Google Optimize versus Optimizely

I’ve been an Optimizely certified expert for a couple of years and have now trialled Google Optimize 360 for a few months, so it seems a good time to compare how they stack up. Optimizely is the current market leader in AB testing (or content experimentation), due to its ease of use and powerful reporting tools. It gives companies an easy way to run many concurrent tests and manage their setup and roll out without the involvement of developers. That was a big step up from Google Content Experiments, where the only way to set up an experiment is to write some Javascript code. The Guardian had some success with Optimizely, where they increased subscriptions by 46%. Google Optimize is an equivalent testing tool, and has copied much of the user interface that made Optimizely popular: you can click on elements within the page to experiment, and change their style, hide them or move them. My only complaint is that the interface is so simple it can take a while to unbury powerful features, such as transform the page via a custom script. There have been many success stories of companies implementing Google 360. Technically, Optimize’s editor is a bit smoother; using a Chrome plugin avoids some of the browser security issues that bugged Optimizely (since internet browsers confused the Optimizely in-page editor with some kind of script hacking). For example, to load Littledata’s homepage in their editor I have to enable ‘insecure scripts’ in Chrome and then navigate to a different page and back to force the editor to re-render. For reporting, Google Optimize 360 gives the ability to see results either in Optimize or as a custom dimension in Google Analytics – so equivalent to Optimizely. Right now Optimize lacks some features for advanced scheduling and user permissions, but I expect those to evolve as the product gathers momentum. The critical difference is with the targeting options Optimizely allows you to target experiments based on the device accessing the page (mobile vs desktop, browser, operating system) and for enterprise plans only to target based on geolocation. The limitation is that every time Optimizely needs to decide whether to run the test, the check for the user’s location may take a few seconds – and the landing page may flicker as a test rule is triggered on not. Google Optimize can target to any audience that you can build in Google Analytics (GA). This means any information you capture in Google Analytics – the number of previous visits, the pages they have previously seen or the ecommerce transactions – can be used in a test or personalisation. For example, in Google Optimize you could serve a special message to users who have previously spent more than $100 in your store. Optimizely has no knowledge of the users’ actions before that landing page, so the only way you could run an equivalent personalisation is to expose this previous purchase value as a custom script on the landing page (or in a cookie). The beauty of Google Optimize is that you are targeting based on information already captured in Google Analytics. There is no technical setup beyond what you were already doing for Google Analytics, and it doesn’t take a developer to build targeting for a very specific audience. Pricing Optimizely starts from under $100/month, but to get access to enterprise features (e.g. for geo-targeting) you will need to spend $2000 plus per month. Google Optimize is currently being sold at a flat rate of $5000 / month for the basic tier of Google 360 customers (which have between 1M to 50M sessions per month), but in future, it could be offered at a lower price to smaller companies. Conclusion Where you’ll appreciate the benefits of Google Optimize is for running personalisations based on complex rules about previous user behaviour, or the campaigns they have seen. The more different tests you are running, the more time and simplicity saving you will get from building the audience in Google Analytics rather than some custom scripts. Google Optimize 360 is currently in beta but you can currently add your email to invite list. For smaller customers, or those with less complex needs, Optimizely still offers better value – but that might change if Google were to offer a limited version of Optimize at a lower price.   Get Social! Follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook and keep up-to-date with our Google Analytics insights.   Further reading: Create and customise dashboards and widgets in Google Analytics New in Littledata: an improved navigation, trend detection algorithm, and more How to set up internal searches in Google Analytics Image credit: Blastam  

