You’ve just rolled out a new WordPress site for your business, complete with images, copy, an attractive theme, and well-considered calls-to-action. For many this would be the time to sit back, admire their work, and wait for the orders or leads to roll in. Once the site is done, nothing will be changed apart from the occasional blog post for the next couple of years.
Businesses that go about managing their web presence in this way are missing a trick. Web design is a complex business and almost no site will be maximally efficient at eliciting conversions at first. Sometimes that’s fine: the site serves as an online outpost for a business that generates most of its leads and revenue elsewhere. But for a business that relies on leads and sales generated by its site, complacency can be a real conversion killer.
The process of modifying a site to maximize conversions is known as conversion rate optimization, and split testing is its number one tool. Split testing, also known as a/b testing, a/b/x testing, and multivariate testing is not difficult to understand.
Take a page on a site and break it down into its constituent elements: copy, imagery, layout, typography, color design, navigation, and so on. Develop a hypothesis about changes to those elements that are likely to improve conversions. Implement those hypotheses — or a limited number of them — on an alternate page, and then serve the original page and its alternate to a proportion of users, tracking which garners the most conversions (or achieves some other goal). After enough time to gather statistically significant analytics, the “winning” page is made the page. More alternates are created, and on the testing goes.
Small changes have been shown to have quite large benefits for conversion rates, but if a tweak increases conversions by only a couple of percent, it’s well worth the effort.
Managing conversion rate optimization was historically quite tricky, but tools have been developed for content management systems like WordPress that make implementing split testing relatively straightforward. You’ll need some limited web dev chops to make the changes, but tracking the results of content experiments has never been easier.
Google Content Experiments
Google Content Experiments is part of Google Analytics, which is handy because most businesses with a site will have some familiarity with it. GA users can find Content Experiments under the Experiments option in the Content menu. WPBeginner has an excellent introduction to A/B testing with Content Experiments.
Nelio offers comprehensive multivariate testing for WordPress, allowing WordPress users to create as many variations as they need, designing experiments around page and post content, titles, themes, and other aspects. It even provides heat maps for tracking engagement. Unlike Google Content Experiments, Nelio’s testing is managed entirely from the WordPress admin dashboard. It’s not a free service, but if your site generates a significant revenue, then the cost is likely to be returned in new conversions.
AB Press Optimizer is another dedicated WordPress CRO tool. It’s slightly more expensive than Nelio, but it offers many of the same tools. Which you choose to use depends on your particular needs. AB Optimizer lays more emphasis on real time reporting, which won’t be useful to all site owners, but for those that need to track visitor actions as they happen, AB Press is an excellent tool.
Which of these tools your business chooses to use matters less than that it implements some sort of conversion rate optimization with split testing. Without careful experiments, your site is a shot in the dark; with testing, it can become a precisely targeted conversion machine.