August 26th, 2011.
A/B testing can lead to impressive gains and surprising results. In this post I would like to talk about our recent home page A/B test on an ecommerce store, when our treatment page decreased the goal we were measuring in Google Website Optimizer (GWO) by -11.2%, but still we declared the page a winner. And what a successful winner that was!
How could this be possible?
First of all, when we set up our test on the client home page, in GWO we set up as a success goal ‘free samples requested’ confirmation page. This was done at our client’s request, who believed that this was the most important success metric on his site, forgetting another metric like sales conversion rate.
After running the test for 2 weeks and calculating statistical validity of other site metrics using a Chi-Square statistical validation methodology, we concluded that we collected enough data to establish the treatment page, as a winning page, even though we decreased conversion rate on the ‘free samples requests’ goal we measured in GWO.
How could this be possible? Firstly, ecommerce stores have several important metrics like page conversion rate, revenue, $ Index value, # of transactions and purchased products etc. So when we analysed these data points we discovered that our treatment page performed as follows:
- Decreased free samples requests by -11.2%
However, the data from our client Google Analytics tool showed us very interesting results for other important site metrics.
- Page bounce rate was down by 22.08%
- $ index value up by 65.83%
- Page conversion rate up by 95.45%
- Revenue up 46.05%
- Number of transactions up by 65%
- Number of purchased products up by 46.42%
Variation 1 (treatment)
One interesting improvement we also observed was that our treatment page sent by over 300% less visitors to the ‘free samples request’ page, but of those visitors who we sent there, instead of 5.92% we converted 25.11%, thus increasing conversion rate by 324.15%. To remind you, we didn’t make a single change on that ‘free samples request’ page. This was achieved by adding more clarity to the offer on the test page, where we clearly stated what you get after you click.
As you can see, if we simply measured just one goal, then our treatment version would be declared as a loser, even though the treatment page increased monthly gross revenue by over 46%.
When running any test, don’t forget that there are other important metrics which could be impacted by your test and that in some cases, the goal you might think is important isn’t necessarily always the best metric.
Always use your analytics tool, and look at other metrics too, as you don’t want to unknowingly declare a test as a losing one for failing in a certain metric when in fact that change brought extra £20k in revenue and improved another 5 site metrics – as happened in this example.
Interested to find out how Datadial can help you increase your conversion and site revenue? Call us on 0208 6000 500, or request free conversion rate optimisation consultation & site analysis.
August 17th, 2011.
Goals and transactions don’t match in Google Analytics? The most common problem if goal conversions don’t match ecommerce transactions in Google analytics, is that your urls (pages) can be visited/accessed using both upper case and lower case characters.
This then causes Google analytics to report this page as two different pages, even though it was the same page, plus it automatically inflates the number of transactions. Moreover, your transactions then don’t match your order management system, which sooner or later will cause loss of faith in your web analytics.
Example of how this might look in your report:
To fix this, all you need to do is to set up a filter in Google Analytics, ‘Force url to lower case’. The filter looks like this:
Filter Name:Force Lowercase
Filter Type: Custom Filter, Lowercase
Filter Field: Request URI
After you set this filter, check back in a few days and your goals and transactions numbers in Google analytics should match as in this example below. NOTE: this will only fix the issue from the day this lower case filter was applied. Unfortunately, the data prior to the date when this filter was applied will stay unchanged.
When was the last time you had your Google Analytics tracking code audited? Can you 100% rely on your data? If in doubt, request your Free Google analytics tag audit.
Event tracking in Google analytics can be a painful task and it gets more complicated when your site has hundreds of outbound links, or downloadable documents you would like to track.
The good news is there are 2 options for how to track events (outbound links or files), manually or automatically with auto-tracking.
Option 1: Manual Tagging (complex, slow, prone to errors– recommended only for websites with a few outbound links or files to be tracked).
In this case we manually tag each link you would like to track. To log every click on a link to, for example, www.outbound.com, you would add an onClick event to outbound urls you wish to track:
<a href=”http://www.outbound.com” onClick=”recordOutboundLink(this, ‘Outbound Links’, ‘outbound.com’);return false;”>
Option 2: Auto-tracking - very easy & fast. Recommended for any website with large number of outbound links or files to be tracked.
Solution A; AnalyticsEngine provides you with a piece of script which you paste into your website just after your Google analytics and you’re done. No additional work or tagging required. In less than a minute you will be able to track thousands of outbound links or file downloads on your website.
This is how you see your results using solution from AnalyticsEngine
For small websites with a page views up to 100,000 per month this script is free. By the way, don’t confuse page views with visits. For example: 10,000 visits to your site can generate 4 page views per visit = 40,000 page views.
