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Always Be Testing: The Complete Guide to Google Website Optimizer

ISBN: 978-0-470-61266-8
336 pages
December 2009
Always Be Testing: The Complete Guide to Google Website Optimizer (0470612665) cover image


Stop guessing, start testing, and enjoy greater success with your website.

If you’re looking for more leads, sales, and profit from your website, then look no further than this expert guide to Google’s free A/B and multivariate website testing tool, Google Website Optimizer. Recognized online marketing guru and New York Times bestselling author, Bryan Eisenberg, and his chief scientist, John Quarto-vonTivadar, show you how to test and tune your site to get more visitors to contact you, buy from you, subscribe to your services, or take profitable actions on your site. This practical and easy-to-follow reference will help you:

  • Develop a testing framework to meet your goals and objectives
  • Improve your website and move more of your customers to action
  • Select and categorize your products and services with a customer-centric view
  • Optimize your landing pages and create copy that sells
  • Choose the best test for a given application
  • Reap the fullest benefits from your testing experience
  • Increase conversions with over 250 testing ideas

Take the guesswork out of your online marketing efforts. Let Always Be Testing: The Complete Guide to Google Website Optimizer show you why you should test, how to test, and what to test on your site, and ultimately, help you discover what is best for your site and your bottom line.

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Table of Contents

Foreword xxix

Introduction xxxi


Chapter 1 Always Be Testing? 2

A System for Closing 2

Scientific Advertising 6

The Court of Only Resort 11

Developing an Always Be Testing Culture 13

Why We Endorse (and Use)

