I discovered Google Content Experiments a couple of weeks ago. If, like me, you’re already using Google Analytics and tracking conversion rates, it’s incredibly easy to set up A/B tests.
I wanted to test a common hypothesis about short copy. For example, Jakob Nielsen’s research says that visitors read about 20% of the text on a page and that a 50% reduction in word count produces a 58% improvement in a page’s usability.
I was testing a page on the Turbine tour. It’s a landing page for Google Ads so it needs to convert well to reduce the cost of customer acquisition. The call to action is a free trial signup on the page itself. I expected a small uplift in the number of conversions on the page with the shorter text.
So, I tried two variants of the page, which is about online purchase ordering. The original had 609 words. The revised version had just 148 words. You can see the dramatic difference in length and word density in these two screen shots.
The experiment ran for about two weeks before it had enough traffic to declare a winner. Here’s a graph of conversions for the two different variants over the time.
The results are conclusive. Short text beat long text 11 conversions to 5 and a conversion rate of 5.95% to 2.53%. This is an improvement of 135% overall.
So, do you want to double your website’s conversion rate? Here’s how: halve the copy and then halve it again.
Do your own experiments
In WordPress, this is my recipe for A/B testing:
- Install the Google Content Experiments plugin.
- Create one or more alternative pages to the test control page (the page you’re experimenting on)
- Set up the experiment in Google Analytics (look in the Contents menu for Experiments and click Create experiment)
- Follow the instructions
- Take the short bit of code Analytics gives you and drop it into the box on the control page provided by Google Control Experiments.
- Bob’s your aunt’s husband.
- Once the experiment is finished, you’ll need to change the URL of the winning page so that it replaces the control page URL (or of course leave it alone if the control won!). But remember to redirect the losing page URLs in case anyone bookmarked them. I use the Redirection plugin for this.