How to get ideal test conditions (and results)

4 03 2008

A big mistake in testing is to overlook variables inside and outside of the test that impact results. In an ideal test, the only variables would be the ones you are testing on your page. That usually isn’t possible though, but as long as you account for them in your analysis, you will get correct and actionable information.

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If you test a seasonal page, then the optimal page you get for that season, probably won’t perform when the season ends. By not paying attention to those kind of variables, you are setting yourself up into thinking you’ve found the optimal page. The same type of mistake is made by grouping e-mail, print, SEM campaigns and event traffic, unless you know they react the same to your changes.

Even within segments, there might be more segments to uncover. Your only limitation should be traffic; don’t segment so granular that you can’t run a decent sized test in a decent amount of time.

One of my clients doesn’t get a lot of traffic, but the traffic he does get is very distinct. One converts in the single digits and the other converts in the teens. Although combining them would get me more data, it would be very confused data since they convert so differently.

A few things to look out for:

  • The ad or offers visitors see beforehand
  • Interactions between your factors (if you aren’t testing interactions)
  • Technical problems
  • Problems that occur before or after the tested page

A note about the last bullet, the problems can range from a technical problem to a problem with the overall funnel. If people get different experiences in the funnel that drastically impact whether they convert or not, it can add a noise to your test. Some examples are different checkout processes for registered and non-registered users or users being inelligible for service.

The purpose of testing is to find out if a certain element performs well under the conditions you provide. If you aren’t paying attention to all the conditions, then the results you derive will be incorrect without you knowing.

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3 ways to maximize PPC and Landing Page Optimization

7 02 2008

New URL testingblog.widemile.com

Quality PPC and LPO campaigns are key to great conversion rates. If either of them are optimized, you might get good results, but with both of them optimized, your gains are exponential. There are a few pitfalls in optimizing them both though, even with good intentions you may end up confusing your results rather than getting results.

PPC and Landing Page Optimization

Here are 3 methods to effectively optimize your PPC and landing pages:

  1. Do one at a time: Test out your new PPC strategy, but wait until your landing page testing is done. Changing your PPC means you’re changing the audience, both in demographics and expectations. This will impact your landing page testing. Once you find a winning PPC campaign, test the same messaging on your landing page. This is the easiest way to optimize both, but the next two are better ways to go.
  2. Do them simultaneously: If you are testing 2 PPC strategies, create 2 separate landing page tests to match the respective campaigns and drive traffic solely to the matching test. This avoids biasing the PPC that better matches your landing page.
  3. Segment all the way through: For segments you know you’re going to have, make them go to different landing pages. Test your pages and separately track how each segment performs. Sometimes all your segments respond best to the same landing page, but often times your segments want something different and it’ll show in your testing results. Also, if you’re doing #2 and realize that the ROI is good enough for both campaigns, break it out and optimize them separately.

These are basic, but very effective methods to maximize testing both your PPC and landing pages. If you want to get actual and sustainable results, you have to control as many variables as possible. Only when you can trust your data, will it perform how you expect. Follow any of these methods and you’ll be on your way to higher conversions.