Website Optimizer 17

What Makes This Book the “Complete” Guide? 18

Chapter 2 Playing with Website Optimizer 19

Ten Minutes to Testing 19

Headline Copy Strategies 29

Want to Run a Few More Tests? 31

Multivariate Testing: Sections, Variations, and Combinations 33

More Website Optimizer Tests 36

Avoid Swimming in Data 42

Chapter 3 Understanding Website Optimizer’s Report 44

Combination Report 45

Page Section Report 48

Chapter 4 Optimization Works: Examples for Lead Generation and Retail 51

Finding Your Groove 52

Geico’s Disconnect 53

Doctor FootCare Rewind 56

Volvo Excavates Leads 58

Danica Meets Go Daddy’s Home Page 58

Dell’s Choices 59

Max Effect’s Show-and-Tell 61

Testing Is for Everyone 62

Chapter 5 The Optimization Life Cycle 63

Miguel and Denise Need a New Cable Service 64

Hitting the Optimization Wall? 66

Navigating the Phases of the Optimization Life Cycle 69

Marketing Challenges 71

Chapter 6 Always Be Testing in Action: Acceller Case Study 75

Chapter 7 Simple Testing Concepts 78

Of Variables and Variations 79

The Hypothesis 80

Designing the Test 83

Types of Tests 84

Chapter 8 Developing a Testing Framework 93

Factors That Determine Online Success: The Web Performance Equation 94

Online Marketing 101 95

Know Thy Customer 99

Chapter 9 Establishing Testing Goals and Parameters 110

Three Steps to Goals and Parameters 110

Actually Getting Started 114

Chapter 10 Jigsaw Case Study 120

Phase 1: Planning 121

Phase 2: Testing 121

Phase 3: Putting It All Together 121

Lessons Learned: What Testing Taught Jigsaw About Its Customers 122


Chapter 11 Understanding What to Test 126

Create a Descriptive Name 127

Define Your Goal 127

Determine How You Will Achieve Your Goal 128

Define the Control Variable/Variation 129

State Your Hypothesis 130

Let the Test Rip 130

Measure and Analyze Your Results 130

The Lowly Button 131

The Bottom Line 134

Chapter 12 WIIFM: What’s in It for Me? 135

Competitive/Assertive 136

Spontaneous/Amiable 136

Humanistic/Expressive 137

Methodical/Analytical 138

One Page, Multiple Needs 138

Questions to Ask 140

Exercise 141

What to Test 141

Apply This to Your Site 142

Chapter 13 Unique Value Proposition/Campaign Proposition 143

Questions to Ask 145

Exercises 146

What to Test 146

Apply This to Your Site 147

Chapter 14 The Buying Decision 148

The Complexity of the Sale 148

Scent Trails 150

Point-of-Action or Shop-with-Confidence Messaging 150

Questions to Ask 152

Exercise 152

What to Test 153

Apply This to Your Site 153

Chapter 15 Categorization 154

Questions to Ask 155

Exercises 156

What to Test 156

Apply This to Your Site 157

Chapter 16 Usability 158

Questions to Ask 158

Exercise 160

What to Test 160

Apply This to Your Site 160

Chapter 17 Look and Feel 161

Questions to Ask 161

Exercise 161

What to Test 162

Apply This to Your Site 162

Chapter 18 Searchability 163

Questions to Ask 163

Exercise 164

What to Test 164

Apply This to Your Site 164

Chapter 19 Layout, Visual Clarity, and Eye Tracking 165

Questions to Ask 170

Exercise 170

What to Test 170

Apply This to Your Site 171

Chapter 20 Purchasing 172

Questions to Ask 172

Exercise 173

What to Test 174

Apply This to Your Site 174

Chapter 21 Tools 175

Questions to Ask 176

Exercise 176

What to Test 177

Apply This to Your Site 177

Chapter 22 Error Prevention 178

Questions to Ask 179

Exercise 179

What to Test 179

Apply This to Your Site 179

Chapter 23 Browser Compatibility 180

Questions to Ask 180

Exercise 180

What to Test 182

Apply This to Your Site 182

Chapter 24 Product Presentation 183

Questions to Ask 183

Exercise 184

What to Test 184

Apply This to Your Site 185

Chapter 25 Load Time 186

Questions to Ask 186

Exercise 187

What to Test 187

Apply This to Your Site 188

Chapter 26 AIDAS: Attention, Interest, Desire, Action, and Satisfaction 189

Questions to Ask 189

Exercise 190

What to Test 190

Apply This to Your Site 191

Chapter 27 Security/Privacy 192

Questions to Ask 192

Exercise 193

What to Test 193

Apply This to Your Site 194

Chapter 28 Trust and Credibility 195

Questions to Ask 195

Exercise 196

What to Test 196

Apply This to Your Site 196

Chapter 29 Product Selection/Categorization/Search Results 198

Online, Expectations Are Different 199

Plan to Help Visitors Find the Right Product 201

Questions to Ask 201

What to Test 202

Apply This to Your Site 202

Chapter 30 Navigation/Use of Links 203

Questions to Ask 203

Exercise 205

What to Test 205

Apply This to Your Site 206

Chapter 31 Up-Sell/Cross-Sell 207

Questions to Ask 208

Exercise 209

What to Test 209

Apply This to Your Site 209

Chapter 32 Calls to Action 210

Questions to Ask 210

Exercise 211

What to Test 212

Apply This to Your Site 212

Chapter 33 Point-of-Action Assurances 213

Questions to Ask 214

Exercise 214

What to Test 215

Apply This to Your Site 215

Chapter 34 Persuasive Copywriting 216

Use Active Voice 216

Avoid Jargon 217

Be Specific 217

Speak to the Four Buying Modalities 217

Benefits/Features 217

Identify Other Opportunities to Write Persuasively 218

Questions to Ask 218

Exercises 219

What to Test 221

Apply This to Your Site 221

Chapter 35 Content 222

Questions to Ask 223

Exercise 223

What to Test 223

Apply This to Your Site 224

Chapter 36 Headlines 225

Questions to Ask 225

Exercise 226

What to Test 226

Apply This to Your Site 226

Chapter 37 Readability 227

Scanning and Skimming 228

Questions to Ask 230

Exercise 230

What to Test 230

Apply This to Your Site 230

Chapter 38 Use of Color and Images 231

Questions to Ask 231

Exercise 232

What to Test 232

Apply This to Your Site 232

Chapter 39 Terminology/Jargon 234

Questions to Ask 235

Exercise 235

What to Test 236

Apply This to Your Site 236

Chapter 40 “We We”: Customer-Focused Language 237

Questions to Ask 238

Exercise 238

What to Test 239

Apply This to Your Site 239

Chapter 41 Using Reviews 240

Questions to Ask 242

Exercise 243

What to Test 243

Apply This to Your Site 244


Chapter 42 Mathematics, Misperceptions, and Misinformation 246

Finding Your Center 246

The Spread of Your Data 247

Statistical Significance and Sampling 248

Local vs. Global Maximum 249

The Heart of the Problem: The Two-Armed Bandit 251

Degrees of Freedom 253

Orthogonality 254

Chapter 43 How Website Optimizer’s Scripts Work 256

Three Vital Script Functions 256

Marco Polo’s Cookie 259

Multiple Tests, One Conversion Page 259

Multiple Tests Running on the Same Site 260

Chapter 44 Using Website Optimizer on Static and Dynamic Sites 262

What Is a Static Site? 262

What Is a Dynamic Site? 263

Mixed Static and Dynamic Sites 264

Applying Website Optimizer to a Static Site 264

Applying Website Optimizer to a Dynamic Site 265

Choose the Approach Appropriate to Your Site 266

Chapter 45 Tracking Key Events and Other Advanced Topics 267

Testing Subsets of Your Traffic 267

Testing Less Than 100 Percent of Traffic 267

How Long Should Testing Last? 268

Modifying the Weight of Each

Combination in the Testing Sample 269

Testing for Key User Events (Clicks and Submits) 270

Using a Timer to Fire Off a Conversion 270

Testing Flash Video Events 271

Stacking Events 271

Explore the Bleeding Edge (If You Dare) 271

Nothing Takes the Place of Planning 272

Chapter 46 Website Optimizer’s Plug-in for WordPress 273

Will It Work on Your WordPress Blog? 273

Installing the Plug-in 273

What to Do Before Using the Plug-in 274

Detailed Setup Instructions for Website Optimizer 274

Creating Additional Experiments 282

Appendix Useful Resources 283

Analytics and Testing 283

Blogs 283

Books 284

General Links to Key Topics 284

Google Documentation and Support 285

Other Publications by the FutureNow Team 285

Index 287

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Author Information

Bryan Eisenberg is the cofounder of FutureNow, Inc., an interactive marketing optimization firm and Google Website Optimizer Authorized consultancy. He is a coauthor of the New York Times bestselling books Call to Action and Waiting for Your Cat to Bark? He is a sought-after speaker at major business conferences worldwide, having keynoted events for Search Engine Strategies, Shop.org, DMA, MarketingSherpa, E-consultancy, and the Canadian Marketing Association.

John Quarto-vonTivadar, having worked on NASA’s Hubble telescope (the working parts), is chief scientist at FutureNow, Inc., and coinventor of Persuasion Architecture.

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