How Do You Optimize A Low‑traffic Site?

October 23, 2007

This was the question that someone asked on the Yahoo WA Forum today. “I work with B2B sites that have 2-5K visits a month,” the writer commented. A lot of things I learned at the eMetrics summit won’t work for me, he worried. In particular, he commented on multivariate testing, and how much easier that is for a site with a lot of traffic.

So is he right? Are those techniques mostly for large sites?

I think that split and MVT is harder for small sites, but not impossible. And let’s not assume that the game ends there, either.

So, let’s say that your site gets 5000 visits/month, and 20% of those people touch the page you want to test (e.g. the home page). So that’s 1000 visits/month, or 33 visits/day. If the conversion rate on the page is 2% and you are looking for/hoping for an increase to 2.5%, i.e. a 25% increase in your conversion rate, you can run four combinations and complete your test in a month. (If you want to check my math, go use my favorite tool, the Website Optimizer Calculator. ) Four combinations can be 2×2 or 1×4. Or, in real-people-speak, that would be two elements, like a headline and a photo, with a control and variation that you want to test for each of them. Or that could be one element, like a piece of copy, with a control and three variations you are testing. Either way, it is four combinations.

Granted, not 400, but helpful nonetheless. I find myself doing tests like this all the time, because I just want to know {fill in the blanks}. I just need to figure something out.

And how about A/B testing? One of my colleagues pointed out to me that an A/B test, early in the process, might be a lot more valuable than a whole bunch of multivariate combinations, especially when you can look at a site and say, “Oh my, how awful. We really think we know how to fix this.”

And not all optimization is about MVT or A/B..N. How about user testing? I really feel that user testing never gets enough press. It isn’t exciting like MVT, but I learn so much from it. When I present it to the customer, s/he often says, “Oh right, usability,” but the truth is, we learn things about the offer (“I would never spend that much money,”), we learn about trust, (“Well, ok, it’s your credit card,” they say to me, “But I would never give that site my card. I just don’t trust them.”) We learn that customers can’t even understand what the site does.

And now that you know that you can use the Google Website Optimizer for even the smallest of sites, head on over to sign up for one of the GWO upcoming webinars. There are going to be two webinars,  GWO for Newbies and GWO for Intermediate/Advanced folks. Tom Leung, the Chief Executive Officer of Website Optimizer says, send him questions ahead of time, and I really believe he will address them.

Introduction to Website Optimizer (New or inexperienced users)
Tuesday, October 30th, 2007 10:00 – 11:00am PDT
Register to attend

Website Optimizer: Creating & Launching Experiments (Intermediate and
advanced users)
Thursday, November 1st, 2007 10:00 – 11:00am PDT
Register to attend