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The KPIs Every Ecommerce Marketer Must Measure for Growth

graph ecommerce kpis

Good marketers are obsessed with numbers. They look at them every morning and end their day by checking them “one last time.” According to AdAge, 93% of CMOs are under more pressure to deliver a better ROI. The problem is, they can’t do that if they don’t understand performance at all stages of the marketing funnel. In this article, I’m going to outline key KPIs you must measure to help improve your ecommerce marketing. From awareness to retention, you’ll learn the metrics to watch daily and how to improve them. 1. Brand Name Search Brand awareness often gets a bad…

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How To Transform Your eCommerce Business With 11 Simple Tips

transform your ecommerce business

Online store owners swim in a sea of fierce competition dominated by Amazon and Best Buy, among others. You can’t always be number one. But with a strong desire and the right tools, you can become a leader in your niche. One of the best ways to get to the top is with a powerful content marketing strategy that blows the opposition out of the water. So, what are the secrets of creating and implementing an unsurpassed content marketing strategy that delivers the results you’re looking for? That’s what I’m about to reveal. Why Should You Prioritize Content Marketing Above…

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Google AdWords Launches Greater Visibility Into Quality Score Components (And What This Means For You)

A recent update to Google AdWords is changing the way performance marketers understand their landing pages’ Quality Scores. Image via Shutterstock.

While Quality Score is a critical factor in your ad performance, it’s always been a bit of a mystery wrapped in an enigma. Marketers have never been able to natively view changes to Quality Score components in AdWords directly. That is — even though expected click through rate, ad relevance and landing page experience scores are the elements contributing to your Quality Score, you haven’t been able to see these individual scores at scale (or for given timeframes) within your AdWords account, or export them into Excel.

Which is why, up until now, some especially savvy marketers have had to improvise workarounds, using third-party scripts to take daily snapshots of Quality Score to have some semblance of historical record — and a better-informed idea as to changes in performance.

Fortunately, an AdWords reporting improvement has brought new visibility into Quality Score components that could help you diagnose some real wins with your ads and corresponding landing pages.

What’s different now?

As you may have already noticed, there are now seven new columns added to your menu of Quality Score metrics including three optional status columns:

  • Expected CTR
  • Ad Relevance and
  • Landing Page Experience

And four revealing historical keyword quality:

  • Quality Score (hist.)
  • Landing Page Experience (hist.)
  • Ad Relevance (hist.)
  • Expected Click Through Rate (hist.)
what's new
Image courtesy of Google’s Inside AdWords blog

This is not new data per se (it’s been around in a different, less accessible form), but as of this month you can now see everything in one spot and understand when certain changes to Quality Score have occurred.

So how can you take advantage?

There are two main ways you can use this AdWords improvement to your advantage as a performance marketer:

1. Now you can see whether your landing page changes are positively influencing Quality Score

Now, after you make changes to a landing page — you can use AdWords’ newest reporting improvement to see if you have affected the landing page experience portion of your Quality Score over time.

This gives you a chance to prove certain things are true about the performance of your landing pages, whereas before you may have had to use gut instinct about whether a given change to a landing page was affecting overall Quality Score (or whether it was a change to the ad, for example).

As Blaize Bolton, Team Strategist at Performance Marketing Agency Thrive Digital told me:

As agency marketers, we don’t like to assume things based on the nature of our jobs. We can now pinpoint changes to Quality Score to a certain day, which is actual proof of improvement. To show this to a client is a big deal.

Overall, if your CPC drops, now you can better understand whether it may be because of changes made to a landing page.

2. You can identify which keywords can benefit most from an updated landing page

Prior to this AdWords update, ad relevancy, expected click through rate and landing page relevancy data existed, but you had to mouse over each keyword to get this data to pop up on a keyword-by-keyword basis. Because you couldn’t analyze the data at scale, you couldn’t prioritize your biggest opportunities for improvement.

Hovering over individual keywords
Image courtesy of Brad Geddes and Search Engine Land

However, now that you can export this data historically (for dates later than January 22, 2016), you can do a deep dive into your campaigns and identify where a better, more relevant landing page could really help.

