Google Website & Conversion Optimizers & More!

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If you’ve read the Google blog recently you’ll see that there are quite a few new tools being introduced to help us do our jobs better, and work more efficiently. So how can you tell which tools will help the most, and how do you find the time to learn about them all? While I can’t help you learn about everything right now, I can share some insight into a few of the tools we use most for our clients.

Google Website Optimizer

What is our motto? TEST! And how do we do it? With the Google Website Optimizer tool, that’s of course free, and very easy to use (typical for Google, I know).

What it does: Google Website Optimizer (GWO) allows you to test different versions of a page and select the elements/design that persuades more of your visitors to convert (or complete your goal whatever it is).

Types of testing:

  • A/B: this allows you to test two entirely different pages (or more) against each other.
  • Multivariate: this allows you to test multiple elements of a page at the same time. You are then able to distinguish which combination of elements worked best.

Tips for using it effectively:

  1. Think through your test before starting – the more thought you put into it, the better off you will be. Think about the following:
    • What are the business goals you are trying to achieve?
    • What is the best strategy to test that goal?
    • What page(s) are you going to test and where should you start?
  2. Determine which type of test (A/B or Multivariate)
    • A/B tests are a little easier, require less time and are used to test major design decisions.
    • Multivariate tests are more complex and will take long to come to a conclusion. If you choose multivariate – make sure you have enough traffic to the page to support it.
  3. What elements do you think are impacting visitors who are converting?
    • Images
    • Copy
    • Offer
    • Headline
    • Layout
    • Call to action/buttons
  4. Choose your pages:
    • Choose the page you will be optimizing.
    • Choose your conversion page.
  5. Plan on taking more than 5 minutes to set it up correctly – especially the first time. Set aside an hour or so to go through the steps and make sure everything is correct.
  6. You will need to install tags on the pages, so make sure you or your programmer know how to properly install code snippets. Don’t worry, the tracking code will be given to you as you set up the test.
  7. Don’t run tests that will take several months to complete – there are other factors that go into play, seasonality, major news, competitor sales, etc. Aim for no longer than 4-6 weeks.
  8. The key is in analyzing the data, and moving forward. Anyone can set up a test, but interpreting it is more important. From there you may need to do additional tests, but you first need to get some data to decide where to go next

Ideas of what to test:

  1. Call to Action –
    • Language
    • Button vs. hyperlink
    • Button colors & shapes
  2. Fonts
    • Choice of font
    • Readability
    • Color, treatment (bold, etc.)
  3. Headlines
    • Different language
    • Formatting: bold, color, etc.
    • Number of words
    • Quote vs. question
  4. Page copy
    • One vs. three column layouts
    • Actual copy on pages
  5. Images
  6. Forms
    • Long form vs. short
    • Drop downs vs. fill in
    • Language around form
    • Placement/language of call to action button
  7. Shopping cart
    • Process/pages
  8. Incentives/offers
  9. Site wide test
    • Navigation
    • Shopping cart button
    • Tagline
    • Search box
    • Location of authority & trust seals
  10. Home page
    • Main image
    • Flash vs. images
    • Headlines
    • Best sellers, featured products, new arrivals (placement as well as adding these in)
    • Copy
    • Product displays
  11. Ecommerce
    • Shopping funnel
    • Check out page
    • Image of product on product page
    • Product descriptions
    • Reviews
    • Add to cart buttons
    • Cross sells

Day Parts Report

The day parts report is a new analytics report, and it is found in Analytics under Traffic Sources > Ad Words > Day Parts. This report is used to find out what time of day your campaigns are most effective, but right now it is only for Adwords campaigns. From here you can see your ad performance broken down by day of the week and by hour of the day. The Day Parts report can help you find the most profitable times of day for your ads. Then pair it with the Ad Scheduling feature in AdWords to automatically adjust your bids to capture the right traffic at the right time.

Looking at the Data:

You can view your data in the table, or by time of day. The table lists each hour of the day. Click an hour to drill down and compare each day of the week for that hour of day. Clicking an hour in the resulting report takes you to the detail report for that day and hour (for example, Saturday 10:00).

You can also replace the ‘None’ dimension on the detail report with another selection such as Keywords so you can compare keyword performance for that day and hour.

