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How to Increase Conversions With Google Website Optimizer

This guest post is by Joe Burnett of Who’s Your Blogger?

“I have a pretty (un)healthy obsession with email lists. I’m constantly telling my readers to focus on growing a list of active, engaged, and interested email subscribers.”—Blog Tyrant

You can capture emails with only one ethical plan: the visitor will have to give you his or her email by typing it in.

How do you get your readers to type in their email addresses? Will you use a pop-up lightbox, a sidebar subscribe form, or a subscribe form below your posts? Maybe you’ll give your readers a small, ethical

What do I use? All of them! Each and every one of my past and present blogs went through a quick elimination process to find which tactic captured the most emails.

Never ask someone which email capturing tactic works best for them. The answer depends on the style of your readers, and the niche your blog is in. Is the readers’ attention span short, do they get annoyed, and do they take time to look at their surroundings?

But on your own blog, there is a reliable way to find out which tactic works best.

Testing your email capturing tactics

Google Website Optimizer is a great tool you can use to increase email opt in conversions. It’s surprisingly easy to use and produces great feedback, graphs, charts, and results.

How do you get started? First, you obviously need to login, or create a Google account. Click the Get Started button, agree to their terms and get ready to capture so many emails other bloggers think you’re stealing them.

Getting started

Currently you should be at your dashboard looking something like this…

Google Website Optimizer dashboard

Google Website Optimizer dashboard

Once you’re at the dashboard, click Create a new experiment.

You have two option here, and one is a lot easier to use than the other. The first option is called the A/B Experiment. You shouldn’t choose that, because it will involve completely changing the page you test, and for this exercise, we only want to change the opt-in form on our page.

The Multivariate Experiment gives you the ability to change specific section(s) on the page in isolation. In this case, we want to change our subscribe form.

Google Website Optimizer multivariate experiment

Google Website Optimizer multivariate experiment

Next, you need to enter in the URL of page that you’re trying to test. This could be your blog’s home page or a specific post or page you’ve created. If you’re really daring go straight into your themes files to edit them, allowing the testing to be done on your entire WordPress blog!

The Conversion page is the location where new subscribers land after the subscribe to your blog. Both Mail Chimp and Aweber give you the option to redirect visitors back to your website after subscribing.

Setting up the experiment

Setting up the experiment

Now Google Website Optimizer knows the pages that are used in the conversion process. We need to give the service access to those pages by using a little bit of JavaScript. Google will give you some code snippets, and all you need to do is paste it inside the pages you specified above.

Google Website Optimizer provides the code

Google Website Optimizer provides the code

Once, you’ve added all of your JavaScript tags, click, Continue to verify the tags. A small lightbox should pop up to let you know that Google found the tags on your blog.

Click Continue to verify the tags

Click Continue to verify the tags

Making changes to test

Now it’s time to make changes to the areas of the page that you specified. You can change your opt-in form to produce a higher conversion in many ways.

  • Change the headline.
  • Add a picture.
  • Reduce the amount of textboxes. (Instead of Name and Email fields, try just an Email textbox.)
  • Change the background color.
  • Edit the text.
  • Change the Submit button to something less standard.

Once you’ve made the changes you want to test, you can sit back and wait to see which opt-in form converts the most visitors into subscribers.

The results

Below are the results for testing the opt-in form on my website. When I ran the test, I decided that whichever combination of visuals achieved the best results would be the combination I’d use on my blog.

Google Website Optimizer test results

Google Website Optimizer test results

As you can see, I created five different versions of my opt-in form. During this test, the original actually performed better than all of my other combinations, with an almost unreal 41.7% conversion rate. That’s almost one out of every two visitors signing up.

The combinations were different because of the headlines and descriptions I used. I used three different headlines along with two different descriptions:

  • Headline #1: How Does It Work?
  • Headline #2: Guest Blogging Rocks!
  • Headline #3: Guest Blogging Never Fails.
  • Description #1: Who’s Your Blogger is an online guest post exchanging platform. We make it easy to accept guest posts, and find blogs to guest post on. Best of all, it’s fast, easy, and free!
  • Description #2: Who’s Your Blogger has helped me land my guest posts on ProBlogger, Copy Blogger, and even John Chow. Trust me, Who’s Your Blogger has tripled my guest post production rate!

The results were:

  • Original: Headline #1 & Description #1 – Conversion Rate: 41.7%
  • Combination #1: Headline #2 & Description #1 – Conversion Rate: 20%
  • Combination #2: Headline #3 & Description #1 – Conversion Rate: 30.4%
  • Combination #3: Headline #1 & Description #2 – Conversion Rate: 25%
  • Combination #4: Headline #2 & Description #2 – Conversion Rate: 31%
  • Combination #5: Headline #3 & Description #2 – Conversion Rate: 21.4%

As the results show, my original message outperformed all of my other combinations, so it would make no sense to change the headline and description.

What can I do now? Of course there are many different tests I can run on my site. I might want to do the same test over again, but spend some more time coming up with headlines and descriptions that really rock!

Have you used Google Website Optimizer before? How do you like it? Leave your opinion below…

Joe Burnett is an amazing guest blogger. He created Who’s Your Blogger? to help increase your chances of landing guest posts on popular blogs by over 534%, and to find free unique content to publish on your blog. He teaches you exactly how to guest post and build a popular blog at the Who’s Your Blogger? Guest Blogging Blog!

