Most website owners and online marketers spend a large proportion of their time on generating visits to their websites, not many people will disagree that this is fundamental for the success of any website. However, in generating revenue and customers from a website getting visits to the site is only half of the game, high traffic levels mean very little if you cannot turn those visits in to customers or revenue generating clicks.
Converting Visitors To Customers :
The conversion rate is a measure of how many visitors are being converted into paying customers. This metric is critical for a website owner because the conversion rate is largely separable from Internet traffic levels in terms of effects on profits. A high conversion rate can sustain a website even if traffic numbers fluctuate wildly. A website owner who is stuck at low profit levels and frustrated about how to proceed must simply improve his conversion rate.
A technique that is extremely simple to use and produces actionable results is A/B testing, also known as split testing. Split testing involves taking a single element on a website and changing it. The unchanged version and the changed version are then shown to an equal number of visitors. Whichever version yields a higher conversion rate wins and is implemented permanently.
How Split Testing Works :
Running a split test is akin to conducting a scientific experiment. The objective is to discover which version of a single element results in a higher conversion rate. Split testing is simple, but it is effective because it focuses on one component at a time and methodically proceeds through all of them until the entire website is finished. An obvious downside is the time it takes to fully test an entire website.
Split testing is simple in practice, but that simplicity belies a host of issues that can arise when conducting split tests. One common claim is that split testing never fully reveals the theoretical “global minimum.” The ultimate goal of a split test is to maximize the conversion rate and minimize the bounce rate. The bounce rate is the percentage of visitors that leave a web page immediately after landing on it. Ideally, the conversion rate would be 100 percent, and the bounce rate would be zero percent. This rarely, if ever, happens in practice.
To surmount this problematic claim, split testing goes through every possibility and tests it. By exhausting all the available options, split testing arrives at an absolute global minimum bounce rate for each factor on a page. This process may seem tedious, but it is essential to the goal of boosting the conversion rate to the highest level possible.
Practical Considerations :
Any item on a page can be tested, including images, colors, footers, textual content, call-to-action buttons, headers or any other element on the website. Creating an adequate test starts with knowing the goal of the site. That is, what is the action the website owner wishes his visitors to perform? Purchasing a product means that the conversion goal is getting a visitor to proceed through to the order confirmation page after making the purchase. The goal defines what the scope of the test is and also suggests page components to include in separate tests.
Why Use Split Testing?
This is an enormously powerful tool for website owners. It reveals the characteristics of their visitors in a simple and easy-to-understand way without using psychological tests or expensive market research techniques. In fact, if the website owner uses Google Website Optimizer, his tests will cost him nothing because Google Website Optimizer is free. In addition to the tutorials found at Website Optimizer you can read up more here on split testing and other methods to improve conversion rates.