2016-10-05

Tips to optimise your ecommerce landing pages

Are your ecommerce landing pages suffering from poor conversion rate because people aren't engaging? First impressions are everything, and more so online, so your task is to figure out which on-site improvements will help you towards your goals. Once you start optimising, it's a continuous process of reviewing, changing, testing and refining - aiming to find out what is most appealing to your customers, what they like and care about, what makes them trust you, what encourages them to purchase. There is always room for refinements so here are some tips on what you should consider when reviewing your pages. What are you trying to achieve? Before starting testing and implementing the changes on your landing pages, you have to be clear about what you want to accomplish. Whilst the end goal for an online store is to increase sales, at times you might also want to get more sign ups, or improve views of or engagement with product pages. Think about what success will look like as that will help with planning your optimisation tests. How are you going to measure it? If you are clear about what you are trying to achieve, it will be easier to set measurable targets. Are you looking to increase your sales by 10% or pageviews of products by 15%? Or maybe you want your potential customers to browse further and spend more time reading content? Further engagement can also be demonstrated by the site visitor scrolling down the page if you have long product or category pages. In which case you'll want to track how far down the page they get to. I believe in keeping reporting straightforward so when testing focus on tracking important metrics only. Ideally just one if you can, or a few if you have to, but that will help focus on measuring what is most important for your business at the time. Assuming you are using Google Analytics, like most of people looking after digital performance, set up goals to monitor how customers are converting. Our web-based software also makes it easy to keep track of on-site changes are by reporting on changes in trends, goals, pages. Who are you targeting? User-focussed content is more effective at engaging your customers and improving your conversion rates. So you should write up your customer personas to be clear about who you are targeting with landing pages. This also applies to general look and feel of your ecommerce site. Most importantly, include with personas what problems your customers are trying to solve or what they are trying to achieve.  Once your team knows who your ideal or typical customers are, then it will be easier to focus on creating more relevant and engaging content on those pages. Do you have a clear value proposition? Value proposition explains why you’re better than or different from your competitors, and what you can deliver that they can’t. When writing it up, focus on benefits not features. It’s not always about the product looking top notch (unless you’re the industry or company where that matters of course) so it is more about how you can alleviate their problem. Check out how to write your value proposition by following Geoffrey Moore’s model. Does your copy reflect your value proposition? Once you have your customer personas and value proposition, review existing content on the site against how you describe what your clients are looking for. Check if it fits with what they are looking for, explains how you can solve their problems or fulfill their desires. The copy on your site has to reflect how you can improve your potential customers lives through what you offer. A great copy informs, compels, captivates, reflects what people search for and promotes key benefits. Econsultancy have compiled a great set of advice from experts on writing copy for product pages. Also, check out Copyblogger Demian Farnworth’s articles for superb advice on writing copy. Have you found your winning call to action? This is very important – test your call to action until you find the best performing one. Your call to action is like a visual sign that guides the buyer towards a specific action you want them to complete. Different things work for different sites. Start off with trying simple changes like different text, colour, shape, size or placement of the button to figure out what is most effective for your page. If small changes aren’t helping, then try a more drastic change of the button or page. Do your pages load fast? This is pretty self-explanatory. Slow page loading speed might drive your potential customers away from your online shop, so you should regularly check whether they can view your products within 3 seconds (Source: Radware). If you’re using Google Analytics, you can use Site Speed reports to check how you’re performing and get advice on where to improve. If you don’t have Google Analytics, you can use their online tool PageSpeed Insights. Other tool worth checking out is GTMetrix where you can grade your site's speed performance and get a list of recommendations. Do you need to optimise for mobile? It’s a very common fact that more and more people are using mobile devices to browse and buy online. But unless you have unlimited budget for ensuring that your ecommerce site is optimised for mobile, it is best to check in Google Analytics first whether you need to do it now. If you go to Google Analytics > Audience > Mobile > Overview report, you will get a breakdown of device categories that buyers are using to visit your online store. Here you can see that the majority of customers, almost 93% are using desktop so in this case (assuming you have a limited budget) you might want to make sure you have a responsive site at the very minimum, and leave a full optimisation for mobile device for later when there is a sufficient need. Now, if results were different and let’s say you had 60% of people visiting your site via mobile devices, then you would want to ensure that they’re getting the best experience on their device and don’t leave the site to buy from a competitor instead. Are your test results statistically significant? Evaluating your AB test results isn't quite as simple as looking at the highest conversion rate for each test, which would be an incorrect way to interpret the outcome. You want to be confident that results are conclusive and changes you tested will indeed improve your conversion rates (or not, depending on the outcome of testing). That's where statistical significance comes in. It gives you assurance about the results of your tests whilst taking into consideration your sample size and how confident you want to be about the importance of the results. By reaching over 95% statistical confidence in testing results, you can be sure that the winning variation performed better due to actually being an improved version, and not simply due to change. You can easily find a calculator online that tells you if your AB testing results were statistically significant and you should conclude the test or not - for example, try the calculator by Kissmetrics or Peakconversion. There is no one winning formula for how to make your pages more effective, but you have to be pro-active to figure out what they are  - so keep testing until you do. Have any questions? Leave a comment below or get in touch with our experts!   Image Credit: Stocksnap.io

