So you’ve got a brand new tool in your web performance kit – Google Optimize – and now you want to put it to good use. What can you test with Optimize and how does it work?

Firstly, what are the different options for setting up an experiment?

AB Test

Using the in-page editor you can create an altered version of the page you wish to test. This could be a change of text copy, different styling, or swapping in a different image. You can also add new scripts or HTML if you’re familiar with coding.

AB test

The way this works is Optimize adds a script after the page loads to manipulate the page text, images or styles. I recommend not switching header elements or large images using this method as, depending on your website setup, there may be a noticeable flicker– try a redirection test below.

You can create many versions with subtly different changes (C, D and E versions if you want) – but remember you’ll need a large volume of traffic to spot significant differences between lots of variations.

You can also limit the test to a certain segment of users – maybe only first time visitors, or those on mobile devices.

Multivariate Test

Similar to an AB test, a multivariate test is used when you have a few different aspects of the page to change (e.g. image and headline text) and you want to see which combination is most engaging.

To get a significant result, you’ll need a large volume of traffic – even more than testing many options in AB tests.

 

Redirection Test

This is where you have two different versions of a page – or a different flow you want to start users on. Optimize will split your visitors, so some see the original page and some are redirected to the B version.

redirection test

A redirection test is best when the page content or functionality is very different – perhaps using a whole different layout.

The disadvantage is you’ll need a developer to build the B version of the page, which may limit the speed of cycling tests.

 

Personalisation

Personalisation is not officially supported by Optimize right now, but we’ve found it to be a useful tool.

You can assign 99.9% of the visitors who match certain criteria to see the alternative version of the page. An example is where you have a special offer or local store in a particular city – see our step-by-step local personalisation example. You can ensure that all the visitors from that city see a different version of the page.

how to split traffic

Unfortunately on the free version of Google Optimize you are limited to 3 concurrent ‘experiments’ – so it won’t be a good solution if you want to run similar personalisation across lots of cities or groups of users.

Next the question is where to start with tests…

 

Start with the landing pages

Landing pages get the greater volume of traffic, and are where small visual changes (as opposed to new product features) make the biggest difference to user engagement.

This greater volume allows you to get a significant result quicker, meaning you can move on to the next test quicker. And keep on improving!

 

So what exactly could you test using Google Optimize? Here are six ideas to get you going.

 

1. Could call-to-actions (CTA) be clearer?

Changing the colour or contrast of a key button or link on the page (within your brand guidelines) usually results in more visitors clicking it. This might involve changing the style of the CTA itself, or removing elements close by on the page – to give the CTA more space to stand out.

 

2. Are you giving the user too many choices?

In Steve Krug’s classic Don’t Make me Think he explains how any small confusion in the user’s mind can stop them making any choice. Every choice the user has to make is an opportunity for them to give up.

Try hiding one of the options and seeing if more users overall choose any of the remaining options.

 

3. Is the mobile page too long?

As many sites move to responsive designs that switch layout on smaller screens, this has led to mobile pages becoming very long. User may get ‘scroll fatigue’ before then get to critical elements on the page.

Try cutting out non-essential sections for mobile users, or editing copy or images to make the page shorter. You could also try switching sections so that the call-to-action is higher up the page on mobile – although this is harder to achieve without a redirection test.

 

4. Is localisation important to your users?

You may have discussed providing local language content for your users, and been unsure if it is worth the costs of translation and maintenance. Why not test the benefits for a single location?

As with the personalisation tests, you can show a different local language (or local currency) version of the page to half the users in the single location (e.g. Spanish for visitors from Mexico) and see if they convert better.

 

5. Does the user need more reassurance before starting to buy?

It easier to build experiments which remove elements to the page, but you should also consider adding extra explanation messages. A common problem on ecommerce stores is that visitors are unsure what the shipping charges or timing will be before adding to cart.

Could you add a short sentence at the start of the journey (maybe on a product page) to give an outline of your shipping policy? Or maybe some logos of payment methods you accept?

 

6. Changing header navigation

If your site has a complex mix of products that has evolved over time it may be time to try a radical new categorisation – maybe splitting products by gender or price point rather than by type.

For this test, you’ll want to target only new visitors – so you don’t confuse regular visitors until you’re sure it’s permanent. You will also need to make the navigation changes on all pages across the site.

 

Good luck! Littledata also offering consulting and AB testing support, so please contact us for any further advice.

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