Although the space is full of strong performers, Adobe Test & Target (formerly Omniture) and Autonmoy Optimost were placed as the leaders: Adobe excels in overall application usability, customer satisfaction, and content support. Autonomy stands out in administration, deployment options, and breadth of testing techniques. Both vendors demonstrate strong integration options with the Web marketing ecosystem, enabling marketers to plug online testing into a broader application framework.
Making A/B testing dead-easy, Visual Website Optimizer is perhaps an answer to all these frustrations. The tool loads your website (or landing page) in a visual designer and then you can use a word-like WYSIWYG editor for creating test variations. Then select conversion goals for your test and you are ready to run an A/B test. The integration part is pretty simple too – all you need to do is to upload a small code snippet in your website once and then you can create unlimited number of tests from the tool without touching your website code ever again. This means that once the code goes into your website, you can create and launch tests in less than 5 minutes. Watch a short video below:
In terms of functionality, Visual Website Optimizer has interesting features for tracking and optimization. For example, you can select multiple conversion goals for your A/B and multivariate test. That is, you can measure how your test affects sales, bounce rate, signups – all goals at once. You can run targeted tests only on a particular visitor segment such as new visitors or visitors coming from a particular referral source. The tool also integrates with Google Analytics, Omniture SiteCatalyst and other web analytics platforms so that you can segment test results for deeper insights.
Their pricing plans range from $49/mo to $729/mo which is significantly more affordable than other enterprise testing tools such as SiteSpect, Webtrends Optimize and Omniture Test and Target (costing thousands of dollars per month). Even though it is a recent startup, they claim to have 1000+ users including some well known companies such as Microsoft, Rackspace and 99designs.com. As far as results are concerned, they have a couple of A/B testing case studies on the website where their users have seen 20-90% increase in sales and conversions.
You can sign up for their free 30-day trial to evaluate the tool yourself.
You would think it goes without saying. And still it was presented as one of the future challenges at the dmexco 09 in Cologne, Germany – for instance by Heinz D. Schultz, CEO at mindlab, in his presentation “Crossing the Chasm”: the pooling of Web Analytics and Business Intelligence. Well – do you really have to stress this? Of what use could the best online marketing ever be if the bounce rate of your website rises to astronomic heights? If a visitor to your website does not enter the shopping procedure and does not convert? If an ad addresses a target audience totally different to the one your website appeals to? Testing can provide answers to many questions like these, but as I use to say, testing can only be the first step on the way to targeting.”
Simple and logical as it appears to be – it still does not seem to have caught the attention of many companys in the online world. Whoever calls a testing tool his own is busy testing over and over again and in the end the board of directors, marketing department and design go with their guts. This kept in mind the issue will still be present in the next year –as shown e.g. by the announcement of Kevin Hillstroms presentation, Turning Data into Strategies: How Multichannel Forensics and Online Marketing Simulation leverage the art and science of E-Commerce for April 27th 2010 at the Ecom fair in Berlin.
Meet your customers where they are – thousands of companies in the web refer to this concept. But where is your customer? The knowledge gained from testing can help with this question. Where did he come from? Where does he leave your website? In which way could you address him so that you would get through to him? Whoever searched for the latest bestselling novel in the web and found your website should not be confronted with a kitchenware ad on your landing page. And who – as Heinz D. Schulz described in his presentation – orders trainers, which were returned by most customers for being to small, should be alerted to that during the order process. Your website is mainly used by elderly customers and wearers of glasses? You should keep this in mind when designing the website and be aware, whether the customers after having decided on the product will desperately search for the cart symbol which an aesthetics-oriented design has lightheadedly created just nuances lighter than the background…).
The final goal of every investment in the website should be the amelioration of the sales approach and as a consequence the augmentation of the conversion rate. For this it is indispensible for the Business Intelligence to keep in mind the results gained from testing the website and to turn them into well-directed design and marketing actions. As in every good marriage one has to work on ones communication skills. Until you finally can join in: Love and marriage…
Matthias Postel is an expert in web analytics, testing and targeting. He is founder and managing director of the iCompetence GmbH which is based in Hamburg, Germany. The iCompetence GmbH specializes in digital business optimization with focus on website and conversion optimization.
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[Manoj]: Can you start by providing some insight into your motivations for writing the book: “Always Be Testing“
[Bryan]: Google released Website Optimizer a few years ago. It’s evolved and improved greatly in that time, and a lot of people are using it now. But the biggest challenge people face is, “what do I test?” My partner, John Quarto-vonTivadar and I wrote “Always Be Testing” to provide readers with a guide to learning what to test, how to test, and in what order to test.
While many companies are testing, even more companies should be testing who are not currently doing so. Google Website Optimizer represents a painless and cost-effective way to begin testing. Because you can get started in 30 minutes and because it’s free, it cancels out all the usual excuses of time and budget.
[Manoj]: There are numerous organizations who don’t take the time to test their content/landing pages – what does it take to make testing a priority for them?
[Bryan]: Well, for good or ill, the current economic downturn will certainly help focus businesses on the values of doing more with the same (or less) resources. The rising cost of media reach at the same time that traffic numbers are starting to decline is a potent incentive to improve, test, and optimize some more.
And for some people who are looking at all the current layoffs occurring, don’t you think it may cross their mind that “If I can do some testing for free and can improve conversion or company goals, then I look like a star if a decision about layoffs occur and I’m able to show with numbers how I contributed to the top line revenues. “ You can be sure C-level managers understand that argument.
Another point, something we’ve seen a lot of this past month: Some clients actively testing are reporting traffic numbers that are flat, even as their conversion rate goes up. Keep that in perspective: in a recession, which after all means a shrinkage of the market, if all your competitors are experiencing lower traffic and lower average sales value but you are reporting flat traffic and flat average sales value, that means you must be gaining market share! In other words, during a recession, being flat on testing might actually mean you’re ahead of the game, compared to your competitors.
[Manoj]: In “Always be Testing” you mention that organizations sometimes forget to understand their customer’s goals (and begin selecting their own goals), how important is understanding your customer’s goals before you start testing?
[Bryan]: Generally speaking, you aren’t going to see large improvements to conversion traffic tests until you start testing for customer goals. There’s only so far you can push your own agenda if it comes at the expense of your customer’s goals.
[Manoj]: Do you feel Google Website optimizer can handle the majority of an organization’s testing needs whether it’s a small business or a large enterprise?
[Bryan]: Google Website Optimizer is, thankfully, small and robust; but limitations do exist – for example, it doesn’t addresses some of the larger organization’s needs, like segmentation (to mention just one). But the 250+ tests we describe in the book could keep any organization, large or small, busy testing for several years.
If you’re a large organization but haven’t achieved a lot of experience testing then Google Website Optimizer and our book is also right for you, because any type of testing is better than doing nothing. But if you’re a large organization and you’ve built a culture of testing with lots of experience doing it, then you almost certainly already have an enterprise-level testing platform installed — in which case, just use it!
The only bad thing you can do testing-wise is not to test.
[Manoj]: What are the most important things that readers will understand after reading “Always Be Testing”
They’ll gain the confidence to take the first steps, which is always hard.
They’ll learn a process for understanding how to test, what to test, and in which order to test, from the market thought leader in testing and optimization.
As they improve, they will generate their own testing ideas arising from the unique nature of their business and they will then be able to test and improve the elements of their business that give them a competitive advantage.