By graphing visits against transactions you are able to see how transactions increase or decrease relative to visits. To access this information, click the tab at top left of the graph to select up to two metrics at a time. View the data hourly, so you can determine the best time to increase or decrease your bids.

Important Notes:

  1. You must have enabled Destination URL auto-tagging in your AdWords account in order to see data in this report.
  2. The above information is applicable for ecommerce sites. If you don’t have an ecommerce site, you will need to set up lead goals in Analytics. Once you have your leads goal running, you will be able to assess the days and times that your campaigns convert the best, and make day parting decisions based on that information.

Using the Data:

Once you know the days and times that your account converts the best, or when revenue and visits increase together, you can adjust your Adwords account accordingly.

Google Conversion Optimizer

The goal of the Google Conversion Optimizer is to increase conversions, decrease CPA (Cost per Action) and improve ROI.

How it works:

Your conversion tracking data is complied, and a prediction model is generated based on that data. From there your bids are optimized, and it selects the best auction scenario based on targeting. Your bids are also adjusted to a price that will put your ad in the best situation to convert.

In order to implement conversion optimizer you need to have a minimum of 15 conversions in the past 30 days, and the conversion level needs to be consistent over recent days. Google recommends having conversion tracking running for 2 weeks or more, and from our experience, the more data you have, the better, so don’t skimp here. When setting up the optimizer functionality you will set either a max CPA or target CPA (target is the average you want to pay per conversion).

Best practices:

  1. Use the optimizer with existing campaigns
  2. Leave it running. The longer you have been running conversion tracking the better it’ll work.
  3. Don’t make large changes when it’s running (deleting or creating ad groups). Make small adjustments only (changes in keywords, creative, or landing pages).
  4. Don’t move or remove the Google tracking codes.

Advantages:

  1. It will automatically adjust your bids in real time for each auction.
  2. Your click value will be determined based on specific criteria (user location, user query, content site, etc.).
  3. It can be a great tool for managing cost within a campaign.
  4. It has the ability to improve campaigns with minimal management.

Disadvantages:

  1. Some control is taken from the user.
  2. Tracking needs time to adjust to major changes.
  3. It could create complacency on the part of the account manager.

Recommendations:

  1. Try it on seasoned campaigns that are already performing well
  2. Enable tracking for a minimum of 1 month for a better performance snapshot.
  3. Do not try it with campaigns that are still a heavy work in progress.
  4. Make adjustments to your CPA to find where the campaign will ideally perform.

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  • http://Www.openviewpartners.com Kobie Fuller

    Great post. I think you capture a lot of what marketers should be doing as it relates to landing page optimization and ppc.

    I think people are now starting to get caught up on this (it’s great that google is offering some free tools) and the next step looks to be in the area of site side behavioral targeting and personalization (omniture acquired a company called Touch Clarity in this space a while ago, and there seems to be a lot of new entrants in the space).

    At the end of the day, it’s all about making sure you are doing the most as it relates to automating the communication of the right message to your audience based on their profile and interests in a highly scalable manner.

    K

  • http://adsenseblogtoolbox.com EmmJay

    I haven’t checked the new tools but I’m pretty sure that Google is making it easier for us to integrate our marketing ideas in real-time search results, in mobile search results and at the same time, provide better user accessibility and experience…

  • http://webuildyourblog.com Andrew @ Blogging Guide

    Thank you for this in-depth explanation. Now I truly understand these things better!

  • http://valkrum.com John Busciglio – Tampa Search Marketer

    Thank you for this timely well thought out article. I have particularly enjoyed how you have laid out the key components to effective marketing in the current search environment. You have done an excellent job in highlighting recent changes as well as hearkened back to time tested and proven methods.

    I have book marked this link to share with colleagues and I hope you don’t mind if I use your testing outline as a base for a checklist I am creating for testing methodology.

    I look forward to discovering more useful information on your domain.

    Thank you!

    – John

  • http://ppc-seo-services.com Chad Walls – Calgary SEO Services

    Thanks for this post! I am finding it hard to find information about Google Website Optimizer. I am wondering how much traffic does a site need using the A/B split testing to receive accurate results. I also wonder about traffic sources. If a site receives 1,000 unique visitors a month but only 400 of those are from organic search results would this still be enough traffic to acquire accurate results? I assume each variable you test might yield different results based on traffic sources as well. I suppose perhaps no one has the answers to these questions and it might be a process of trial and error.

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