Conversion optimisation the value of multivariate testing

The online retail space is more competitive than ever. George Ioannou, Head of Creative & Strategy at Maginus, argues that it no longer needs to be a case of trial and error for retailers when trying to build relationships with online customers. The introduction of multivariate testing can help companies test and respond quickly to improve website performance.

In the current retail market it is essential that businesses do their upmost to encourage customers to return and make regular purchases. The latest figures from IMRG Capgemini Index revealed that online sales jumped 17% year-on-year in December, to a record 5.46bn, which shows there are plenty of opportunities to be had.

While search engine optimisation (SEO) techniques can help boost your search rankings and get potential customers to the site, they dont inspire customers to actually part with their cash. Multivariate testing is currently an area of high growth in internet marketing as it helps website owners ensure that they are getting the most from the visitors arriving at their site. While services such as SEO, Pay per Click and email marketing drive traffic to a site, multivariate testing allows internet marketers to trial variations on items such as offers, content and layout, and see which best converts users to sale, registration or the desired action once they arrive at the website. Ultimately multivariate testing helps to turn more visitors to customers and helps to increase average order value.

The smart retailers are realising that not optimising their flagship store the website hits profits and can do untold damage to the value of the brand. Those same retailers are doing everything they can to improve online shopping experiences in an uncertain economy. More and more retailers are turning to website optimisation technologies such as multivariate testing to improve visitors online experience.

Its very easy for a retailer to turn a customer off with a single bad web experience. Customers can be put off for a number of reasons. It could be shoppers are unhappy with the way information is displayed or they found it hard to find the goods that they were looking for. This is the unhappy picture many customers face when shopping on sites that have not been fine-tuned or optimised for visitors. The smallest changes can make the biggest difference to a retailers bottom line. For example it could be something as simple as the location and size of the add to basket button, headlines identifying promotional offers, styles of tabs or the workflow of the checkout path. Testing allows retailers to present multiple variations of content and discover which content visitors prefer and respond to most positively. 

The technology is very sophisticated and allows retailers to test the response of different groups of customers e.g. customers who shop at the weekend or who arrive from a particular search engine etc.  This allows retailers to understand visitors better and to test a different view of the web site to different groups of customers to potentially maximize results. 

This kind of web optimisation can help drive online sales during a time when consumers dont have as much disposable income as they did a few years ago. However, its not only consumers making purchases that are valued. A retailer may set itself other targets such as signing up new subscribers or having visitors access information on the site.

Obviously the more traffic a site has then it becomes easier to spot trends and patterns, however the technology can make an impact on businesses of all sizes. The technology also allows retailers to get on with their day-to-day business and not waste valuable time disagreeing internally with what they think works on a site and what doesnt.

By removing the guess work from the equation this approach provides a compelling argument for achieving even better sales for your site. Neither is the technology a passing fad with many retailers using this technology to get closer to their customers and provide great service. Previously this type of technology was very expensive but its now a solution that medium sized retailers can benefit from too.

Also, retailers introducing this technology into the business can benefit from fast ROI as they will be able to make changes that will improve the operational efficiencies of the site almost immediately, making a real difference.

By using multivariate testing the retailer no longer assumes that they think they know what their customers want from their online shopping experience, but has real evidence as to what makes them reach their buying decisions.

Overall, online businesses are keen on keeping consumers engaged and coming back for more. By using real data from real consumers multivariate testing provides retailers the opportunity to tailor their sites to continually meet the needs of their customers.



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