For websites with up to 1,000,000 page views the cost is $75 / month, plus there is an enterprise solution available as well. Considering how much time this saves you, it’s excellent value. Especially sites having a lot outbound affiliate links or downloads will greatly benefit from it.
Solution B; Or you can get similar script from advanced-web-metrics.com, for around $75 per domain (one off payment) and with no restriction on page views. No freebies here, however there is a 30 days money back guarantee and support from Brian Clifton, who is the author of an excellent book ‘Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics’ and former Head of Web Analytics for Google.
This solution won’t allow you to see clicked outbound links and file downloads under ‘Events’, but instead under ‘Content’ as page views. See the screenshot below.
And here when used auto-tracking used from advanced-web-metrics.com
(screenshot used from advanced-web-metrics.com)
July 14th, 2011.
Is brand awareness really important, or is it just hype? After reading a case study on ‘how catalogues drive online sales’, I did my own research with a focus on brand awareness, and analysed brand awareness on 2 small ecommerce sites, one of them with a catalogue, another without.
The result? Overall conversion rate on the site with a catalogue was 5.95%, while on the site with no catalogue, only 0.52%, a difference of 1,044%.
In order to calculate the impact of catalogues sent out to clients (offline marketing), we have to firstly establish where or how we find these people in your analytics tool. As these visitors receive your catalogue, we can therefore expect several ways how they get back to your site:
- type directly your specifically created vanity url for your catalogue (e.g. www.mysite.com/10off)
- or type your site url without the campaigned parameter
- or search for your company name using a search engine
- or dial your number on the catalogue and place a phone order. To be able to track this, you will need a call tracking solution which links with your Google analytics. Highly recommended, as it will allow you to assign your marketing to a relevant channel.
After we establish catalogue user behaviour, we need to find them in our web analytics. In Google analytics go to ‘traffic sources’ and get data for you ‘direct traffic’ and ‘search engine – paid and non paid brand keywords’. The data we need are: traffic amount and revenue generated. Let’s define what brand and direct traffic is first.
What is brand traffic? – These are the keywords people use to find your brand. For example, for Datadial.net, brand keywords could be ‘data’, ‘datadial’, ‘data dial’ and any misspellings of the brand name.
What is direct traffic? – These are visitors who type your domain name into their browser. NOTE: make sure your own company traffic is excluded by using filters in Google Analytics.
By combining brand traffic and the direct traffic you get ‘brand awareness index’ as a percentage of your overall traffic. So you will end up with number like xx% of visitors who visited my site used either my brand keyword or typed my url directly (direct traffic).
Exact calculation would be:
In terms of benchmarking, the higher the ‘brand awareness index’, the better. If your brand awareness index is 20-30% or less, that means people don’ t remember your company, site, product or service.
If your ‘brand index awareness’ is around 60+% then give yourself a high five, as everybody in the universe knows you! Well, not quite, as you would also like to find out what your market share is. Then give yourself high five if you also discovered that your market share is sound too.
Let’s jump now to some real examples.
In the example below, site A (no catalogue), with a ‘brand awareness’ of 20.92%, converted at 0.52%. Site B (with catalogue), with a ‘brand awareness’ of 65%, converted at 5.95%.
Notice one thing, site B received significantly less traffic, but the site revenue on both sites was almost identical. Also notice, that these visitors brought in both cases approx. 80% of site revenue.
So that leaves us with a question. What if I increased my site brand awareness from 20% to 60%? Is it going to have any impact on my revenue? And the answer is YES, because as we already know, direct and brand traffic conversion rate is higher, as you can see in this table below.
I hope you will find this useful and apply it to you next marketing strategy.
If you found this idea intriguing and would like to test it, call Jan at 0208 6000 500 and we will help you with calculating, planning and testing.
Goals in web analytics allow you to measure conversions on your website. So before you can start setting up goals, you need to know what actions (KPIs) are important for your business.
The most commonly used goals for ecommerce stores are:
- Sale completed
- Email sign up
- Help page visited
- About us page visited
- Return & delivery page visited
- Visitors who placed their order over the phone
NOTE: to be able to track revenue, average order value and what products you sold in Google Analytics, you will need a developer. See our Google analytics set up and audit prices.
Non-ecommerce websites goals could be:
- Contact us form completed
- About us page visited
- Contact us page visited
- Support page visited
- White paper download
- Pages/visit (useful for non-profit or news sites)
- Phone call tracking
Setting up goals for ecommerce stores – checkout:
Let’s say, your goal url is www.mysite.com /pages/checkout_thankyou.aspx. Below are screenshots illustrating how exactly to set up the goal in Google Analytics so you can track your sales.
