Rather than just picking random ideas or listening to your HiPPOs for things to test and optimize on your website, there is a much better way that will usually result in better conversion lifts. And it’s something that surprisingly few companies do a very good job of. The answer is to use web analytics data and insights to power your website testing efforts – yes, analytics isn’t just all about measuring page views, unique visitors and revenue, it can actually help improve your testing efforts too.

Coming from a background in analytics and now in the world of conversion optimization, I certainly have seen the benefits of this, but unfortunately it seems like many online businesses don’t really understand the benefit and impact of using web analytics to power their testing efforts. Therefore, this represents a big opportunity for you to form a competitive advantage over your rivals who aren’t doing a very good job with testing and optimizing their websites.

Benefits of using web analytics to power and improve your testing efforts:

  • Web analytics helps you discover, monitor and set targets for your key success metrics (for example shopping cart abandonment rate or signup form completion rate). These will be vital to use and monitor during your testing efforts to understand how well your test efforts are performing.
  • Web analytics helps you understand and prioritize what pages on your website need optimizing the most on your website, rather than simply guessing what you should test. For example, you shouldn’t be testing pages that have very low traffic or have a low impact on your conversion goals.
  • Web analytics helps arm with you information that can improve website decision making, which is often critical to overcome problematic HiPPOs (Highest Paid Person’s Opinion) who are often hesitant to allow widespread testing.
  • Ultimately, web analytics provides you with some amazing visitor insights to help you create even better tests, and tests that will usually have a higher chance of seeing more significant conversion lifts.

Key things you should be doing with your analytics to help power and improve your testing:

  • Analyze your key conversion funnels (for example shopping carts and sign up process) to look for pages that have particularly high exit rates or drop-off rates and then run tests on them to increase conversion. These conversion funnels can be set-up in SiteCatalyst using the ‘Fall-Out Report’.
  • Start higher up the conversion flow funnel. When analyzing your conversion flows, find the top entrance paths to the first page of your conversion flow. For example, if you are trying to optimize your registration flow, you should find out the top pages that most of your visitors arrive from, and optimize those pages.
  • Review your top entry pages for any pages that have high bounce rates. These are great candidates for testing and optimizing. Remember to also check the keyword or source they are arriving from too to see if the are any issues with continuation of messaging.
  • On pages that you are considering testing, use your visual analytics reports (like Click Map) to understand what visitors are clicking on and their possible intent. This helps you understand and prioritize which page elements may need testing and optimizing the most.
  • Set up alerts in SiteCatalyst to inform you of when newer highly visited pages occur, as these are also prime candidates for testing and optimizing.
  • Improve your test plans with analytics insights and data. When creating a test plan for each of your tests, you should always include the web analytics insight found that led you to think of the test. This will help others understand your logic for the test, and help with prioritization efforts to get it launched.
  • Make sure there is strong collaboration between web analysts and testing managers, because this will help increase the amount of testing insights being generated.

Don’t forget about the powerful integration between SiteCatalyst and Test & Target.
Setting up this integration between our analytics and testing tools enables you to do some other powerful things with your analytics and tests:

  • Set up conversion and event-based segments in SiteCatalyst that you can then use to segment and target even better in Test & Target. Pushing live multiple winners to these advanced segments will really help maximize your conversion rates.
  • Analyze your Test & Target test campaigns in SiteCatalyst, as this will help give you even more insights into the impact and results of your tests (which is great for monitoring impact on engagement in particular).

So in the future, don’t just take your web analytics for granted and start using it to help improve your testing efforts. Hopefully you found this subject enlightening.