If you haven’t heard, Google is changing “Google Website Optimizer” into “Content Experiments”.
I personally feel that this is the best thing ever because a lot more people are going to move AWAY from using Google’s website optimization tools and move into alternative solutions.
When I talk to people about optimizing their web pages and split-testing tools, they often ask “What do you think of GWO (Google Website Optimizer)”?
Most of the time, my answer goes something like this:
It’s ok if you’re broke and can’t afford a real testing solution.
This means that you instantly lose 20% to 30% of the data you should be getting. In my opinion, DATA = MONEY. And to lose 20% of valuable data is completely unacceptable.
And now it’s going from “ok” to BAD.
In the grand scheme of things, I’m actually a big fan of many of Google’s tools. However, I simply do NOT understand these recent changes they’ve made to their testing software.
Why on earth would anyone use Google’s new “Content Experiments”?
Here’s 6 reasons why I don’t think anyone should touch it just yet:
1. They’ve killed multi-variable testing. What if you want to do a multi-variable test on your landing pages?
2. Content Experiments is now “buried” in Google Analytics. And most people are already intimidated by the overwhelming array of options offered by the Google Analytics tool. Now Google Analytics will be scarier than ever.
3. You can only test 5 variations at a time. What if you want to test more things?
4. Content Experiments won’t declare a “winner” for at least 2 weeks – and you can’t run a test beyond 3 months. What if you have an outright winner before 2 weeks is up? Or what if a site has relatively low amounts of traffic, and needs more than 3 months to acquire sufficient testing data?
5. You have you to create multiple webpages instead of just having 1 url. This takes more time to set up and will clunk up your server with additional pages.
6. Content Experiments is currently limited to a maximum of 12 tests at a time. Now, this doesn’t mean you can only run twelve tests per account. But if you have 12 tests running, you’ll have to wait for a test to finish before being able to set up another one. (For people just getting started, this is likely to be fine, but it may force more active and experiences split-testers and website optimizers to seek elsewhere for a more suitable solution).
IT’S NOT ALL BAD…
True, Google have stated they intend to improve the features of the “Content Experiments” tool over time – and that the current version is likely to be improved in the future. (However, only time will tell, since it’s forerunner, Google Website Optimizer, remains pretty much unchanged since its introduction more than 5 years ago).
Naturally, on this site we advocate and encourage our readers to use our very own proprietary split-testing software – Extreme Optimizer. And perhaps one of the most edifying pieces of news to come from Google Website Optimizer’s demise is that more people will be actively looking for alternative solutions to meet their needs.
JUST SO YOU KNOW…
Extreme Optimizer is so much easier to use. And the features eclipse Content Experiments by a few thousand light years.
Written by Matt Gallant, the mad marketing scientist. To learn more about Extreme Optimizer “the ultimate optimization software” -> click here. To hire Matt Gallant and the mad marketing crew and have them optimize your business RISK-FREE, please -> click here.
Optin pages are one of the very best places to learn split-testing. Why?
Because you can get tons of results daily (even if you have only a little bit of traffic). You can really test tons and tons of ideas quickly and get some good experience.
Remember, an optin page is at the “top of the funnel” where potential prospects enter your world. So you should ALWAYS be testing new ideas on your optin pages, and aiming to improve conversion and performance.
What we’re going to do here is deconstruct all of the key elements of the optin page. And once you’re able to identify these various elements, it makes it a lot easier to decide what you need to split test (and the order of which elements to test 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc.)
Let’s keep this part simple.
When we are testing an optin page, here is the order of things to test:
1. The headline
2. The offer
3. The format
4. The first paragraph
7. The pre-head
And here’s the process I suggest you use: test 1 element at a time and test 3 variations (including the original or the “control”).
So for example, let’s say I want to start testing the headline – I would create 2 new headlines and test them against the original one. Once that test has produced a ‘winner’, I would test the offer. Then, you can test the format… after that the first paragraph, then the pictures… then video and then the pre-head…
1. The title of the webpage – this is the text that’s on top of the webpage itself. Ideas to test:
A) enter the keyword, such as: “you want some insider info on keyword?”