URL – don’t use the full url. Instead of www.mysite.com /pages/checkout_thankyou.aspx, use /pages/checkout_thankyou.aspx
Goal value – leave it as 0.0 (for goals directly tracking ecommerce transactions), as additional ecommerce tracking codes installed on an order confirmation page will give us the exact value of each order.
Any other goals should have a value assigned to them. If you can’t calculate an exact value of each goal, then you can use value of 10.
Always set up a funnel, as this feature allows you to visualize each step and where your visitors are bailing out. Name it so you can easily associate with actual pages.
After we saved the goal, we need to install ecommerce tracking code on your order confirmation page (job for a developer). See our Google analytics set up and audit prices.
For more instruction regarding the code above go to http://code.google.com/apis/analytics/docs/tracking/gaTrackingEcommerce.html.
If any sales were made, then usually after 4-12 hours you should be able to see your transactions being tracked. If you made some sales within 24 hour period, but still can’t see any conversions being tracked in your analytics, then your goal isn’t set up properly.
With the goal and the funnel being tracked, you can see at which step your visitors are leaving and then with A/B testing you can try to fix it.
The process to set up goals for non-ecommerce sites is very similar, but with the following differences:
- No ecommerce tracking code required on your confirmation page
- Goal value – Very important. Either calculate your actual value per lead if you are able to monetize it, or try to use a goal value of 10, 50 or 100 (never leave at zero on non-ecommerce sites). This way you will be able to see in the analytics how valuable each page is in terms of contributing towards a goal. This will also help during conversion optimisation to find the lowest & highest performing pages.
At the beginning of the June, our email marketing platform went through some enhancements in features and functionality, including mobile/SMS features (available July, 2011), Facebook and Twitter integrations, and the new workflow automation canvas.
Send Time Optimisation
For each contact, send time optimisation automatically schedules email messages to send at the time of day, and optionally the day of the week, the contact is most likely to open emails from you. You should avoid using send time optimization for time sensitive deliveries where you want control over when the email is sent. If a contact is new or we don’t have sufficient open time data for a contact, the delivery will be made using the time you choose using the Send message now or Send at this time radio buttons.
NOTE: send time optimisation option is only enabled in advanced options when sending your email campaign.
Workflows (available end of June, 2011)
With workflows you can specify combinations of triggers, filters, and actions that determine how to handle contact data, and what marketing communications to send them.
By integrating your email account with a Facebook account you’ll be able to add a Like button to email messages and webforms, schedule & post Facebook messages, let contacts sign-up using their Facebook information, and map Facebook data to contact fields. You can also trigger workflows based on if someone liked a status, liked a page, commented on a status, or posted to a page.
As with Facebook integration, integrating your account with your Twitter account allows you to post to Twitter and track the posts made via the application. You can also trigger workflows based on whether a contact mentions or retweets a Twitter username you have setup in your account.
Support For QR Codes
QR codes allow you to encode a URL into an image that you can add to email messages. If a contact prints out the email, they can take a picture of the QR code with their smart phone and they will be redirected to the URL you specified for the QR code. Read more about What’s a QR code.
Redesigned Message Overview Page
Redesigned message overview page now includes more information about metrics associated with email messages, as well as the delivery groups which an email message has been added to.
Auto-Saving of Messages
This new feature will auto-save your messages automatically to the Drafts folder every minute. That way, if you forget to save a message or your computer crashes, you will still be able to access the version of the message you were working on. The Drafts folder is automatically created for you when this feature is enabled.
Message Approval Prior to Sending
When enabled, all newly created messages will require approval before they can be send. To enable go to: Home > Settings > General >
2 minutes tour
30 minutes webinar
If you ever seen this strange looking black & white square in any form of advertising on a bus, train, email, business card etc., then you met a QR code.
What is a QR code?
The definition on Wikipedia says – QR code is a specific matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code) that is readable by dedicated QR barcode readers.
Country of origin
Japan. Approved by AIM International (Automatic Identification Manufacturers International) standard (ISS – QR Code) in October 1997.
How do you read it?
You need an iPhone or Android phone with installed QR code reader.
What does this code contain?
An URL to a website you try to promote, or text, phone number or SMS (check our QR code to see what’s there).
Is it good for anything useful?
If you think creatively there are many ways that you can use QR codes to promote your business such as on labels, business cards, storefront displays, and embedding promotions and discounts and links to Facebook.
QR codes are already widely used in Japan and increasingly in the UK. I guess the more tech savvy people will be more amenable to them.