2016-07-27

How to calculate your marketing ROI

Are you running campaigns in AdWords, Facebook or on another advertising platform? Do you know whether your marketing efforts are paying off and which channels you should keep investing in to increase your product sales? As marketers face more and more pressure to demonstrate that their activities are contributing towards the profit, there is a bigger need for you to be able to show your decisions yield positive results. But if a particular channel or campaign is doing the opposite and causing your business losses, then the sooner you figure that out, the quicker you'll be able to adjust your further marketing plans. That’s where calculating and tracking your ROI becomes important. By being able to figure out how much you make from investing into a particular campaign or channel, you can figure out where to focus your budget. Whilst it’s difficult to compare the performance of specific marketing tactics across every single industry and company, there are interesting conclusions that have come out from market research. As reported by Web Strategies Inc., the top 3 channels that generated the best ROI were email marketing, SEO / organic search and content marketing. Email marketing has also been reported elsewhere to give the best ROI (source: Campaign Monitor), but you should focus on figuring out the correct ROI for your marketing activities and, based on that, decide which ones work for you best.     Further reading: What is CRO, conversion optimisation, for ecommerce? Image Credit: Image courtesy of Maialisa at Pixabay

2016-07-12

What is CRO, conversion rate optimisation, for ecommerce?

If you run or work in an ecommerce business, you will always be looking for ways to increase your sales. So CRO or conversion rate optimisation is one of the key metrics you should care about - review and improve it. Are potential buyers leaving your online store before purchasing products? Have you looked at the potential reasons why they may be leaving and ways to improve the number of visitors who end up buying? Increasing that number of people who complete the main action, or convert, is called conversion rate optimisation. Some of the reasons why more people are not buying your products could be: product pages are loading too slowly not enough information provided about the product your ecommerce site has poor navigation information about delivery and returns costs is too confusing/difficult to find need more time to think before committing to a purchase In the video below, Edward gives an overview of CRO and talks through some examples of tests you could be running to find out how to improve your conversion rate. *This video is part of ISDI online training courses for digital professionals. Video transcription so one of the important things, if you're going to increase your return on investment of marketing campaign, is to think about how users engage with your page and this is typically called conversion rate optimisation or increasing the percentage of people who land on the page or visit the page to those that do the main action let's look at this example which is a very generic e-commerce product page as you can see the very obvious call to action, which is highlighted, is to click the Buy button to add it to cart if we get a marketing campaign to push people to page let's say the product here is some pink shoes and our campaign says buy pink shoes we are wasting money that's never going to have a positive return on investment if people out on the page and don't even like the content they don't engage with it so we need to measure very carefully what is the bounce rate  of our landing page, and the bounce rate is the percent of people who land on the page and then go away with them without doing any further action and conversion rate optimisation is really the process through which you might go to get more people to convert - in this case to click Buy so we might look at the text on the page the heading could we change the copy to make it more engaging or to make it more fitting with the users expectations so if we advertise for pink shoes this better say pink shoes somewhere in the copy the next thing we'll optimise is the image - is it appealing, is it easy to see what the product is, maybe we might add a 3d visualisation animation of the product for them to get a better feel for it and then we might experiment with a Buy button itself - how about making it bigger or make it red this might seem really trivial but you'd be amazed the difference in conversion between let's say a blue button and a red button, so altogether we can run a series of tests in the next chapter, we're going to look at a series of tests you might run to test those things but the process of doing it is conversion rate optimisation and that's really going to help you boost that return investment from any given marketing campaign Have any questions? Get in touch with our experts!   Get Social! Follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook and keep up-to-date with our Google Analytics insights.