B) try several benefits, “want to teach your dog new fun tricks tonight?”
C) state the offer: “get 25 free videos below…”
2. The prehead – this is the headline before the main headline. Ideas to test:
A) enter the keyword, such as: “you want some insider info on keyword?”
B) highlight the small amount of time it’s going to take to get the reward “in just 30 seconds, you can own…”
C) ask a qualifying question, “do you love guitar soloing?”
3. The headline – this is the heart and soul of any head. This sells them on reading more. Ideas to test:
A) state the offer “who else wants 15 free dog training videos?”
B) very important: test different titles of the report (or offer). Example: test “47 hot traffic tips” vs. “47 insider traffic tricks” etc…
C) challenge them: “do you have what it takes to get ________?” (this worked surprisingly well in one of the markets we’re in.)
Advanced tip: run a multivariable test just on the headline. In other words, you will split- test every single word of the headline. This can give you astounding results. (But be aware this is part of the ‘Vertical Testing’ phase, after you have tested lots of different ideas in the ‘Horizontal Testing’ phase).
4. Sub-head – this is another headline that follows up the main headline or it’s a headline inside the ad that “breaks up” the copy. Ideas to test:
A) state secondary benefits “you’ll feel closer than ever with your pooch.”
B) tell them what to do next: “simply answer the 5 questions below to get your insider report…”
C) tell them to “simply enter your name and email below now…”
5. The lead-in – what’s the concept behind the headline and the entire ad? Ideas to test: (this varies greatly from market to market so I’ll use the dog market as an example)
A) dog breeding secrets
B) how to give your dog a massage
C) dog grooming
D) dog tricks
6. The offer – this is perhaps the most important part. What are you giving them in return for them giving you their name and email? Ideas to test:
A) free reports
B) free videos
C) free software
D) free consultation
7. First paragraph – the first paragraph can make or break your flow. Ideas to test:
A) the “qualify-and-welcome” strategy “if you’re looking for better, faster ways to train your dog, then this is the right place for you.”
B) hit a pain button and offer salvation “are you sick and tired of eating small vegetables and watching half of your crop die or rot? Then, you’ll be thrilled with the report i’m about to share with you.”
C) none at all – on optin pages: less is usually more.
8. The format – how the page is set up. This is very important.
A) the clean-white design
B) pleasing color combos
9. Location of optin box
A) right below the headline
B) to the right of the headline
C) on the bottom of the page
D) to the left of the headline
E) on the top and on the bottom
F) next to video
G) below video
10. The fly-in pop up – this is a technology that allows a pop-up to kind of “slide in” after the visitor lands on your website.
A) comes on instantly
B) comes on after 5 seconds
C) comes on after 10 seconds
D) comes on after 20 seconds
E) none at all – on optin pages: less is usually more.
F) has video inside
G) makes a different offer (if your offer is videos on the main page – try offering a report).
11. The exit pop up – this is a pop-up that appears if they click “back” or try to close the browser. You offer them another chance to opt in.
A) none at all
B) has video inside
C) makes a different offer (if your offer is videos on the main page – try offering a report).
12. Salutation – this is the “dear xxxxx” part.
13. The signature – this is where you can put a graphic of your signature. Blue seems to work better in a lot of cases (but make sure you test this out for yourself). Also, you can test different “titles” such as “the only all-in-one online coach”.
14. Video – a video that tells them to opt-in…
15. Audio – an audio that tells them to opt-in…
16. Background color – the color of the background.
17. Pictures – pictures of you or your offer
18. P.S. – this can make a big difference as well.
19. Fonts – the type of font can actually make a big difference
20. Bolding, highlighting, italicizing – I don’t suggest you go crazy here, but these can make a difference sometimes.
TIP: We’ve done quite a few optin form tests and almost always, the shorter it is – the more it converts. However, be aware that Google doesn’t like short optin forms so much… especially if you don’t have links going to some content. Just remember Google likes sites with content and they like it if you have a blog and articles on the site too.
Now – it’s time to put this advice into action. Forget about the “theory” of testing and start testing. If you have never done testing before, I promise you’ll really enjoy it once you get started.
