Running A/B Tests With Google Optimize
Knowing whether your landing pages or website content are hitting the mark with customers is vital. However, you don’t want to confuse your site’s users with duplicate pages of content, so gathering data for testing purposes has its challenges.
Fortunately, Google Optimize offers some powerful tools that make A/B testing your web pages much easier. The data you gather through Google’s Marketing Platform tools is a first-rate way to strategize User Experience (UX) improvements for your site.
In this article, we’ll explain what A/B testing is and why you should be using it. We’ll also go over the Google Optimize application, and discuss how to set up testing for your site. Let’s get to work!
What Is A/B Testing?
A/B testing is also sometimes referred to as ‘split testing’. It’s a technique that enables you to monitor an existing web page’s metrics, alongside a variation of the same page. In other words, you can create two versions of the same content to see which one performs better.
The goal is to see which small changes to your page might result in significant increases in conversions, engagement, or whatever your target metric is. Then, you can make the best version live on your website for all users. An A/B test can be conducted to see if something as simple as your Call-To-Action (CTA) button’s color is hurting your conversion rate.
Regardless of the aspect you decide to test, it’s best to have one or two clear objectives rather than testing an entirely redesigned page. This is because when you make multiple changes, it’s difficult to identify which one had the most impact on the metrics you’re tracking.
Why You Should Be A/B Testing
Alongside the simple fact that A/B testing is a tried-and-true method for gathering data, there are other reasons to use it. For example, it’s an excellent way to pinpoint the exact elements of your site that need work, and fine-tune them.
For example, as we mentioned previously, you can use A/B testing to see if a blue CTA button yields better results than a red one. Other reasons to implement this technique include:
- This is a strategy that can be used continuously. After each change you make to your page, you can run another test to evaluate the next element.
- A/B testing can be used to tackle nearly all the parts of your website. This means you can test heading styles, checkout processes, buttons, navigation menus, and more.
- The choice of colors on your website has a significant impact on consumer behaviors. A/B testing can help you decide which color schemes are best for your target audience.
Regardless of what data you hope to collect, we recommend using A/B tests as a part of your web design workflow.
What Is Google Optimize?
Google Optimize is a free tool that integrates with the Google Analytics platform. It enables you to set up comprehensive A/B tests for your website, and gather valuable data that you can use to improve your site.
Pros & Cons of Using Google Optimize
While Google is widely recognized the leader in search and website data tracking, there are some pros and cons to consider before you jump in.
- You’ll be getting the full benefit of multiple Google data points.
- You can set everything up for free.
- Integrating your Analytics and Optimize accounts is easy.
- Google AdSense can also be integrated with Optimize to test ad experiences.
- Setting up Optimize with WordPress for free requires some coding knowledge.
- You’ll need to install a premium plugin if you want to integrate Optimize with your website and avoid any coding.
In all honesty, there are more pros than cons when choosing to use Google Optimize. With that being said, let’s dive into the steps you’ll need to complete the setup process in WordPress.
How to Set Up Google Optimize for WordPress
There are a few things you’ll need before you can get started with Optimize. Having a Google Analytics account set up ahead of time will make the process easier. Once you have that in place, you can proceed with the following steps.
Step 1: Create a Google Optimize Account
From the Google Optimize home page, you’ll select Get Started to begin the account setup process:
After choosing your preferred email notification settings, you’ll need to select your Optimize configurations, accept Google’s terms of service, and click on Done:
Next, you’ll be dropped into the Optimize dashboard, where you can create your first test. However, in order to connect to your WordPress website and leverage all of the available data, you need to connect your Optimize account to Google Analytics first.
Step 2: Link Your Google Analytics Account to Google Optimize
Once you set up your Optimize account, you’ll see your first ‘container’. To link to your Google Analytics account, you’ll want to select Link Property on the right side of that container:
Next, you’ll be prompted to choose from your existing Google Analytics properties. If you don’t have any listed, you’ll need to set up your Analytics account first:
Then you’ll be asked to give approval. This means you’ll allow data to flow back and forth between your website, Analytics, and Optimize. Check the All Web Site Data box, and click on Link:
You’ll then receive a snippet of code that needs to be added to your WordPress website, in order to enable testing with Optimize.
Step 3: Add the Optimize Code Snippet to Your WordPress Website
Here’s where you’ll have to make a decision. This process is simple if you’re using the MonsterInsights Pro plugin. If that’s the case, you can simply add your Google Optimize Container ID in the Insights > Settings > Conversions tab of your WordPress dashboard.
If you don’t have the pro version of that plugin and are comfortable adjusting your site’s code, you can add the snippet manually instead. This can require slightly different approaches, depending on which analytics code you are using.
There are three possibilities that require separate considerations:
Google provides detailed instructions for each of the different methods. What matters is that you’ll need to place your code snippet in the appropriate place in order to test and track your pages.
How to Run A/B Tests With Google Optimize
Once you have your code snippet in place and your site is connected to Optimize, you can create your first A/B test. This is done within the container that was created when you established your Optimize account.
Step 1: Create an A/B Test in Google Optimize
From your container screen in Optimize, click Let’s Go to get started. You’ll have access to a panel on the right side of the page. There, you can name your experience and input the URL of the page you want to test, along with the type of test you want to conduct:
This sets the ‘control’ page for your test. When you’re all set, click on Create. You’ll then be able to create variants of your main test page.
Step 2: Input the Information You Want to Test
At this point, you’ll have access to all of the different configurations you can use in setting up your test. One of the key elements is the ‘variant weights’:
This is where you can establish how website users will encounter the variations of your page. Different amounts of visitors will be routed to one page or another, based on the weights you set for each. In the example above, traffic will be evenly distributed across the variants.
Step 3: Adjust and Configure Your A/B Test Options
Google Optimize offers a pretty sophisticated slate of testing options. After you set the initial variants and weights, you have other options you can tweak as well:
This includes page (or URL) targeting and audience targeting. These are detailed and valuable ways to use your data, but they require a bit of know-how as well. For example, if you want to use Audience Targeting, you’ll need to set up an ‘audience’ in Google Analytics before selecting that option in Optimize.
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