Setting Up Simple A/B Testing With Google Analytics Experiments and WordPress

Daniel Lee

October 1, 2016 #a/b testing #conversions #cro #google analytics

If you’re anything like me, you obsess over driving more traffic to our websites, which makes complete sense. I mean, what’s the point of spending time and money on your site if nobody sees it?

But what about once people have actually reached your site? Are you giving enough thought to what visitors actually do on-site other than having a contact button or other call-to-action (CTA).

What you should be doing is CRO. Andtesting with Google Experiments, which is what we’ll be walking through in this article.

CRO, or conversion rate optimization, is exactly that, optimizing for increased conversions. What is a conversion? A conversion can be any action that you desire a visitor take on-site. For example, a conversion could be a visitor registering for an account, purchasing a product or signing up for an email newsletter. It could also simply be sharing an article on Facebook or watching an embedded YouTube video.

Carrying out CRO generally involves a number of stages:

Discovery: Gathering relevant data and creating hypotheses Testing: Design and implementation of tests, such as A/B or multivariate testing Review: Analysis of the data gathered during testing

CRO is often a cyclical process. Once the review stage has been completed the process begins again, now taking advantage of the data gathered during the previous round of testing and analysis.


Setting Up Simple A/B Testing With Google Analytics Experiments and WordPress
An example of a Google Experiments report. Choosing What to Test

Once you have decided you want to optimize your website’s conversion rate, the challenge is then deciding what it is you actually want to test. This is obviously specific to eachsite, but it will be determined by the purpose of the WordPress website and any data gathered during the research stage of the CRO process.

For example, imagine you have an eCommerce site selling shoes and you’re running a promotion where visitors get a free hat. You expected this to boost conversions but instead your analytics show no increase in sales at all.

Upon reviewing your product pages, you can see that the banner for the free hat promotion is actually below the fold. Based off of this, you decide you want to test moving the free promotion banner above the fold, which requires a slight redesign of your product pages.

As you can see, what you want to test can be very specific to your website, your target market, and your product/service.

When choosing what to test, it’s often a good idea to test one element of the page. When only changing a single element, it is easier to conclude that it is that one variation that is having an impact. For example, if you decide to change the layout of the page, the main image, the copy, the button colour and button text, then how can you know which element variations specifically had a positive effect on conversions?

It’s also worth noting, that you should ideally test pages that have a reasonable amount of traffic. This is so that you can get results that are statistically significant within a reasonable time frame.

Tools You Can Use for Testing

There are a number of paid solutions on the market. These range from platforms like Unbounce, which seem to be aimed at smaller businesses, to enterprise level solutions such as Optimizely.

These tools offer some great features, particularly in terms of landing page creation. However, what if you don’t have the budget for these tools? Perhaps your setup is simple and your don’t want to use complicated tools. Well, we can easily use Google Analytics Experiments to A/B test your WordPress website.

Google Analytics Experiments

Content Experiments is a framework provided by Google Analytics for testing variations of a webpage or app. You can run experiment in two distinct ways:

Experiments run without redirects (client-side only) Experiments run with redirects (server-side)

The original Content Experiments javascript snippet ran experiments by redirecting some visitors to the alternate version of the page being tested. Whilst this was very simple to implement, in some cases, this redirect had a negative impact on user experience. This prompted Google Analytics to create a version that doesn’t require any redirects. This is the type of experiment that we will be setting up on our WordPress site today.

How to Setup Google Analytics Experiments

Once you’ve decided what you want to test, it’s time to set up the experiment. In this example, we’re going to test changing the main heading of a webpage. We’ll assume it is a site selling shoes and our page is about a new shoe being released.

Defining the Experiment

So, we know we want to test the heading, but what variations do we want to use. If our original heading is “Buy Our New Super Shoe,” we need to come up with a few variants to test. Let’s use these for our example:

Our New Super Shoe Now Available To Order The New Super Shoe Only 49.99 The Super Comfy Super Shoe

How are we measuring the success of our experiment? Let’s test how many people click on an “add to cart” button.

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Setting Up Simple A/B Testing With Google Analytics Experiments and WordPress
Setting Up the Experiment in Google Analytics

Now we have decided what we want to test, let’s configure our experiment in Google Analytics. For this, obviously you will need a Google Analytics account setup for the website you want to run the experiment on. If you don’t have this already, you can read how to setup Google Analytics here .

Choose an Experiment Objective Go into the account and view for the website you want to run the experiment on Click on the Reporting tab

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