In today’s hyper-wired world of satellites, and internet: speed is king. I once heard it said that 1 year on the internet is equal to 7 years offline. Nowadays, I think it’s more like 10 years or more.
And the harsh reality is that, as the online space evolves with increasing rapidity, what works well on your website today may not be very effective in a few months’ time.
That’s why we’ve developed a set of “Testing Results Protocols” in our businesses – to help speed up our split-tests and make improvements more quickly.
First of all, I couldn’t stand waiting for “statistical validity”. (In a minute, I’ll explain why I think that concept just slows down the growth of your business to a crawl. I’ll also give you quite a few advanced shortcuts you can use to help speed up your testing results too).
Plus, I’ll show you some new upgrades in our split-testing software that makes setting up these tests faster and quicker too.
But first let’s look at…
The 3 Levels of Testing Results
1. Donuts (zeros)
2. Incremental Improvements (also known as “whispers”)
3. Breakthroughs (also known as “screams”)
Let’s do some math together:
0 X 10 = zero
0 X 100 = zero
0 X 10,000 = zero
0 X a million = ZERO
In other words, you can’t multiply donuts (zeros)!
Here’s a rule of thumb: If you set up a sales letter test and 300 people have seen your letter and no one has bought – STOP THE TEST IMMEDIATELY.
Basically, it means that your sales letter is not working, and it’s time to move on. (Personally, I would even stop the test after 150 people saw the letter because I want to find a winner as quickly as possible.)
This is not the time to get despondent either. It’s actually great news. Because you want to find out what’s NOT working as quickly as possible. That way you can move on to the next test and find the next big breakthrough.
NOTE: There are exceptions to this rule… For example, when you’re selling expensive equipment, courses or packages. If you’re selling a $10,000 piece of construction equipment – then maybe a 0.3% conversion rate is acceptable.
However, if you’re selling anything below $100, as a general rule, don’t accept conversion rates below 0.3%.
Rule #2 is similar to rule #1. The bottom line is: you need to gather information and results quickly.
Why? Because you’re wasting time if you’re not aggressively looking for the ‘big breakthroughs’ in your business.
Let’s take some advice from the world’s greatest investor, Warren Buffet: Mr. Buffet makes investments based on ‘opportunity cost’. This means he doesn’t look at an opportunity and think “I can make 20% return if I invest 1 million dollars in that company.”
Instead, he looks at all of the other opportunities he’s “missing out on” by NOT investing the million dollars somewhere else.
And here’s how this applies to your split-testing strategy:
Scenario #1: The “normal” way
Let’s imagine you set up a split test. And the 2 factors are initially producing very similar results. They are “nose-to-nose”. But after 60 days you finally identify a clear winner that gives you a 10% improvement in your conversion rate. That’s not bad.
However: what did you LOSE by waiting so long for statistical validity to kick in?
Scenario #2: The “faster” way
You set up the same test as in ‘scenario 1’. However, you abandon the test after 1 week because it wasn’t a ‘breakthrough’ result – in other words, the results were too close and the test failed to produce a clear winner.
Next, you set up a new test, and you get a 25% improvement in your conversion rate after only 2 weeks. And then you set up another test and you get another 15% improvement after 2 weeks.
So with this strategy, you achieved a 40%+ improvement in 5 weeks, instead of the 10% in 8 weeks.
The point to get across here is this: by abandoning tests that are “nose-to-nose” quickly, you’ll find the ‘big breakthroughs’ faster.
This is a concept I stumbled upon by being impatient. Basically you want to look for big results fast.
The Big Breakthrough Formula:
You have a ‘Big Breakthrough’ when…
The Winner – Square root of the winner > the losing element
The big breakthrough formula is simple… You subtract the “square root of the winner” from “the winner”, and the number you’re left with should be BIGGER than “the loser”.
This will become a lot more clear in the example below. It sounds more complicated than it is…
Example of the Big Breakthrough Formula in action:
Let’s say you’re doing A-B split testing, and element “A” has 20 sales and “B” has 12 sales.