You can now pull every keyword in your AdWords account — broken out by campaign — and identify any underperforming landing pages.

An Excel Quality Score Deep Dive
Now, an Excel deep dive into your AdWords campaigns can help you reveal landing page weaknesses.

Specifically, here’s what Thrive Digital’s Managing Director Ross McGowan recommends:

You can break down which of your landing pages are above average, or those that require tweaking. For example, you might index your campaigns by the status AdWords provides, assigning anything “Above Average” as 3, “Average” as 2 and “Below Average” as 1. You can then find a weighted average for each campaign or ad group and make a call on what to focus on from there.

What should you do when you notice a low landing page experience score?

As Google states, landing page experience score is an indication of how useful the search engine believes your landing page is to those who click on your ad. They recommend to, “make sure your landing page is clear and useful… and that it is related to your keyword and what customers are searching for.”

In short, it’s very important that your landing pages are highly relevant to your ad. Sending traffic to generic pages on your website may not cut it. Moreover, once you are noticing low landing page engagement scores, it’s time to try optimizing these pages with some quick wins.

In the words of Thrive’s Ross McGowan:

Figure out what a user wants, and do everything you can to tailor the on-page experience to them. Whether that be [using] Dynamic Text Replacement, A/B testing elements to get the best user experience, or spending less time on technical issues and more on writing great content.

Finally, for more on AdWords’ latest improvements, AdAlysis founder Brad Geddes has written a great article on Search Engine Land. His company had enough data on hand to attempt a reverse-engineer of the formula for Quality Score to get a sense of how changes to one of the QS components would impact overall score. His recommendation is much the same as Ross’, in that, if a landing page’s score is particularly low, your best bet is to focus on increasing user’s interaction with the page.

Want to optimize your landing pages?

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Google AdWords Launches Greater Visibility Into Quality Score Components (And What This Means For You)

Official Feature Release: Crazy Egg Recordings

Crazy Egg Recordings

Today we are releasing our newest feature – Recordings. And as the name suggests, Crazy Egg users can now view video recordings of their website visitors’ sessions. Just to be clear, Recordings doesn’t record visitors through their computer cameras :). We record their screen activity as they navigate and use your website. Here’s an example: We’ve been very excited about this release. Many of our customers have been asking for this functionality, and it was our pleasure to build it for them! We really wanted to make sure we built a visitor recording feature that serves our customer base in…

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How To Conduct Competitor Research For Better Conversion Optimization Results

Note: This is a guest article written by Shane Barker, a renowned digital marketing consultant. Any and all opinions expressed in the post are Shane’s.


You want to increase your conversion rate. And you’ve implemented several CRO, or conversion rate optimization, strategies to help you do so. But have you considered researching about your competitors?

Understanding competition is crucial for the success of your business in every aspect. It will help you determine what you’re doing wrong, and what you can do better. It will also help you identify and capitalize on the weaknesses of your competitors.

In this post, you’ll learn the basics of conducting competitor research to enhance your CRO efforts.

#1: Identify Your Top Competitors

Before beginning your research, you need to know whom to research. Who are your biggest competitors? The simplest definition would be businesses where your target customers can get the same kind of services or products you offer.

Include both direct and indirect competitors.

  • Direct competitors are businesses that sell the same products or services as you.
  • Indirect competitors are those who sell products or services that fulfil the same need.

For example, Burger King and McDonald’s would be considered direct competitors because they have similar product offerings, that is, burgers. But Pizza Hut or Domino’s would be an indirect competitor of both Burger King and McDonald’s. Although they’re both fast food joints, Pizza Hut and Domino’s specialize in pizzas while the other two specialize in burgers.

Here are some of the ways you can identify your top competitors to conduct competitor research:

Google Search for Relevant Keywords

Make a list of keywords relevant to your business, and conduct a Google search using those keywords. The businesses that show up on the first page of your search results are your top competitors. List them for further research.