2016-06-28

How to use Enhanced Ecommerce in Google Analytics to optimise product listings

Ecommerce reporting in Google Analytics is typically used to measure checkout performance or product revenue.  However, by analysing events at the top of the funnel, we can see which products need better images, descriptions or pricing to improve conversion. Space on product listing pages is a valuable commodity, and products which get users to click on them – but don’t then result in conversion – need to be removed or amended.  Equally, products that never get clicked within the list may need tweaking. Littledata ran this analysis for a UK retailer with Google Analytics Enhanced Ecommerce installed.  The result was a scatter plot of product list click-through-rate (CTR) – in this case, based on the ratio of product detail views to product listing views – versus product add-to-cart rate.  For this retailer, it was only possible to buy a product from the detail page. We identified three problem categories of product, away from the main cluster: Quick sellers: these had an excellent add-to-cart rate, but did not get enough list clicks.  Many of them were upsell items, and should be promoted as ‘you may also like this’. Poor converters: these had high click-through rates, but did not get added to cart. Either the product imaging, description or features need adjusting. Non-starters: never get clicked on within the list. Either there are incorrectly categorised, or the thumbnail/title doesn’t appeal to the audience.  They need to be amended or removed. How we did it Step 1 - Build a custom report in GA We need three metrics for each product name (or SKU) - product list views, product detail views and product add to carts - and then add 'product' as a dimension. Step 2 - Export the data into Excel Google Analytics can't do the statistical functional we need, so Excel is our favoured tool.  Pick a decent time series (we chose the last three months) and export. Step 3 - Calculate List > Detail click through This website is not capturing Product List CTR as a separate metric in GA, so we need to calculate as Product Detail Views divided by Product List Views.  However, our function will ignore products where there were less than 300 list views, where the rate is too subject to chance. Step 4 - Calculate Detail > Add to Cart rate Here we need to calculate Product Adds to Cart divided by Product Detail Views.  Again, our function will ignore products where there were less than 200 detail views. Step 5 - Exclude outliers We will use an upper and lower bound of the median +/- three standard deviations to remove improbable outliers (most likely from tracking glitches). First we calculate the median ( =MEDIAN(range) ) and the standard deviation for the population ( =STDEV.P(range) ).  Then we can write a formula to filter out all those outside of the range. Step 6 - Plot the data Using the scatter plot type, we specify List > Detail rate as the X axis and Detail > Add to Cart as the Y axis. The next step would be to weight this performance by margin contribution: some poor converters may be worth keeping because the few sales they generate are high margin. If you are interested in setting up Enhanced Ecommerce to get this kind of data or need help with marketing analytics then please get in contact.   Get Social! Follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook and keep up-to-date with our Google Analytics insights.