First, calculate the square root of “20” – which is 4.47. Now, simply plug-in the rest of the numbers:
20 (winner) – 4.47 (square root of 20) = 15.53
The next question is: Is 15.53 a bigger number than 12 (the number of sales of the “losing” element)?
In this case, the answer is ‘yes’, so we have a ‘big breakthrough’ result, and can move on to testing something else against this winning element.
Frankly, is this method perfect? Of course not. I would even say, by picking winners quickly – you’ll be wrong 10% of the time or so.
In the grand scheme of things, is this important though?
I’ll take SPEED over accuracy any day of the week. Even if I am wrong 20% of the time, the increase in my conversion rates will quickly make up for it.
The reality is, the results will self-correct over time as you test more variables. For example, let’s say I end a split test early and I was wrong about the winner… I’m going to set up a NEW test – and hopefully I’ll crush the “wrong winner”. And I’ll set up another test and beat the champ again… and again… and again…
To recap: focus on achieving BIG breakthroughs with your testing. Don’t be afraid to end a test early. You do NOT need 200 results to have a valid test. I think that’s just insane (especially on a sales letter).
99% of marketers think of Adwords as one of the best places to get traffic. And they’re mostly right.
However, in my opinion the ULTIMATE VALUE of Adwords is the speed and ease of its split testing power.
Quite simply, Google Adwords allows you to test lots of ideas and concepts in your market, so you can really understand what your target audience is looking for.
Here’s 2 analogies…
Imagine if I told you there was $100,000,000 buried “somewhere” on planet earth. Would you start investing your time, money and resources just digging “anywhere”?
Or would you first identify the exact location of the cash before beginning to dig?
You’d want to know the location, right?
It’s the same thing with oil companies. They do their research and FIND the oil patch before setting up the oil rig.
What’s funny is, most marketers invest hundreds of hours digging for the million dollar treasure without KNOWING if there’s any hope of striking gold. What I mean is, they create sales letters, order pages, dozens of autoresponder emails BEFORE knowing if their business idea is going to work.
Let me be the first to admit that I’ve been guilty of this in the past too. But I approach things differently now. Here’s how I create a new marketing process today…
What is organic marketing?
It’s the natural process of creating and adapting the sales process around what your market is telling you day by day. In other words, you listen to what your visitors, prospects and customers are telling you. Then you use that feedback to improve your sales process.
Again, it goes back to the attitude that “I don’t know anything. And I’m going to let the market tell me what they want” vs. the ego-centric attitude of “I know what they want, but really I’m taking some wild guesses and hoping it works.”
So, what I suggest is this: DON’T spend countless hours building what you think is the “perfect marketing process”. Instead, start with almost nothing: 1 or 2 autoresponder messages, a simple sales letter, and a basic opt-in page.
Then start testing in Google Adwords. Set up at least one new split test every single day. And use the results to attune your marketing and sales process with what your market is looking for.
Just so you know, Timothy Ferriss – the best selling author of the blockbuster “The 4 Hour Workweek” (which I highly recommend) – found his “magic button” book title through Adwords testing. He probably tested several different numbers: 4 hours vs. 10 hours vs. 20 hours vs. 40 hours, as well as other titles too.
And he let the results guide him on what to name his best-selling book. Now, imagine if he had done it the other way around. He could have written a book, given it a title that he thought was “hot”, spent $10,000 printing them and putting it out there, only to discover nobody resonated with the title. What an unnecessary waste of precious time and money.
Instead, follow his example, and use Adwords to help you find the hottest triggers, concepts, titles, and headlines for your target audience.
Time… resources… energy… are all very, very limited. That’s why you should be… focusing on the critical factors of profitability.
There’s one big problem that marketers have when split testing: there’s an almost infinite number of options to test and they don’t know where to start.
A ‘critical factor’ is the part of a system that has the most influence over the result. For example, if you cut the gas line in your car you won’t go very far. The gas line is a critical factor to that system.
Yes we’re talking about the Pareto Principle. Pareto is the man who figured out that 80% to 90% of the results come from 10% to 20% of what you do (That’s why they’re the critical factors). The critical 20% that influences 80% of the results.