Let’s say you’re a wedding planner based in Sacramento. You can conduct a Google search using keywords like, “wedding planning in Sacramento,” “wedding planner in Sacramento,” “wedding planner Sacramento,” and so on.

Your top competitors in this case are the businesses that show up in the local pack and whose ads are displayed on the top of the page.

image8
You can find more competitors on the actual websites that show up in your search results. For the above example, if there are any sites that list wedding planners in the Sacramento area, you would need to check out those as well.

image1

Use SimilarWeb

SimilarWeb is a highly effective tool for identifying your competitors and determining their performance. All you need to do is type your website URL in the search bar and then click Start.

image5
This step generates an overview of your site’s ranking and traffic, as shown in the screenshot below. As the goal here is to identify competitors, you need to click the option that says, “Similar Sites,” as shown on the left sidebar.

image2
You will then get a list of some of the websites similar to yours, which you can sort based on the extent of similarity or ranking. Add them to your list so that you have a clear idea about who your competitors are.

Additionally, click each of these results to check where the websites stand in terms of ranking, traffic, and so on. This performance analysis can be used as part of the third step in this guide.

image11

#2: Try Out Your Competition

Another important step in competitor research is to experience their services or products first-hand.

When dealing with ecommerce stores, try ordering from them. Analyze every aspect of the purchase process to identify what they’re doing right and what mistakes they’re making.

Maybe they’ve implemented a chatbot to help their shoppers find what they’re looking for quickly and easily. To improve your CRO, consider adding a chatbot to your website as well.

You should also analyze the user experience (UX) of your competitors’ websites. Ensuring a good user experience is an essential part of successful CRO.

To analyze the UX of your competitors, ask yourself questions such as:

  • How easy is it for you to navigate your competitor’s website?
  • Are there too many distractions on any of their webpages?
  • Are you having a tough time reading the copy because of a bad font choice?
  • Is the process of completing a purchase easy?

Additionally, analyze their post-purchase service to see how well they respond to customer complaints. These questions can help you understand more about your competition. Analyze their services to determine what they’re doing well, what you can improve on, and what mistakes you should avoid.

In the case of a brick-and-mortar shop, try visiting the establishment to experience its service. Make a note of the store’s ambiance, how friendly the staff is, how well they present their products, and so on.

You can also ask the opinions of friends and family or your customers who have visited the place.

#3: Analyze Competitor Performance and Strategy

This is one of the most important steps in competitor research. When you think of analyzing their performance and strategy, several aspects may come to mind. Not sure what exactly to prioritize, or where to start?

Analyze the following to conduct your competitor research more efficiently:

Traffic and Ranking

One of the key factors to consider when analyzing the performance of your competitors is their ranking. Find out how they rank for specific keywords, and compare their performance against your own.

For competitor performance analysis, you can use SEMrush, which you can access for free. You also have the option to upgrade to one of their paid plans, which allow for more results and reports per day.

In the screenshot below, the tool gives you a report on the website’s paid and organic search traffic. Using this tool, you can compare the amount of branded traffic and non-branded traffic and get some insight into the PPC campaigns of your competitors.

image7

SEMrush can help you find out what your competitors are doing right so that you can use those opportunities to improve your CRO efforts.

The tool will also give you a list of keywords for which each website is ranked, along with the position and search volume for each keyword.

image6
SpyFu is another useful tool for conducting competitor research. The tool helps you find your competitors on typing your website URL in the search bar.

The most useful aspect of this tool is that it identifies the top organic and paid keywords used by your competitors. It also helps you to identify the keywords you share with your competitors.

image4

Link Profiles

Link profiles is another important aspect to help you conduct competitor research. According to Moz, link profiles are among the top search ranking factors.

A good link profile will improve your website ranking, which will improve its visibility. The more visible your website is, the better your chances are of improving traffic. Increased traffic often leads to higher conversions.

This means that you need to conduct competitor research to find out where they stand in terms of backlinks. Find out which websites are linking to them and how many backlinks they currently have. This will help you determine what backlinking goals you should set and which websites you should target through your backlinking efforts.