How other companies use it?
- On their business cards – by placing a QR code on your business card you allow the receivers to save your business card details without any typing
- In print/magazines – will take a reader directly to your website, without typing your URL
- On billboards and in advertising on public transport
- On products
Couple of good marketing ideas how to use QR codes I collected from the net
Put a tag 20 feet tall on billboards all over the country. People in cars take a picture of it, and some of them unlock URLs that win Xboxes and Kinects. Regardless, think big.
Make them surprising & unpredictable – the more surprises, innovative ideas and unexpected offers will be hidden in these QR codes, the more will people check them. Beware of increased number of ‘treasure hunters’ checking every single QR code they come across and leaving your site as quickly as they came, if not a ‘treasure’ found there.
May 3rd, 2011.
Goal of the test – increase number of downloads
Technology used – Google Website Optimizer
Test duration – 5 weeks
Confidence level achieved – 98.6%
We conducted an A/B test on Dowce.com website to find out which version would increase number of downloads. Both versions were similar, but in the version B (treatment) we improved the following:
- removed the call to action from the header in order to focus visitors on our main call to action in the body
- improved the headline
- added bullets points with improved value proposition
- improved the call to action (bigger and more visible)
- improved the layout, by dividing the sections so it is easier to scan the page
A: Control B: Treatment – 24.8% improvement
This A/B test showed that conversion rate optimisation is very effective marketing method with measurable results, which allows you to increase your revenue and conversion from your current traffic.
To see, what difference a change in conversion rate by 20% or more can make to your business download our conversion improvement calculator.
If you are looking to improve your website conversion rate or would like to learn how we can help request your free consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0208 6000 500.
April 21st, 2011.
Having a good ‘About Us’ page allows you to show off who you are, what you do and it allows to make people more comfortable doing a business with your company. Unfortunately, this page is being sometimes overlooked, as the perception is that it’s not that important.
However, according to a Stanford Web Credibility Research, they derived 10 guidelines/factors which effects websites credibility, 3 of them relating to your ‘about us’ page (based on a 3 year, 5500 person study):
- Show that there is a real organization behind your site
- Highlight the expertise in your organization
- Show that honest and trustworthy people stand behind your site
Naturally, testing a different version of your ‘About us’ page should be on your to-do test list. Unfortunately, in most cases ‘About us’ pages get at most several hundred visitors per month, which is not enough to come with statistically valid results within your 6 weeks test period. In this case, here is the list of 3 must have things an ‘About us’ page for small and medium businesses should definitely have if you want to get more sales:
3 Must Haves
- Pictures of your office and your team
- A passionate story behind your company showing your values
- Peoples bio (credentials, certificates, training)
Here is the list of some ‘About us’ pages for your inspiration.
www.technologywithpassion.com (nice animation)
www.tribal.nl (nice animation)
Business (ecommerce + service + corporate) examples:
April 19th, 2011.
In the site search box test part 1, we discovered by analysing web analytics data that visitors using site search are 2-3 times more valuable than those that don’t use site search. Conversion rate difference was also by 168% higher when site search was used. Also, per visit value was 132% greater when site search was used.
In the second part I would like to talk about more advanced, more costly but probably more rewarding test – a site search result page test.
Who is this test for?
Any website where the site search result page doesn’t allow result filtering by category, price, brand etc… or simply looking to improve search functionality, stickiness, conversions and retention by using more robust, intelligent 3rd party site search.
Goal of the test
We would like to find out if using more sophisticated 3rd party ecommerce site search will help you to increase your conversion rate and whether the investment is worth the money.
Why should you test?
You read a case study that better search result pages convert more and that visitors who use site search convert 2 – 3 times better than those not using a site search. You get very excited and decide to approach a 3rd party search provider. However, you discover the investment into a new site search can be substantial (e.g. $25,000+ annually for Google ecommerce search) so you would like find out if you can justify the cost.
How should you test?
What you want to do is to test both site search engines at the same time, something like A/B test comparing 3rd party site search vs. yours. However, there is a caveat. A/B testing won’t work in this case, as the site search box, where it all starts, is on every single page on your site and you would like to capture any search query from any page on your site. So, for this reason we need to set up a site wide test using a multivariate test strategy, showing exactly the same site search box, but the results leading either to your current site search or to the 3rd party site search you are trying to evaluate.
How do you measure success?
By comparing number of sales and a conversion rate in your testing tool
How many visits with site search do I need?
At least 5,000-10,000 visits per month with site search. For fast and statistically valid result 20,000+.
