? With Incapsula, you very well can.
Incapsula is a CDN network too but it also provides your website with features to help you to counter DDOS attacks, deploy load balancing & failover, and many other features.
All inbound traffic to your website is routed through Incapsula’s CDN which filters traffic checking for Malware, attacks, and hacking attempts. Meanwhile, your site itself is plugging into Incapsula’s CDN which accelerates your site’s performance.
MaxCDN uses its own proprietary MaxArchitecture with MaxPops, MultiPath Network, and FastStack to power your website speeds. Some of the best features of MaxCDN are its real time reporting and analytics engines that give you instant, real-time data for you to make informed decisions from.
It allows for complete automation along with integration with their API and GitHub. With MaxCDN’s EdgeRules, you can control content delivery on your own.
The solution is built for advertising, gaming, publishing, software deployment, and more.
For any average website, Cloudflare is probably the easiest CDN network to hook on to. It’s quick, and the setup is instant. Websites hosted on Cloudflare load at least twice as fast while using about 60% less bandwidth and 65% fewer server requests.
Cloudflare also has tons of security features built in to protect your site. Meanwhile, the CDN network makes it easy for integration with WordPress – one of the most popular Content Management Systems in the world today – using a plugin.
Akamai is an established multi-service player with solutions ranging from website performance to solutions for network operators, services and support operations, media delivery solutions, and cloud networking solutions. On the content delivery front, Akamai provides IP Application acceleration, web application, acceleration, global traffic management, Fast DNS services, and dynamic site acceleration.
Although the pricing is not as straightforward as the rest of its counterparts, it’s certainly a long-standing and established vendor you can depend on for managing your website performance and security needs.
RackSpace Cloud Files
RackSpace partners with Akamai (above) and provides you with a CDN service backed by RackSpace’s famous “paranoid customer support”. Using more than 200 global edge locations around the world, your website visitors are fed with pages faster than normal. Its CDN caches your content for maximum acceleration.
Meanwhile, there are no additional charges, no contracts, and no minimum usage. Rackspace also supports SSL, CNAME, and provides Edge Purge.
If companies like Microsoft, Bank of America, and Adobe use a particular CDN network, would you like to use it too? You can, with CacheFly. The company has a rock solid reputation and allows you to deliver your content (including images, video, audio, CSS, and more) up to 10 times faster than any other network. You have a 100% guarantee or you can take your money back.
Of course, depending on your actual needs, you can choose from optimised and focused services such as Video delivery, Podcast delivery, website performance, software distribution, and more.
The need for speed is evident. How fast does your website load? What are you doing about it?