Site Optimization and Targeting

All visitors are not the same, they can come in through different marketing channels, enter your site at different pages and view different parts of your site. One of the great things about the Web and the tools that we have, is that you can not only know that your visitors are doing different things, you can measure and then act on it. TV for example has to rely on sampled, panel services (i.e. Nielsen) where you might make an estimation about the different groups of people that saw your ad. On the Web, we know what visitors viewed and exactly who viewed it! If you have a robust analytics solution, you already have this data. The question is, what ,if anything, are you doing to act on it?

As an Omniture user, I have always relied heavily upon tools like Omniture Discover, because of the fact that it lets you segment your visitors into more meaningful groups. So, I can easily see for an e-commerce site, that the people clicking on the “View Larger Image” link on a product details page have a conversion rate that is 200% higher that those visitors that do not click on that link. Shouldn’t I be doing something about that? Like running a test to optimize that link for the visitors that have not been clicking it?

If you are currently or will be running a site optimization solution like Omniture Test&Target, you should always be running monitoring campaigns on your site. This can allow you to always be tracking and reporting on how different segments of your visitors are converting on your site, allowing you to quickly act by launching a test that is targeted towards a high-value segment of your visitors.

You should consider targeting your site optimization efforts towards different segments of visitors such as:

  • Logged in visitors (vs. not logged in)
  • Visitors from paid search campaigns
  • Visitors from natural search
  • Visitors using specific keyword phrases on search engines
  • Visitors from email campaigns
  • Visitors that stop at a certain point in your conversion funnel
  • First time visitors
  • Repeat visitors
  • Visitors that enter your site via a specific page
  • Visitors from a specific geographic location

Targeting your site optimization efforts to segments for visitors is usually more effective than just launching a test that is served to all visitors of your site as if they were equal. The reason, is that with different segments, you have an idea of their intentions. For example, if you are targeting a test that changes laptop product imagery for visitors that are entering your site after searching for “laptops” on Google, you know that your test is being served to the segment of visitors that is actively considering purchasing a laptop at this time or in the near future.

When considering site optimization, always ask yourself for which group or segment of visitors is this test targeted? You should see your site optimization efforts paying off more quickly if you are targeting your tests.

Creating a Hypothesis for Site Optimization

Creating a hypothesis should be one of the first things that you do when you start running A/B and multivariate tests on your Web site. Just because you have the keys to an optimization tool (even a free one like Google Web Site Optimizer), you should NOT be starting out saying, “hey, let’s see if changing this button from ‘Add To Cart’ to ‘Buy Now’ works better!” It’s vital to understand that you need to start with a hypothesis and then set clear goals before you start testing.

Setting a hypothesis is not a difficult thing to do, and it will help you stay clear on exactly what you are trying to accomplish in running a test. Here are a few examples of what might be appropriate hypotheses:

  • By changing the button on our product details page, we expect that we will be able to increase the rate at which visitors add products to their carts.
  • If we can decrease our shopping cart by one complete step, we can make it easier for customers to complete their purchase, thereby increasing conversion rate.
  • If we can provide more targeted information on our most popular landing pages, we can decrease bounce rates.
  • Maybe if we make it easier for visitors to use our internal search, visitors will more easily find products of interest, increasing conversion rate.
The common theme among all of these ideas/hypotheses is that none of them address, specifically, what will be done. This is the best way to start, because:
Creating and starting with a hypothesis, frees you from simply testing graphics and content, enabling you to test your business ideas and site effectiveness (i.e. conversion).

It is the hypothesis that you should be taking to the rest of your team when asking for the best user experience and design ideas to prove your hypothesis. You should not let a designer alone be the one that starts the process of site optimization.

Creating a hypothesis also makes it easier to measure the results of site optimization. If you start with just a design that is going to simply be “better than the last,” there’s no clear way to measure that. For example, if you were to change how you present your internal search results, is your success measure conversion rate, add to cart rate, product views or maybe average order value? There’s no real answer here, and starting a test without a hypothesis will result in a lot of debate over what success is when it comes time to evaluate the test.

Your hypothesis should make it clear what you are trying to improve, so that everyone can agree upon the success measure in advance of the test.

So if you start your testing and site optimization with an appropriate hypothesis, your goals and the eventual evaluation of your success should more easily fall into place.

More on Pages Not Being Worth Anything


Followup to “Pages Aren’t Worth Anything” from Jason Egan on Vimeo.

This is my first attempt at a video post here, so this might be a little rough. They should get better though!

Summary:

  • Pages aren’t worth anything, but what you’re selling is.
  • Testing and optimization should replace analytics in determining how effective a page is at conversion.
  • You should me optimizing and measuring the worth of your marketing accumen as opposed to some HTML. Look at a page or site this way. It is a marketing and sales tool. How good is it at marketing and selling? How good are you and making the site better at marketing and selling.

Your Pages Aren’t Worth Anything

I’m sure that some of you will disagree with the title of this post as soon as you see it, but hear me out (read me out?). Wether you are in publishing/content or straight up e-commerce, your pages are not making money inherently. Many executives and busines owners always have one of the two following question:

  1. “How much revenue has this page made?”
  2. “How well is this page converting?”

To preface the rest of this post and explain the title of this post, I am going to say that pages do not make money, and they do not convert. Crazy, I know. But, what does make you money and convert are the changes that you make to your pages.

Answering, “How much revenue has this page made?

 

I do not want to turn this into a debate about revenue attribution at the page view level, so I will leave that issue for another time. So let’s just assume that you have some kind of repor that has page names and dollar amounts next to those pages. The answer to the above question is:

“Does it matter what that revenue number is if you aren’t changing anything?”

So you can trend a page’s revenue over time. So what? Let’s say that you sell hair dryers (why was that the first thing that popped into my mind?). Your sales of hair dryers are what make you money, not the view of some page on your site. Afterall, you are selling hair dryers, not page views.

I also want to take this opportunity to address the publisher/content sites out there. News flash, you are selling something! Your selling ad views, and video ad plays, not page views or time spent (or “engagement” of all silly things).

You should not be asking how much a page makes for you. You need to be coming up with ideas that you think can make a page better, and testing those ideas to see if you can create lift! A page that just sits there and is never, or blindely changed isn’t doing you any good. Does it really matter how much you think a page makes over time if you’re not trying to make it better to begin with?

You changes, improvements and efforts make money and create lift. A page sitting there isn’t doing you any good.

Answering, “How well is this page converting?

 

Again, I would say that a page just sitting there is never converting any different that it ever has, so tracking the conversion rate of a page is pointless. You should be tracking how good YOU are at making changes that improve conversion.

Lift is as Important as Revenue and Conversion

 

Just like I feel that “engagement” is an excuse on the part of publisher/content sites, I feel that tracking how much a page makes or how well it converts is an excuse for not testing your pages and working on creating lift. If you really care how much a page is making or how well it’s converting, then you should have a hypothesis as to how you can make it better, and you should test that hypothesis to create lift.