Contact Jan to see how we can help you with your ecommerce site search testing, A/B or multivariate testing or to request your free consultation: email@example.com or call 0208 6000 500 ext. 231
April 18th, 2011.
Even with all the buzz about conversion rate optimisation, there are still businesses which haven’t tried it yet. To get you started, I came up with a very simple and inexpensive idea every ecommerce store should test. Your site search box position & size test.
OK, so what’s so special about the site search and why should you give it a go?
1. Generally the conversion rate of visitors who used a site search is 2-3 times higher than those without, as is the per visit value. In our example below conversion rate difference is 168% higher when site search has been used. Also per visit value is 132% greater.
2. On average, around 8-20% of sites’ visitors use a site search, but they bring between 17-33% of overall revenue.
3. The test itself isn’t that difficult to implement and could be up and running in less than 8 hours, however this type of test and implementation will require a knowledgeable person to set up the test.
A little something about the site search box test: this type of tests falls under so called “site wide” tests. With site wide test implementation, the tested variations are going to be the same on every page on your website.
Speak to Jan for more information on A/B or multivariate testing or to request your free consultation: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0208 6000 500 ext. 231
This week I visited an email workshop “Email Best Practices from Sign-up to Delivery” in London presented by Dr. Philip Rhodes, Ph.D. from One to One. Dr. Rhodes reviewed email newsletters and sign up process from the top 20 UK online retailers, which I believe many of you who are looking to improve your email marketing will find very useful.
I hope this study will help you to look at your own email marketing program through fresh eyes and that by applying some of these email marketing best practises outlined here and using top 20 UK retailers as your benchmark, you will be able to gain a significant improvement.
List of the UK retailers included in this study:
Sign up process findings:
• 18/20 sites had a link to sign-up on the homepage
• 2/20 had links on deeper pages
• 12 sites sent immediate email confirmation
• No newsletters received within 24 hours
• Only 8/20 newsletters received (within 3 weeks of sign-up)
• River Island & Next performed the best
• Play was the worst
Best practices – sign up process:
1. Include Sign-up on the homepage
2. Sign up should be located towards the top of the page (at least above the fold)
3. Should be accompanied by an image or icon e.g. an envelope to draw attention
4. Ensure sign-up requires minimal data entry e.g. name and email address
5. Include a short sentence stating the benefits of signing up e.g. promotions, stay up to date with news and events etc
6. Do not require any unnecessary information to be entered (such as postal address, income, etc.)
7. Do not require users to ‘create an account’ or ‘become a member’ of the site
8. Consider including a short second step/page allowing users to customise the newsletter by selecting specific areas of interest
9. Provide a ‘select all’ tick box or ‘general newsletter’ opt in
10. Provide a link to the latest newsletter so that users know what to expect before subscribing
11. Do not require users to re-enter information e.g. do not request name / email address a second time
12. Include a clear indication on the website that the subscription process is complete and has been successful
13. Ideally include a clear, separate confirmation page with different content
14. Include a clear thank you message on this page
15. Provide an indication of what the user can expect next i.e. email confirmation
16. Send email confirmation immediately
17. User should not need to ‘reconfirm’ the subscription
18. Ensure consistency with site i.e. branding and logo, etc.
19. Include information about newsletters e.g. frequency and type of content
20. Include a link back to the website
21. Include a link to unsubscribe
22. Include contact details
Best practices – newsletter:
1. Include a clear and catchy subject line so that the user immediately recognises the email
2. Ensure consistency with the site in terms of branding e.g. logo, layout, etc.
3. Include links to the site and ensure that they are clear e.g. logo and url address
4. Do not include hidden links e.g. decorative images or plain text
5. Include links to social networking sites and to share the newsletter
6. Links to the social network site e.g. Facebook page
7. Ensure that the e-mail is personalised – use of first name, etc.
8. There must be a clear option to ‘unsubscribe’. This must not be hidden within text
9. Do not use terms such as ‘remove’ or ‘opt out’. Instead use ‘unsubscribe’
10. Provide a real address, phone number or other similar contact details about the sender
11. Do not include excessive amount of text
12. Limit the length of the e-newsletter, do not cause the user to vertically scroll excessively. Test this to find what works the best for you.
Don’t forget about your landing pages!
Another very important part of your email marketing is the landing pages on your site. If you say in your email for example ‘20% off’ or ‘free delivery’, make sure the same message is carried through and shown on your website or at least on a landing page so you meet the set expectation.
In this example below you can see a screenshot from one newsletter promising me 25% off and showing me some bracelets, necklaces, earrings and rings. The subject line was: Twenty-five reasons to give (and get) jewelry.