Convert More Perusers into Users with A/B testing and KissMetrics

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One of the keys to success for a Startup company is keeping down the cost of acquiring new customers.  One way to do that is to convert a higher percentage of your visitors into paying customers.  I’ve been doing some work on this for my Startup OtherNumber with great results.  Hopefully you can apply this to your own Startup!

Getting Traffic isn’t enough

If you have a web application then I’m sure you’ve built a way for people to register for an account.  I mean, unless you’re a freak or something.

So you write some snazzy copy, extol the virtues of your app and explain why people would have to be crazy not to sign up for it.  Maybe you write too much copy.  Maybe Leo Tolstoy would balk at the copy on your homepage.  Maybe you just wrote the wrong thing.  Your customers need a voicemail platform but you’re blabbering on and on about SMS.

In any case, people aren’t signing up.  You get traffic to your site by running across the field in the middle of the super bowl with a URL on your ass chest but your conversion rate is terrible. (For the record, I don’t recommend doing that.)

So what do you do?

Experimentation is not just for college students

What you need is a way to test different versions of your “Call to Action” phraseology.  Maybe it’s your wording, your comparison charts or even the color of the button!

You need to build multiple variations of the page and choose randomly which one to display. (Well, random is not always best but for now we’ll go with that…)  My app is written in PHP so if yours is written in something else then you’ll have to translate it.

$body = "one";
if ( rand() % 2 == 1) { $body = "two"; }
$_SESSION['layout'] = $body;
include($_SERVER['DOCUMENT_ROOT']."/inc/home_page_$body.php");

Simple right? No.  That will randomly present the users with two (2) different versions of your page but you’ll have no idea which one is the most effective.  That’s where the KISSMetrics comes in…

Measure Everything

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]With KissMetrics, you get the ability to record events that happen on your site and these events can be tied to page loads but they don’t have to be.  The Javascript API is very straightforward and that’s what I’m going to use in this example.  There are other APIs including PHP but I’m saving that for another post…

So you put this code in your PHP page…

<script type="text/javascript">
  if (document.location.pathname.toLowerCase() == "/" )
    KM.record("Home Page", { "Version": "<?php echo $_SESSION['layout']; ?>"})
  if (document.location.pathname.toLowerCase() == "/account/register.php" )
    KM.record("Self Register", { "Version": "<?php echo $_SESSION['layout']; ?>"})
</script>

And what you get as output in your browser is this:

<script type="text/javascript">
  if (document.location.pathname.toLowerCase() == "/" )
    KM.record("Home Page", { "Version": "two"})
  if (document.location.pathname.toLowerCase() == "/account/register.php" )
    KM.record("Self Register", { "Version": "two"})
</script>

So with this block of code added to the head of my html document the KM.record verb gets called on both the root of the site and on the page that processes the signup form.  The data you pass in with this function is where the magic happens.  Use easy to read descriptions as your page names because that’s what will show up in your report.  The { “Version”: “two” } is the real secret sauce.  Now you know not only that a certain user went from / to /account/register.php but you know which version of the home page they saw!

What you end up with in KISSMetrics is some awesome visualization.  Here’s an example from my usage of this technique on othernum.com

So here I can see that the “two” version of the homepage was twice as effective at convincing people to fill out the signup form!  The next step is to make two new homepages that are slight variations of the “two” version that worked so much better.

Other Next Steps:

  1. Explore the PHP API
  2. Use three or more test cases at once…
  3. do micro tests by performing variations on button text or color
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Published in: on February 21, 2010 at 05:21  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Ever thought about trying mixpanel.com? We’ve been loving it. =)

    • I’ve heard of it but I haven’t looked at it. I’ve been very happy with KISSMetrics so far.


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