I thought for this post I would build on the theme of collaboration that Lily Chiu discussed in her post It Takes a Testing Village. As a citizen of this Testing Village myself, I thought it could be helpful to put together a list of website test ideas that I hope will be supplemented by all my fellow Testing Village citizens out there like you. Test ideas are not too hard to come by once you get started with testing. When those initial test results arrive and the learnings are shared, many ideas present themselves.
The initial learnings will allow you to run follow up tests on other areas of your site to reconfirm the findings and also allow you to further leverage the gains. The learnings could also present an opportunity to run a champion challenger test by trying new content against your new winner. Segment analysis of your tests is another way to get the ideas flowing. You will see that these different segments can respond differently to test content. When this happens you will be presented with many opportunities to leverage those gains and learn more about these segments of traffic which will even lead to more wins and testing ideas. But if you haven’t tested before, where would you start? When you step back and realize that you have an entire website to optimize it can be daunting to decide where to dive in first.
Many companies that I work with like to start with optimizing the traffic they are paying for. This includes paid search traffic, email traffic as well as any affiliate traffic. These areas are incredible areas to start with and are relatively easy to set up using targeting. These paid segments of traffic shouldn’t be the sole focus of your optimization efforts though. There are many other opportunities to optimize traffic that could lead to even bigger returns on your investment.
Some of the best ideas that I see tested often come not from Marketers but rather the Creative, Development, and IT groups within an organization. These groups live and breathe the content and the set up of their website and they often have strong opinions as to what and how content gets placed. Testing allows them to validate their opinions or encourages a visit back to the drawing board. For these groups of people, I find the best approach to get the ideas flowing is during or after a walk through of the technology used to test.
Just three weeks ago I was doing a kick off with a client where we were reviewing landing page opportunities for paid traffic when one of their IT managers who was in the room asked if the testing platform can be used to solve one of their internal site issues. They have a site where the content and prices are determined by your status after logging in. For quite some time they wanted a way to merchandize specific content to these different groups of people. After a quick review of how profiles work, they have a few tests lined up that will show specific content based on their visitors logged in status. Since the vast majority of their traffic is returning visitors the potential gains here could significantly out way any gains on paid traffic.
Testing does not have to live in a silo, nor should it. If you want to get the biggest bang out of your testing buck the best approach is coordinate really well and have all stakeholders of the website present ideas and test them. The sharing of test results is also key to making this happen.
Each site is different though. They differ in terms of traffic and what their key success metrics are. For some specific ideas on your particular website I invite you to share your site with me and the other citizens here and we can look at it together here or in the Website Optimization Group. In the meantime, here are some general test ideas that could apply to many of the sites out there.
- Banner testing — optimize ads placed on third party sites such as affiliate or media sites
- Route testing — send your paid traffic to different landing pages to see what works best (home page, category or product page, or even internal search results page)
- Banner Reinforcement — reinforce ad or paid messaging content on the landing page or throughout every page the visitor can go to. (Multipage testing is quite interesting and has delivered some pretty powerful results)
- Find your best search ad — run a multivariate test on the headlines, copy, and links. This allows you to quantify the impact of each of these elements!!
