Monthly Archives: August 2016

What is Split Testing?

HiRes

In case the terminology is not on your radar, I’ll begin by revealing that the wonderous, the truly splendiferous, process of split testing is carried out by phizz-whizzing, whoopsy-splunker web designers who know what’s what when it comes to boosting conversion rates (there’s no prizes for guessing what I saw at the cinema last night!). In more detail, (and I’ll try and be sensible), the process is used to compare different versions of the same webpage in order to identify the page that performs best. With the results to hand, web designers can determine whether changes to the website will have a positive impact on conversion rates or not. (I’ll explain conversion rate optimisation in a moment).

Split Testing/ A/B Testing/ Multivariate Testing

Before going any further, it’s important to note that split testing may also be referred to as A/B Testing, or multivariate testing. While both terms fall under the split testing umbrella, these processes have key differences; A/B testing is the most basic split test which compares version A (original) against a version B (variation), whereas multivariate testing enables you to test multiple changes at the same time. It really depends on your goal as to what method is best to use. For example, if you are considering major, back-end design changes, split testing is the best method to use, whereas for simple, front-end changes (like changing the colour of a button) A/B testing is preferred.

Conversion Rate Optimisation

When we talk about conversion rates we are referring to the percentage of visitors who end up reaching a given goal, i.e. when a visitor to your website takes an action that you want them to take such as making a purchase, signing up for an email newsletter, downloading an app, or any other type of online activity (‘call to action’ in marketing terms).

A conversion rate optimisation plan is carried out during the early stages of the split testing process to identify pages with low conversion rates, or high-drop off rates that can be improved upon. Google Analytics, Kissmetrics or other analytics services can help with analytics reports and insights via click through rates and on-site metrics as well. With this data you can create an informed test hypothesis which may cover changes such as the colour of a button, navigation elements, adding a button or link or something entirely custom.

Split Testing Software

Deciding on the most effective type of split testing software can seem daunting due to the amount of options available to choose from, however, to give you an insight, here are three of the most popular tools available:

Google Content Experiments: this free service is offered via Google Analytics and lets you split test variants within the programme.

Visual Website Optimizer (VWO): this is similar to Google Content Experiments, but in addition includes a what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) editor. This means that you can make changes to the page for testing purposes without having to change the underlying HTML or CSS code. VWO offers a free 30-day trial.

Optimizely: this is similar to VWO in that it provides a WYSIWIG editor so you can make changes easily without having to alter the HTML or CSS code.

Testing/ Results

When the test is run, the traffic is randomly split among the different versions to see which version performs best. By tracking the performance of the webpages, web designers can implement positive design changes based upon the accurate, informative data. This takes the guesswork out of website optimisation and should put you in good stead for creating a whoopsy whiffling website (sorry, couldn’t help throwing one last BFG reference in there) with all the attributes needed for achieving a healthy return on investment (ROI). And we all want a whoopsy wiffling website, right?

Translations:
Phizz-whizzing – brilliant
Whoopsy-splunkers – fantastic
Whoopsy wiffling – Great
(Roald Dahl’s BFG)

Is Automation the future of Content Marketing?

Robotic hand, accessing on laptop, the virtual world of information. Concept of artificial intelligence and replacement of humans by machines.

Technology is playing an increasingly crucial part in refining both the creation and execution of our content marketing, but will there ever be a day when content marketing can be left to look after itself?  It’s certainly an appealing thought with automation saving time, money and resources on an area which is probably one of the most stretched in your department.  Good content takes time, thought and planning to be successful so anything that can help make life easier will be well received.

There’s a multitude of resources available for those wishing to explore the benefits of content automation tools and software and here are just a few for consideration:

Content calendars – effective content starts with effective planning. Those that plan their content strategies, and stick to them, are more likely to see success and content calendars can help you to not only create a workable plan but help you share that plan within your team. Throw your antiquated spreadsheet out of the window and benefit from automated reminders and shared real-time access to help keep everyone up to date and on track.

Content generation – why spend time thinking about content topics when tools can do it for you?  You know your audience best, but if you really are struggling for ideas then a content generation tool could be just what you’re looking for. You basically type in the word of a subject you want to write about and it delivers a list of ideas around that subject.

Content Distribution – you’ve spent ages crafting your content, the last thing you want is to spend ages distributing it.  Thankfully there are tools that can do this for you and will also notify you when your content has been posted and where. The Content Marketing Forum has compiled Content Marketing Tools: The Ultimate List, which contains a section on distribution tools, as well as some excellent tools to help you initiate and nurture influencer relationships.  In fact the entire list is worth a look through.

Content performance analysis tools – If you don’t monitor the performance of your content how do you know what’s working? This is one of the key areas that will save you time in the long run as through monitoring performance you will be able to streamline the content you produce. Overtime you will be generating highly targeted content that has a greater chance of success instead of randomly throwing content into the ether and hoping it’ll work.

Content cataloguing – this is a fabulous way of keeping tabs on all your created content so that you can easily draw on it again in the future. If you’re looking to generate large volumes of content, especially across multiple channels, then cataloguing your content is highly recommended. These tools also provide an additional benefit by marrying up your catalogue with your performance tools to provide instant insights as to what pieces are generating the best responses and which formats are working efficiently for you. This helps to create an informed strategy for future content allowing you to invest time and energy into formulas you know have succeeded in the past.

But there are differing views as to the extent that automation can assist.  For instance, some articles suggest that if a piece of content is written with enough thought and intelligence, sections of it can then simply be cut and paste and repositioned for other channels, allowing you to draw on the same content again and again.  In theory this makes absolute sense, and content repositioning is something I would expect you to be doing anyway.  It’s such an efficient use of resources. My problem though is not with repositioning, but with the cutting and pasting.  Unless you’re an absolute genius I’m uncertain how effective this would be without altering or reworking it in some way to make it tailored to the particular channel in question.

So, back to the original question:  Is automation the future of content marketing? Yes, without a doubt. Will we ever see full automation within content marketing? I personally don’t think that automation should or will ever replace human-led strategy and creativity, if it’s quality content that is being sought – that is content that engages consumers and drives results.  However, what it can do when used properly is help free up the resources needed to generate brilliantly crafted content that is designed for and delivered to the right target market at the right time. And I think that’s the key.