Testing is boring…NOT.

Any analytics expert will tell you that watching trends go up and down can be a titillating and thrilling experience. It’s like a chess game where you compete with yourself to outdo your previous accomplishments. It is a duel with yourself.

The prize?

Your business grows.

This is why Mindvalley decided to invest in a dedicated team to run tests on our websites. Many companies have done it as well. If you’re not of them yet, you could potentially be losing millions of dollars. So if you think testing and optimization is boring –

Think again.

Why should you optimize your website?

Imagine that you’re going out on a date. You’d probably worry about what to wear, where to go, what to say and how to seal the deal at the end of the night (whatever this might mean for you).

Websites are kind of like that. Companies spend so much time grooming their websites because they take potential customers out on a date through their websites. Therefore, we need to make sure that ours are optimized to give our audience a savory experience.

What exactly makes an audience’s experience savory? The following would be our checklist for the ideal suitor.

  • Capture their interest. From the design to the headline, a website should be captivating.

  • Be user-friendly. Would you have someone solve a rubik’s cube on your first date? We don’t think so.

  • Be trustworthy. If you give off a friendly and genuine impression, you are more likely to establish a real connection. This is why social proof such as a Facebook widget, testimonials and photos are very important.

  • Be interesting. A yawn is almost always a bad sign (and it is contagious).

  • Have a clear call to action. Many dates have ended badly when people are “sending mixed signals.” Do not fall into this trap! Your visitor must know what they are expected to do – and you should make this clear to them.

How do we optimize our websites?

There are different elements that make up an optimized website, such as copy, design, headline and even order menus.

Each element has a role to play and we need to make sure that they are dressed for the part – tweaked, changed or innovated upon to meet the list of goals provided above. For example, headlines can be amended several times to see which ones get more responses.

But a few things should be taken into consideration first to ensure that you meet your objective. For instance:

– What is your level of market sophistication?

– What is the angle that you want to use?

– Are you going to lead them differently with your choice of words?

– Are you going to head straight to the point?

Different elements could work well or poorly for different products and audiences, so there are thousands of combinations that an analyst can play with.

What comes next is measuring the performance of the original version of the page, compared to the amended one, based on the elements that have been changed.

How do we measure the performance of the optimizations?

While there are many indicators that constitute the performance of a website, three of those areas are the most important – unique visitors, sign-up rates and sales.

There are testing tools available on the net that allow you to measure the performance of different pages based on certain goals and rules that you set. Mindvalley is currently using the Visual Website Optimizer.

These testing tools have a simple way of working. You have the original version of the page and the amended page. You will specify these pages using the tools and identify a conversion page. A conversion page is the page that they land on after they sign-up or after they purchase your product. You can see the performance of each page and make decisions based on valid data.

How do we decide on the best version?

Some people view a winning page as one with more sign-ups or sales. This is not true – it’s not a “who-has-more-game” situation. When making a decision about which version of the page to go with, the most important factor to consider is the statistical difference between the two versions.

In simple terms, we calculate if the performance of one version is significantly better than the other. There are tools to calculate this as well. If a page significantly outperforms the other, we roll it out.

However, do take note that testing is a supplement to decision-making, NOT a replacement. Before we run tests, we consider factors that include customer relationships, corporate branding, leverage, halo effect, market trends, psychological triggers and many more. But with testing, decisions can be made with the presence of real validated data.

In the end, testing and optimizing websites are very important parts of a company, especially if you wish to grow and keep up with the ever-changing trends of the market. It is a dynamic practice, and a really exciting one too. It gives science to the otherwise ambiguous world that is the Internet.

[googleplusauthor] is the Project Manager of Mindvalley’s Analytics and Innovations Team.

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