Dirty Little Secret Nobody Tells
I’ve got a confession
to make. This may come as a surprise to you (after all, I’m a testing
fanatic)... But, testing doesn’t improve website conversion every
You About Website Testing...
By Eric Graham
all "online marketing gurus" promote the benefits of conducting
split tests and multi-variable tests on your website. But, few (if any)
tell you the WHOLE truth about how to test, what to test and what results
to realistically expect from your testing.
Many online markers become confused by and disappointed with their first
fledgling attempts at conducting testing campaigns on their websites.
Because their results
often don’t live up to the "hype", they become discourage
and simply assume that "testing doesn’t work" or "it’s
not worth the effort".
I hear this from
my clients all the time. They will tell me, "oh... I tried testing
on my site and it didn’t help."
Well... in an effort
to clear up a few of the misconceptions about testing and help folks
overcome some of the unrealistic expectations that simply set them up
for disappointment, I’m about to tell you the "dirty little
secret" that the gurus usually fail to mention.
Every variable you
test will NOT automatically improve sales. In fact MOST of the variables
you test will either reduce response or make no measurable difference!
In fact, after conducting
over 6,000 split and multivariable tests over the past six years I’ve
generated some pretty good data on what you can expect to achieve in
a typical testing campaign.
In most multivariable
tests only 1/4 to 1/3 of your variables will boost response. Another
1/4 to 1/3 of your test variables will actually reduce response. And
1/3 to 1/2 of your variables won’t make a measurable difference.
not entirely true. If you run any test long enough a winner will usually
emerge, but it is not worth the trouble to let a campaign run for months
on end just for a 1/10th of a percent improvement in conversion.)
Of course, the more
experience you gain in testing, the better your odds of finding a variable
that will be a winner... but you still have no guarantees.
that you are sure will boost sales, wind up having no effect or worse,
tests where a 1 year guarantee was tested against NO guarantee and the
no guarantee version won. I’ve conducted price tests in which
we tested $17 vs. $97 and $97 converted better! (Not just higher visitor
value, but actually higher conversion!)
So it really is
impossible to know in advance what version or variable is going to win.
Experience and prior testing data can help you make an educated guess,
but you still have to test it and see.
I view selecting
test variables, kind of like picking stocks. You can do all of your
homework, use a variable that has boosted response on every other site
you tested and still not have a winner.
And the opposite
can happen. You can test a variable that you are almost positive will
be a dog, (or even make an error when setting up your variables) and
it can boost response. I’ve often seen headlines that I hated
or graphic images that were down right UGLY convert better than the
more appealing versions.
So just like picking
a stock, past performance doesn’t guarantee future results! Every
single variable you test will not be a winner. In fact when it comes
to the stock market, if you can pick a winning trade just 51% of the
time, you’ll become rich.
The same principle
applies to test variable selection. If you’re able to consistently
pick winning variables 50% or the time or more, you’re doing an
outstanding job! (Or you’re simply not running enough tests...)
Now, am I telling
you all of this to discourage you from testing? ABSOLUTELY NOT!
Like I said at the
beginning of the article, I’m a testing fanatic.
small businesses transformed into "big" businesses almost
overnight via proper testing.
a laid off, single father go from struggling to pay the bills selling
an ebook to making a solid six figure income by only tweaking and testing
4 items on his sales letter.
Done right (and
with proper expectations) testing can indeed change your life and transform
I just want to make
sure that you go into the process with the right, long term mindset
and that you don’t become discouraged and quit if your first attempts
at testing fail to yield earth shattering improvements in response.
The good news for
testing is, because you can flush the variables that don’t boost
response and only keep the "winners", even if you only pick
a winner 10% of the time you’ll still make huge gains in conversion
and response over the long haul.
About the Author
Eric Graham is the owner and CEO of several successful online and offline
businesses. Recognized as one of the top authorities on eCommerce and
Internet Marketing, Eric is a sought after speaker and consultant. He
is also the publisher of the Conversion Tips newsletter. Visit www.web-site-evaluations.com
to sign up for a free subscription.
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