- Grow your email database — test location and presentation of email registration forms. Test possible incentives to registering. (another cool use of profiles is removing this form all together if visitors already registered thus freeing up real estate for more content
- Email testing I — include subject lines, time sent, and day sent as multivariate variables
- Email testing II — test different content within emails or different promotional content
- Build a story — rather then repeat banner elements on the landing page, try building a narrative from the ad through the funnel of your site (another example of multipage testing)
- Incentive threshold — test different incentive levels (including no incentive) for applications, registrations, for order completion
- Affiliate offer reinforcement — reinforce the affiliate promotion on the landing page (there is a great case study available with Musicians Friend that highlights the easy wins that are available here)
- Viral Marketing — test different marketing promotions upon completion of checkout (e.g. send your friends 10% off coupons)
- Form Optimization — test how many fields you can add before having a negative impact or where and how the form is presented
- % Off or $$ Savings — test not only what promotion you offer, but also how you display the promotion (segments are a must for this test)
- CTA (Call To Action) — test your CTA copy (Learn More, Buy now, Start here, etc…)
- CTA — test different colors and SIZE. See if it holds true that red buttons always win
- Customer Feedback — test adding customer testimonials and/or ratings and where and how often to place them
- Encourage customers to act — test different scarcity messaging (e.g. “Limited Time Only”, “Offer expires on…..”, or “While Supplies Last”). On a side note, many of my customers are using the targeting in the tool to switch out content letting visitors know how much time is left to purchase in order to have their items arrive before the holidays
- Give the copy personality — test different messaging approaches: informative, aggressive, funny, promotional, brand-focused, or benefits orientated (segment analysis here would be well worth its time)
- Increase trust — test where and how to place confidence information such as return policy, shipping info, payment details, customer service numbers
- Security Messaging — incorporate and test placement of trust logos such as Verisign, TrustE, or HackerSafe (I have never seen this not provide lift and placement does matter
- Location, location, location — test not different content but rather different placements of the same content (quick to do as you don’t have to creative alternative content)
- Personalize the customer experience — target content based on the visitors on site behavior (if they show a preference for a category or product, use profiles to reinforce content on other areas of the site)
- Promotion manipulation — test one large promotion versus several smaller promotions
- Rich Media — test rich media vs. simple/quick content (Make sure the “rich” content offers additional information or significant experience that can’t be communicated in a flat format)
- Remove Content — see if removing content on the site affects success metrics
- Bulk Shopping — test different approaches to adding multiple products to your cart simultaneously
- Cart Abandonment — when a visitor returns to the site, reinforce the fact that they have previously abandoned their cart (Here is a post that walks through an example)
- Maximize your profit margin — Is free shipping or % off net of discount amount?
- Promotion Thresholds — test promotional thresholds (e.g. 10% off $50 order versus 15% off $100 order)
- Searchandising 1.0 — test different items to appear at the top of internal search result pages
- Searchandising 1.1 — test targeted promotions/promotional banners based on search term
- What product should be displayed — (e.g. best sellers, hand picked vs. automated, editor picks, big brand vs. big seller, deal of the day, people who bought this bought that, people who viewed this bought that)
These ideas are just a start to what I hope will be an extensive and dynamic list that may help people out there start optimizing or even expand their current testing efforts to new areas. So my fellow citizens, I ask you to please share any ideas you have and I will be sure to add them to a Master List that will be available at the Website Optimization Group. Here are some strategies to focus some of your ideas:
- Focus your testing objectives — Understand if your priority is conversion, average order value, or revenue per visitor. The more focused you are, the clearer your results will be. I personally recommend incorporating as many success metrics as possible into any test that you run. You may find that while your test positively affects one metric, it may negatively affect another
- Make the most impact — look to possibly start at the bottom of a conversion funnel — not at the top. Improving the registration or shopping cart generally provides greater impact on the bottom line
- What now? — If a particular recipe or branch of your campaign wins, what are the learnings and how can they be used in the future
- Test plan — Plan testing “themes” instead of jumping from page to page, element to element, or campaign to campaign. Some good themes are registration drop off improvement, copy style and length, and PPC content targeting
- Test what matters — Small changes to small elements always yield small results. For big impact, focus on product shown, pricing, primary copy, images, offers and the ever important call to action
- Who should get into my test? — Start off testing by allowing many channels or segments of traffic into your test so as to get a sense of how they respond to different content. The more traffic that gets into your test, the quicker you will have statistically significant results
Additionally, if you are a Test and Target customer and would like to know how any of these campaigns are set up please let me know. I can possibly even add them to my demo account on www.TestandTargeting.com/?sid=post3 so you could see them live and in action and view the set up for yourself in the Tool