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Split Testing for Profits

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Split Testing For Profits.
What exactly is 'split testing', and why is it so important to my business?

Split testing is a process - these days generally an automated one - of establishing the individual components within your website design responsible for generating conversions and sales.

It's about taking individual elements - headlines, copy, calls-to-action and graphics generally - and testing each in isolation, in the hope of ensuring (ultimately) each and every component on the page is pulling its weight as effectively as possible.

Split Testing Example:

Split Testing for profitsBy way of an example, you could test six or seven completely different headlines against one another to establish, definitively, which specific headline leads to the most conversions (those conversions being visitors taking the desired action on the page in question - buying your product for example).

Having established which is the best, you would then make that headline a permanent fixture, and move the focus of your testing elsewhere.

Systematically, over time, your testing will reveal (in the real world environment) what works best on your site, in your niche, with your visitors.

There's just no substitute for this kind of empirical data. Without the evidence - the proof positive - you're leaving an awful lot to to chance and guesswork.

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Getting Started With Your Split Testing.

You’re going to need four things to get going with your split testing:

  • Something to test (e.g. headline, main graphic, call-to-action, etc.)
  • Some variations of the test element (so, different headlines, alternative button designs, etc.)
  • A tool for the testing process (more on that in a moment)
  • Traffic (visitors to your site)
Split Test VariantsTest Elements/Variations

The first two items in the list are easy enough to sort out - you just need to start at what you feel are the most important page elements, and work from there. Coming up with variations is simply a case of brainstorming some creative ideas.

Split Testing ToolsSplit Testing Tools

As far as tools are concerned, there are few better than Google’s free ‘Website Optimiser’ tool - you can access it at www.google.com/websiteoptimiser.

For brevity's sake I'm not going to write a step-by-step guide to using this powerful tool here in this e-mail - I'll try and put something together in the coming weeks to help you get started using it - but in the meantime, here's a link to to a pretty succinct explanation of how it works, from Google themselves:

http://www.shoutdesigner.com/wso 

Website TrafficWebsite Traffic.

The final prerequisite, traffic, is of course something you’re going to need to work on (if you don’t already have plenty of it, of course!). The reason you’ll need a reasonable level of traffic is that Google’s testing tool shares that traffic evenly between the test variants, then monitors the conversions resulting from each.

For the results to be statistically valid you’ll need to send hundreds (but preferably thousands) of visitors through each of the test variants. So, if you’re testing several variants you’re going to need rather a lot of traffic (else the test will take a long time to conclude).

In case you’re in need of more traffic, there are some tips/techniques over at ShoutMembers and we’re also working on some 'mini-courses' at ShoutTraining for you, in case you’re interested.

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Tips For Your First Tests:

Tip #1: Keep your initial tests small-scale (ideally one variation compared with the original). This way the test will complete sooner rather than later.

Tip #2: Start with the main page elements, such as headlines, calls-to-action, price and so on. These are some of the ‘pinch points’ on your site where visitors will make snap decisions regarding whether to buy or not. These are where the biggest gains (or losses) will be made in your testing, so it makes sense to start there.

Tip #3: Make your test variation significantly different to the original. If your test variant is too close to the original it will take Google longer to identify a statistically valid result.

Tip #4: Record the results. I find it’s a good idea to keep a spreadsheet of the test results for future reference. The results you’ll get will tend to be fairly ‘statistical’ so it makes sense to write a short, plain-English explanation of what the test was about, and what the results mean, so when you come back to the list of tests at a later date you will be able to quickly decipher the results from your different tests, and trends will be easier to spot, too.

Tip #5: Get on with it. Split testing might seem like a complicated, technical process but believe me: once you’ve done a few simple tests you’ll find they’re easy and quick to set up, so you really need to dive in there and have a go.

As I said at the top of this message you really can’t afford not to run these essential tests.

To Conclude:

I hope this short guide to split testing helps you understand the process, and that the video helps you get to grips with Website Optimizer. Wishing you every success with your tests!

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