And when it comes to your marketing, 80% of your time should be spent optimizing these 5 critical factors for converting prospects into customers, making sales and increasing profits:
1. Your ad (e.g. Google Adwords, banner, radio ad)
2. Your landing page (optin page, e-commerce site)
3. Your content (e.g. video, report, articles, auto-responder messages)
4. Your sales delivery (sales person, webpage, direct mail letter, video sales letter)
5. Your order device (online orderpage, operator, reply form)
Here’s another more “global” critical factor: WHAT you work on in your business.
I believe in my heart of hearts that SPLIT TESTING is DEFINITELY in the top 20%. I would even rank it #1 for an up-and-coming internet marketer.
There’s no better way to learn what REALLY works than split testing. At the same time that you’re split testing, you get the added benefit of a world class education in copywriting and marketing that’s specific to your market. It doesn’t get any better than that.
Furthermore, if you study copywriting teachers like John Carlton, and use his strategies and tactics, your marketing can just take off like wildfire.
So, my suggestion to you is this: do 1 hour of split-testing every single day that you work.
(NOTE: If you’re NOT getting a lot of traffic yet, then maybe you’ll only set up one test per week on your blog or one test per month on your sales letter, and then you can test more often as the traffic builds up).
For most of us, ‘good intentions’ are simply not enough. We might realize that ‘split testing’ is a good idea as we read an article or hear someone talk about it. But the busy-ness of our lives will typically take over, get in the way of our good intentions to test, and we’ll forget about it again.
Instead, we need to make split testing a top priority and a habit in our business. And asking ourselves the right questions each day is an excellent way to begin.
One of my favorite questions to ask is this:
“What could I test today that could give me the biggest pay raise?”
(Write this on a post-it note and attach it to your computer so you keep it “front-of-mind” and visible every single day that you work).
Then it’s simply a case of brainstorming your ideas, writing them down, prioritizing what you want to test first, and taking consistent action.
Many marketers make the mistake of looking at things in isolation. They only see the parts, and not the whole sales process.
As marketers, we see: ads, optin pages, sales letters, order pages and upsell pages. However, as a consumer, we only see 1 business experience.
Things simply don’t happen in isolation, including a sale. So, let’s take a look at the entire marketing pathway that prospects experience with an online business…
Here’s a typical process that could happen in the golf market:
1. Joe surfs on his favorite site.
2. He sees a banner and clicks on it.
3. He then clicks on a link that brings him to the main sales letter.
4. He then goes to the order page.
5. He orders or he abandons the process.
Now, that’s a SIMPLIFIED pathway. Most of the time, the pathway might have 20, 30 or even 50 steps. Especially, if you’re using email autoresponders.
And a good marketer understands the basic chain of events above.
(Here’s some advice if you’re just getting started: create a flow chart of your marketing process. Use paper, use a mindmap, use flowchart software, use a whiteboard – the point is JUST DO IT.)
One of the most powerful elements to look at to really understand marketing pathways is “promises and expectations”.
A “promise expectation” happens ANY TIME YOU SAY ANYTHING.
Re-read that because it’s an axiom of marketing and sales.
Let me put it to you another way. Each time you say something, people EXPECT what you said to happen or be delivered. It’s an unconscious process that is hardwired into every human mind.
Most marketers make big bold promises. However, they either make the wrong kind of promise or their sales process isn’t really aligned with the original promise. And here’ an important lesson:
As soon as someone breaks a promise, all trust evaporates faster than water dropped on a dusty desert.
Consciously or unconsciously, the promise-breaker is now branded as a ‘liar’ by the potential customer. And people don’t tend to buy from liars.
The “wrong promise” occurs when the promise isn’t a match with that specific prospect. For example: I’m promising that you’re going to improve your golf putting game on my ad, while the sales letter talks about improving your drive…
Trust also fades into the wind when your promise isn’t believable.
Making the right promise is NOT about hyperbole and exaggerations, it’s about matching the promise correctly with the core desires of your target prospects. This is the heart of what I call “harmonization”.
