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Testing After Christmas for Greater Results All Year Long

Posted on 12.27.2012

By Rich Page, Author of Website Optimization, And Hour a Day

So it’s the New Year… hopefully that means you’ve just had some fantastic results from testing and optimizing your website over the busy Christmas period to increase conversions and online revenue.

Don’t stop there though! To help you continue you to gain higher conversion rates and online revenue all year long, here are some New Year’s resolution website testing and optimization tips for you to try using! And no mention of a diet either…

First of all though, it’s important to understand why testing and optimizing your website isn’t just for Christmas. Here are the major reasons:

• Website testing and optimization isn’t a once a year project. It’s a continual process, just as your website is constantly evolving, and not just a destination. 
• Testing during the short holiday period means you don’t have enough time to test very many website elements, and also increases the chance of you rushing test ideas or making mistakes (meaning suboptimal conversion lifts or potential website errors).
• It’s much easier to spread out testing during the whole year, and not need to squeeze everything into a short window - you have a greater chance of mistakes being made too.
• It’s perceived as less risky by management to test critical pages during non-holiday periods, so you will find it easier to gain buy-in to do testing on key conversion flows like your checkout or signup process.

Make sure you also educate your bosses on all these key reasons, as you will find it much easier to achieve greater testing results all year long if you have buy-in from them. Now that you understand the important reasons to not just test during holiday periods, here are 7 New Year’s Resolution testing tips for you to try using on your website:

1: Promise to test everything major you launch or change during the coming year. Don’t just test the most important things like your homepage, product/service pages or checkout pages - you need to be testing and optimizing everything major you launch to make sure you achieve the best results possible (Amazon.com do a fantastic job of this). Even testing small things you change on key pages is important to test. And just because your UX designer might say their carefully designed changes will improve the site for sure, don't mean it actually will… so test before you launch it!

2: Start testing your follow up email marketing efforts. You probably generated a lot of new customers and prospects over the holiday period - congratulations! But don’t stop there - continue to build and improve your relationship with them by testing and optimize your follow up campaigns. This will help get more people back to your site to engage and convert. Try testing the subject line, imagery testing and value proposition, and also message continuation testing (so they see the same promotions they clicked on in your emails across your site).

3: Try doing radical tests to move the testing needle. You may have tried testing smaller things like call-to-action buttons or images with some reasonable success. As another type of great testing strategy to use, pick a key page on your website, and try testing a radically different page version - like a different layout and design. There is a much bigger potential for getting dramatically higher conversions this way. Then do follow-up A/B tests on the winning page to increase conversions further - which moves us on to the next resolution…

4: Vow to get more testing budget from your boss. Gaining this extra budget will allow you to hire other conversion optimizers to improve your testing efficiency and results, and also to start using additional tools that will help you gain enhanced insights for testing. To help obtain this, create a presentation that highlights the monetary impact of what you have tested so far (not just on conversion rates!) and also outline potential key pages for future testing with the estimated monetary impact. This will be music to your bosses’ ears!

5: Vow to be more visitor-centric! Instead of just relying on just Web analytics data to form insights for testing, gain feedback from your visitors using surveys (like Qualaroo or SurveyMonkey) and usability tools (like UserTesting.com or Loop11). This is because you will be able to create much better insights for your test plans - resulting in tests that will likely yield much higher conversion lifts. Ultimately, remember it’s your visitors who know what engages them the most - not you or your HiPPO (highest paid person’s opinion).

6: Start experimenting with targeting to increase conversions. Targeting your website visitors with more relevant content that meets their needs to a greater extent is one of the most powerful ways to increase your conversion rates. It also engages your visitors much greater and increases the chance of them returning to your website to convert again. A simple, yet effective way of targeting is to use your testing tool to target new visitors arriving on your homepage and engage them better by showing them content like first time visitor guides or first time usage coupons. You can then start to target repeat visitors by showing them content relevant to what they have previously seen the most on your website. This stuff works. Trust me. Your competitors probably aren’t doing a good job with this either, so it’s a huge source of potential competitive advantage. 

7: Focus on improving and testing your mobile website. Don’t just simply force your visitors into trying to deal with browsing your website on their phone. They have specific needs on mobile phone devices (due to smaller screens, lack of mouse and slower connection times, for example) and if you don’t meet their needs, they will simply exit your website and go to a competitor’s that does a better job. Therefore you need to create, test and improve your mobile website as soon as possible or risk losing a rapidly expanding section of your visitors - and simplifying and focusing it on navigation is a great start. To increase conversions even further on it, don’t forget to make your key buttons/links and forms ‘fat-finger friendly’ to make them easier for visitors to interact with.

So there we have 7 New Year’s Resolution testing tips. If you vow to do even five of these in the coming months you (and your boss) will be thrilled with likely huge impact on your website conversion rates and online revenue.

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