2016-03-31

7 ways to reduce your bounce rate

Wondering why your bounce rate is so high and people are not sticking around? Here are some methods you should consider to improve user engagement with your content, conversion rates and sales. Bounce rate is the percentage of single page sessions or visits where the person didn’t engage further than the one page within your site. You shouldn't worry about the high bounce rate if your site visitors are meant to find what they were looking for on a single page. But if it's important for your site that users stick around for either reading more content or going through further pages that lead towards conversion, then you should review your options for reducing the bounce rate. By decreasing the bounce rate you can improve your ability to engage more users and eventually get them to convert. There are a few reasons why you would have a high bounce rate: Single page site or landing page Incorrect setup Wrong audience Design Usability User behaviour Low quality content You can identify your worst performing content by looking at the bounce rate in the Landing Pages report (under Behaviour > Site Content). If there is a high percentage of people leaving the pages without continuing their journey, then review those pages with the suggestions below. You should also check the average time spent on those pages. If users are leaving after a short amount of time, then you should look closely at what may be driving them away and if there are any improvements you can make to keep the visitor on the page for longer, or how to encourage them to visit other pages. Guide users through your website with additional links Users might leave your site after seeing a single page that contained the information they were looking for. If they got what they wanted and don’t care about actively exploring your website, then think about similar pages within your site that might be of interest to your users, and link to them within the content. You could link to: Another blog post covering similar topic from a different angle A case study to increase the credibility of your work Related blog post that the reader might like Best practices of using your product Case studies on how others have achieved results with your product Your product demo or webinar This can be applied to any pages from product and features to blog and about your team. Blog posts on Moz Blog are a great example of providing additional links that are useful and relevant. Improve your page load Your page loading time has a major impact on how quickly people will leave your site, which should be obvious to everyone. Slow site speed can be very discouraging to your potential customers and drive them away. How long would you wait for a page to load, before going elsewhere to a quicker website? 47% of users online expect the page to load in two seconds or less. The study cited in an article by Econsultancy is several years old so it is highly likely that people are even more impatient now, making the number of people abandoning the site even higher than the 40% it used to be. Check Google PageSpeed Insights for more detail. Make content readable It is difficult to read large chunks of text that consists of long paragraphs, too much jargon and bad formatting. With our shorter attention span and higher impatience, the more user friendly you can make the text, the better for your site performance. There are a number of ways you can improve the readability of your content: Large headings Bold subheadings Bullets and lists Shorter sentences and paragraphs Less or no jargon Write like you talk Use images Bold keywords where appropriate Add a relevant call to action on the landing page If you have a landing page for converting visitors, whether it is for getting them to enquire or sign up, you need a relevant and prominent call to action (CTA). At Littledata we use CTA in two places on the landing page - top and bottom - to help the user enquire about our services much quicker. I also like Intercom product pages, which have some awesome animations and illustrations, and a call to action that fits the theme. Your CTA could be focussed on getting your users to: Call the company to talk about the product Fill out a form Sign up for a trial Click on banner ad Watch video Subscribe to a newsletter Visit another page within your site or external site Econsultancy has collected examples of some awesome calls to action so check them out for inspiration. Check your landing pages meet visitor expectations If people expect to sign up for a free trial of your software product, but are instead taken to a homepage without a visible way of doing so, then expect a lot of bounces. Invision uses Adwords to promote its free platform plan. Once you click through, you see immediately the content you expect and the option to sign up. If you purchase some of your traffic, make sure you check what information visitors see on your partners’ site before clicking on the link. When we recently ran a number of tests to improve the bounce rate for our client, we were baffled by some of the improvements not having much effect. After further investigation it came out that the visitors on the partner sites were getting the wrong information about what they were clicking on. No surprise then that they were leaving the site so soon. For search engine results, review your page titles and meta descriptions, and make sure they match what the person will see on the page when they click on it. Set external links to open in a new window By providing an external link that opens within the same window, you are forcing your users to leave your site. This will not only affect your bounce rate, but you will also be increasing your exit rate. Instead of interrupting their journey this way, set any external links to open in a new tab. Avoid distracting users from the content Whilst some popups can be relevant to the content of the page and important for your aims, a badly timed popup can be very off-putting for your site users. Your landing page is there to convince the visitor to stay so if your popup displays instantly, you're not letting them see your content that they came for in the first place. Test different timings to see what works best for your users, but I'd be surprised if quickly displaying popups reduce your bounce rate. Autoplaying random songs can also be highly annoying. Especially when it's not the kind of song you listen to, on full blast, and hidden somewhere so it takes you ages to find the music to pause it. Just no.   There are no quick wins when it comes to improving your bounce rate. Keep making the improvements with your reader in mind and testing which changes work for you best. So I hope this has been helpful. If you have any experiences with methods mentioned above, do share in the comments below. Further reading: A win for the UK digital sector: UK sites perform better than US sites in benchmark 5 common Google Analytics setup problems to look out for How to accurately track time on site with Google Analytics or Google Tag Manager Stuck with reducing your bounce rate? Contact our certified Google Analytics specialists for help with your bounce rate or other advanced tracking.  

2015-11-25

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