Monday, April 27, 2009

Split Testing - Taking the guesswork out of website design

Most business owners I know work very hard at getting the best results from their business efforts.

But, largely it can be a real process of trial and error.

Try this. No I think that worked better. Now try this. And so on. Often you can feel like you are running around in circles and getting nowhere.

Marketers have been using split testing for many years as a way to actually determine which headline or which graphic works better in their sales copy.

You can use the same process with your business website.

The tool I use for split testing websites is the Google Website Optimiser tool.
It is free and easy to use, and you get meaningful results.

The first question that you have to answer is 'What is the goal of my website?' What do I want people to do when they go to my website? Do you want them to buy something? Or do you want them to sign up for a newsletter? Do you want them to download something? Or do you want them to click on an affiliate link?

When you know what your goal is you then use this to determine the results of your split testing.

What kinds of things can you split test?



Page Layouts



Sales Copy

there are many different things that you can experiment with to improve the results of your website.

The Golden Rules Of Split Testing.

1. Only test 1 thing at a time. As you get more skilled with this process you can start testing multiple things at a time but to begin with only test 1 thing at a time.

2. Wait until you have a meaningful number of tests before drawing any conclusions. How long this takes will depend on your website traffic. On a website getting 50-100 hits per day I would run a test for 1 month. That way you have meaningful data before you draw any conclusions.

3. Always be testing. Constant Improvement is what we are looking for. I know in the past I have been guilty of trying to hit a home run, but often life and business are not like that. Gradual improvement on an ongoing basis is far more realistic.

Ramp Up Your Split Testing

If you have a budget that supports it, the main way that I increase the power of my split testing is to buy traffic using Google Adwords. If your website only gets a few hits per day because you are just starting out it can be difficult to do any meaningful testing.

The best way around this is to invest in some Google adwords and buy some traffic to your website. That is a subject for a whole other post but if you would like some info on Google adwords please drop me an email.

By picking the right keywords, for an investment of $10-$20 per day you can get enough traffic to your website to do some meaningful testing. Reinvest the improvements from your site for the first few months into more adwords and more split testing and before you know it you will be getting enough free traffic to your website that you may no longer need adwords.

The biggest mistake that most business owners make is that they have a website that remains static until they get tired of it and decide to engage someone to redesign it. And when it comes time to redesign their website they don't know what really works and what doesn't work on the current site.

Rule Number 1 - Always be Testing.

Rule Number 2 - Refer to Rule Number 1
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1 comment:

  1. Nice read, thanks. The Golden Rules are very true and very important to anyone giving split testing a try. I have been looking into split testing for my business lately using Logaholic Web Analytics (, which seems very easy to use.