To slide or not to slide, that is the question we have all faced when considering home page design elements.
Before you jump and dump your slider, you need to test it out on your own site. This tutorial will explain how you can set up a Google Analytics experiment on your Genesis WordPress site to test if that slider is killing your conversion rate.
Setting Up Goals In Google Analytics
You can’t test conversion rates unless you have goals set up. For a service based company, the goal is usually a phone call or form submission. In this case, the primary goal is form submissions.
Analytics Tip: When setting up goals, try to determine a dollar amount for each conversion. For example, if your close rate is 10% (it takes 10 leads to make one sale) and a customer is worth $100, each new lead is worth $10. Having a hard number makes it easier to understand the monetary impact of your marketing effort.
If you have no idea how to set up goals, you can learn more here or check out the video below:
Creating an Alternate Page Version
I wanted to update my client’s site to Genesis 2.0 to take advantage of the HTML5 markup. For the current home page, I designed around the slider. Before I designed a new theme, I wanted to test to see if I should include the slider as a major design element.
To set up my test, I created an alternate version of my home page, with mostly the exact same content, just without the slider. Without the slider the form was higher up on the page. I also added a grey box around the form.
SEO Tip: Avoid duplicate content issues by using the advanced SEO settings in Yoast. Be sure to noindex the page – this tells Google not to crawl your duplicate content experiment page. OR set the canonical URL to the original page. Do not do both as I have indicated in the screen shot below. See updated recommendation from Google here.
If you want to learn more about canonical URLs listen to what my buddy, Matt Cutts has to say.
Setting Up An Experiment In Google Analytics
I know, it sounds like rocket science, but it is actually really easy. The hard part is figuring out what you want to test and creating the page in a way that wont hurt your SEO – the items covered above.
Step 1: Find The Experiments Section Within Google Analytics
Step 2: Name Experiment and Set Test Objective
Step 3: Add Your Test Pages to The Experiment
Adding The Tracking Code To Your Site
Steps 4 and 5 require a little more explanation. If you are using the Genesis Framework, every page might already have the basic Analytics tracking code (via Header and Footer Scripts). If you don’t have Google Analytics added to your site, Jason Hobbs has a great tutorial that explains it. Since most sites already have Google Analytics, I saved myself a screen shot 🙂
The other difficult part is adding in the experiment code to only the original page. In order to conditionally load the tracking script on my widgetized home page, I needed a little help. Mark, from Themedy was happy to provide assistance. He suggested that I load the script by using the Genesis Simple Hooks plugin. He even sent me the code to paste in (minus the experiment code, which Google provided) .
Step 5: Adding The Experiment Code To The Original Page Only
By adding the conditional PHP code into the wp_head hook, I was able to paste in the code into the home page. Once the tracking code and test code is in place, Google Analytics will let you know if it is set up correctly. That is how you set up your own test.
Optional: Using PPC To Accelerate Testing
The basic experiment settings defaults to a two week test. You should be able to get enough visitors during that time. Whenever I run tests, I like to accelerate the testing by cranking up the AdWords budget and pointing more ads to the original test page. This will give me more visits in a shorter amount of time.
Don’t do this unless you have a well-optimized campaign, with a strong keyword/negative keyword list, otherwise you will waste a lot of money and blame Google. If you want to read more about negative keywords and landing pages, see my post on leads.com
PPC Tip: Improve your ad conversion rate by using the same call-to-action on both the ad and landing page. For my client, I am using “Get a Fast Quote” on both.
So… Should You Get Rid Of Your Slider
My test is still in progress, but you can see that the slider-less version of the page is out performing my original page by 75%. I will be getting rid of that slider, when I redesign the site.
Evidently, people looking for maid service don’t really care for pictures or sliders. They just want to fill out a form and get a quote.
What do your users want to do? Before you break out Photoshop and your favorite CSS editor for a complete redesign, test your concepts to make sure your effort will bring in the most possible business.