Getting traffic to your website is just one part of your marketing effort. Once your visitors arrive there, you must still convert them to buyers, or you've just wasted your advertising dollars. In order to recognize how you can improve your conversion rates, you have to figure out why the unresponsive segment of your visitors aren't purchasing. That's where testing and tracking come in – they identify areas needing improvement and reveal which "improvements" actually produce a better response.
You Can't Test What You Can't See...
Tracking is the beginning, according to successful internet marketer David Bullock, of DavidBullock.com. "Tracking means observing what's happening on your site," explains Bullock. "You're looking at how many people are hitting particular pages, how long they're staying, where they're leaving, and so on." Tracking basically shows you where your marketing dollars are paying off, and where you need to begin making changes.
A Difference You Can Spend
Testing is the process of implementing those changes and analyzing the results. There are several different kinds of testing you can use:
• Split testing involves comparing one element of your site versus another, against a stream of traffic. For example, you might create two identical PPC ads, each leading to a particular landing page on your web site, but with one page slightly different than the other. You can use this approach to test sales copy, headings, images, placement, even pricing – anything you can see on a page can be tested.
• Multivariate testing involves comparing multiple items and combinations of items. You're looking to see how consumers will respond to a particular page rendered in a particular way.
• The Taguchi method of testing is a complex, but highly accurate form of multivariate testing. It involves using 18 different landing pages, or creative elements, to simulate 4,000 different tests. The background math tells you, not only which combination works best, but also which elements on the page are most influential, so you know where to concentrate your efforts.However, it's important to understand that testing is not a magic bullet – to get the best results, you must input good content and design to start with.
In the last few years, tracking and testing have gone from being limited in scope and cost-prohibitive to being thorough, accurate, and readily accessible. Google Analytics has made Urchin software available for free, and numerous tools like ClickTracks, Optimos, and Vertster are capable of giving your eBiz a new level of transparency. This is great news for your online business – you can now see exactly how different creatives are impacting your profits.
Putting Your Knowledge to Good Use
The effectiveness of testing has been proven in every area of eBiz – from web design to SEO and PPC efforts to page sequencing. It allows you to break down the sales process and pinpoint how customers are reacting to the individual elements. You can even test how traffic arriving from one marketing channel behaves versus traffic from another channel, so you can optimize your landing pages for your individual marketing campaigns.
However, as Bullock cautions, all that potential does you no good if you don't put it to use. The first step to improving your conversion rates and profitability is to get some sort of tracking mechanism on your web site. Once you understand how people are moving through your site, you can begin to see areas where you can improve and start testing. Advises Bullock, "Let your customers tell you what they want to see – the results will pay for themselves."