About Guest Blogger
This post was written by a guest contributor. Please see their details in the post above.
  1. Wow great post Joe, I’ll definitely try to build my own list when I start professionally. You’ve just opened my eyes. Thanks.

  2. Great post Joe. I stumbled across the optimizer the other day while working with adwords but jumped straight back out …. Now I can see a use for it, cheers.

  3. Food for thought, Joe.

    I gave the website optimizer a shot, a few months back. I may have messed up the steps I needed to follow, or misinterpreted the resulting data.

    Those are quite interesting stats, so I may have to get myself more familiar with this particular tool.

    I do make certain adjustments to my site, then sit back and allow a little time to watch for any noticeable changes in performance.

    In truth, I am still trying to get a greater understanding of both Google Analytic s, and Google webmaster Tools.

    • Joe Burnettt says: 09/27/2011 at 9:00 pm

      Yea, sadly it does take a while to get going full force with Google Website Optimizer, but once you’ve done it before (the correct way) it should be easier next time.

  4. Brilliant! I’ve been waiting for this very post.

    Your explanation of how to set and use Google Website Optimizer is straight forward and easy to understand. Thanks.

    Nice work Joe :)

  5. Fantastic article and thanks for including my quote up the top!

  6. Great information and helpful instructions for everyone. Great Job, Joe. bb

  7. Hey Joe,
    I have my newsletter sign up after my posts and on the sidebar of my blog and also if you go to my FaceBook Fan page it is the first thing that you see.

    What worked best for me to get people to sign up was to use the bribe technique by offering a free eBook.I have to say that on page analytics is a great tool to find which option has the best conversion rate.

    • Joe Burnettt says: 09/27/2011 at 9:02 pm

      I agree, that is a great tool, and also agree with giving the visitors some sort of gift for subscribing. Nice job!

  8. This is pretty interesting! I can split test forms with Aweber too, but my custom text with css stuff always outperforms the standard Aweber header forms. Still… a 41 percent opt-in rate? That is insane! Even my squeeze pages only get an average of 32 percent from cold to warm traffic…

    Maybe its my niche, but I am always testing tracking and improving!

    Thanks for the awesome tutorial and congrats on your results!
    -Gabriel Johansson

    • Yea, when I first got a heap of traffic to my website I was so surprised how many people signed up, and with Google Website Optimizer the results are moving up even more!

  9. Hey Joe, that looks really cool. however, my question is how you test for other key variables? There may be other factors to keep into consideration such as the time the experiment was promoted (ie when it was shared on Twitter), how each was promoted etc. Also, conversion rates are extremely important, but they aren’t everything. One experiment might have a better conversion rate, but might not draw as many visitors as one that has the potential to go viral. Ultimately, isn’t it really about the number of opt ins you get rather than the conversion rate itself? Tough call I guess, but thanks so much for the post! Really good info here!

    • Joe Burnett says: 09/28/2011 at 9:05 pm

      The best time to perform these tests is when your getting the same traffic over and over again. That’s one reason why I guest post, so I can test my conversions fast and accurately.

  10. Great post, i agree that email lists are important. Next to search engine traffic it is the most important. They are people who trust you and usually repeat visitors.

    • Exactly some email lists of only 800-1000 subscribers earn thousands of dollars per month because of the amount of targeted subscribers.

  11. Thanks for the post, great walk through. I started messing around with the optimizer a while ago but had no idea the depth it offered. Thanks for the info, much appreciated,
    – Willis

  12. Yes I agree, testing everything is so important. Like where to put your form, the style of form, the look of your blog and even the content on it. Again there is no one answer or a one size fits all approach, it is different for different niches and what works well in one may not work so well for another. I do have to admit that it can be tough to test something. Once you have put hard work into putting something together it feels wrong to take it apart to try something else, guess that human nature.

  13. Thanks for sharing this awesome article… but is there any other way to increase the conversions?

  14. My response does not appear. I would like to say thanks for sharing this insightful post. I will try it on my blog to see what ads suit my blog. :)

  15. Website Optimizer is a powerful testing tool; we use it regularly with our clients.

    Although multivariate testing is great for trying text combinations and other non-design tweaks, don’t rule out the use of A/B testing completely. You can get results that are just as powerful from changes to headline size and placement, button labeling, photo placement, etc.

    A great site for learning about A/B and multivariate tests is http://whichtestwon.com.

  16. Thanks for the concrete example Joe, I love Google products, but never sat down to use the Website Optimizer, but I will check it out this weekend for sure.

    Also just signed up for Who’s Your Blogger, can’t wait to try that also.

  17. This was an awesome post! I loved reading it so much. It did scare me a little, with the troubleshooting part. I still need to learn so much about the troubleshooting. But my hosting company is really great and they always did help me from the beginning.

    I only started blogging 6 month’s ago, and when I did I knew absolutely nothing about any technical stuff, and to learn as much as I did in such a short period of time I pretty much stayed up with no sleep for two month’s and just read and read, when I look back I don’t even know how I did all that.

    Thank you for this post!

  18. Hi Joe,

    Thanks for the great post! Have you seen Zentester? It’s an alternative to GWO that I recently switched to and I find it way easier to set up and run tests with (it’s got a visual editor rather than requiring code inserting like GWO).

    It also gives heatmaps and videos of visitors using the site and you can use it for free as well.

    Regards, Tim

  19. Thanks for this interesting article! I found it very interesting. You really make it seem so easy with your presentation.

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