And more importantly — you must CONTINUE the pathway of trust throughout your marketing process too.
We’ll compare 2 different sales processes in just a moment, so you can clearly see what you shouldn’t do… and what you should do as well.
The reality is, that almost every marketing process FAILS because of either:
1. Ineffective promises and claims that don’t resonate with that prospect
2. Incongruencies in the marketing process
And we’re going to look at how to solve BOTH of these problems.
First, let me illustrate an example of a BAD marketing process that fails, using the golfing example we mentioned earlier.
1. Uncle Joe surfs on his favorite golf site and is reading an article about golf vacations in Scotland.
2. He sees a banner about a new golf club and clicks on it.
3. He goes to the new golf club site and asks for a report that talks about “How to Improve Your Golf Game”.
4. He reads the report and gets a few tips.
5. He then clicks on a link that brings him to the main sales letter to sell him golf clubs.
6. He then goes to the order page to check out the price.
7. He abandons the process because he wasn’t looking for golf clubs in the first place.. or… the incongruency “threw him off”.
Let’s compare that to what I would consider is a “winning marketing process” using the same golf club example.
1. Mr. Gronkbee surfs on his favorite golf site and he’s reading an article on “hitting longer drives”.
2. He sees a banner about a new golf club that guarantees to add “50 yards to his drive” and clicks on it.
3. He goes to the new golf club site and asks for a report that explains “The science of 300 yard drives”.
4. He reads the report and he gets excited about the science behind the new cutting-edge material that delivers longer drives.
5. He then clicks on a link that brings him to the main sales letter. He reads a ton of great testimonials from golfers who say it’s added a 50 yards or more to their drives.
6. He then goes to the order page and he places his order. He gets the product and uses it. And he’s smashing balls further than ever before. He become an evangelist for those clubs and the company that sell them.
Expectations begin as soon as someone reads your first ad that’s designed to get them to click. And you need to DELIVER on those expectations throughout every marketing pathway you create.
So take the time to “harmonize” your sales process – from the ad right through to the sales page, order page, and the product or service you offer.
It’s simple really. By giving potential customers what they want, you’ll develop a marketing funnel that works.
Very few “experts” will ever admit that their suggestions are simply their BEST GUESSES.
I’m almost willing to bet that if you go to 100 big Madison avenue advertising agencies, not one will ever say:
“You know what Mr. Jones… We’ve got what we think is a great idea. But the real truth is… We have no clue if this is going to work or not. So let’s test it and find out.”
Now don’t get me wrong. Many expert opinions are very valuable and have tremendous impact.
But the reality is, no one “knows” anything until it’s actually tested and the market votes with their wallets and credit cards.
Markets and people’s behaviors are changing faster than ever now, thanks to the web. And yet, at the same time, the internet and technology has allowed a new breed of business builders to emerge who understand this key principle.
I call them “Extreme Optimizers”.
These are the people that apply the same techniques and processes that my team and I use to optimize our own business and other businesses’ marketing.
In our optimization company, one of our core values is: “Testing ends all arguments”.
That’s because split-testing crushes opinions and theories and replaces them with market-driven realities. So instead of guesswork, you have real-world results to guide your decision making.
And the best mindset to have as you test is a simple, curiosity-driven “Don’t Know” attitude. You say to yourself: “I’m going to try this and see what happens.” And as they say: “The numbers don’t lie.”
Too many marketers let their opinions blind them. They think they “know what works” because they’ve been “writing sales letters for years” or they’ve been “running their business for years”.
But a more effective, and arguably more profitable, attitude to have is, “I don’t know anything – I’m just going to let the market tell me what works and what doesn’t.”
And when you get deep into testing, you’ll discover that 80% of the ideas that you were sure were “great” don’t work… while the crazy ideas, that you never thought would work, end up boosting your conversion rates.
After a while, you quickly start realizing that you don’t know much. AND THAT’S A HUGE BREAKTHROUGH… because then you’ll let your market, prospects and clients TELL you what works and what doesn’t instead.
It’s a critical and important paradigm shift that can make all the difference to your results.
What’s your experience with split testing? Let us know in the comments below.