You can use basic tools such as Backlink Checker from Small SEO Tools to check which pages are linking to your competitors. For more detailed reports, you can use the two tools mentioned earlier, SEMrush and SpyFu.

SpyFu gives you a list of pages linking to your competitors. In addition, it shows the number of organic clicks and domain strength of the websites linking to your competitors.

image3
SEMrush is even more comprehensive. It gives you a report on the number of backlinks your competitor has and the number of domains linking to these backlinks.

image10

Also, you can use SEMrush to view the top anchor texts being used to link to your competitors.

image9

Landing Page Strategy

In addition to your competitors’ performance, you need to determine their ability to impress their audience. This means that you need to analyze their landing page strategy and identify their strengths and weaknesses.

Ask yourself:

  • How strong is the headline?
  • Is the value proposition clear?
  • Is the landing page design aesthetically pleasing?
  • Are there any visuals on the page?

These are just some of the questions you need to ask when analyzing the landing pages of your competitors.

Pricing Strategy

When you conduct competitor research, it’s also important to analyze their pricing strategy. Their rates maybe are more competitive and, therefore, your target customers are choosing them over you.

What can you do to present your rates in a more appealing manner to enhance your CRO efforts?

  • Are your competitors offering multiple pricing options?
  • Are there any guarantees that make their offers more trustworthy?
  • Do they compare various pricing options?
  • What are the biggest strengths and weaknesses of their pricing strategies?

Next Steps

Now you know more about how to conduct competitor research to improve your conversions rate optimization strategy. Next, you need to make a list of the top strengths and weaknesses of each competitor based on the data you have collected.

For example, one competitor’s top strengths may be an excellent landing page design and a good backlinking strategy. But the same competitor could be lagging in terms of organic search ranking and customer service as well.

From this list, you can identify opportunities to improve your CRO efforts. Your competitor research can also provide you with insights into the mistakes you should avoid and ways to improve your service so that it stands out from your competitors.

Got any questions about the tips provided here? Feel free to ask them or to share your ideas in the comments below.

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How To Conduct Competitor Research For Better Conversion Optimization Results

Structured Approach To Testing Increased This Insurance Provider’s Conversions By 30%

CORGI HomePlan provides boiler and home cover insurance in Great Britain. It offers various insurance policies and an annual boiler service. Its main value proposition is that it promises “peace of mind” to customers. It guarantees that if anything goes wrong, it’ll be fixed quickly and won’t cost anything extra over the monthly payments.

Problem

CORGI’s core selling points were not being communicated clearly throughout the website. Insurance is a hyper-competitive industry and most customers compare other providers before taking a decision. After analyzing its data, CORGI saw that there was an opportunity to improve conversions and reduce drop-offs at major points throughout the user journey. To help solve that problem, CORGI hired Worship Digital, a conversion optimization agency.

Observations

Lee Preston, a conversion optimization consultant at Worship Digital, analyzed CORGI’s existing Google Analytics data, conducted user testing and heuristic analysis, and used VWO to run surveys and scrollmaps. After conducting qualitative and quantitative analysis, Lee found that:

  • Users were skeptical of CORGI’s competition, believing they were not transparent enough. Part of CORGI’s value proposition is that it doesn’t have any hidden fees so conveying this to users could help convince them to buy.
  • On analyzing the scrollmap results, it was found that only around a third of mobile users scrolled down enough to see the value proposition at the bottom of the product pages.
  • They ran surveys for users and asked, “Did you look elsewhere before visiting this site? (If so, where?)” More than 70% of respondents had looked elsewhere.
  • They ran another survey and asked users what they care about most; 18% of users said “fast service” while another 12% said “reliability”.

This is how CORGI’s home page originally looked:

corgi_original

Hypothesis

After compiling all these observations, Lee and his team distilled it down to one hypothesis:

CORGI’s core features were not being communicated properly. Displaying these more clearly on the home page, throughout the comparison journey, and the checkout could encourage more users to sign up rather than opting for a competitor.

Lee adds, “Throughout our user research with CORGI, we found that visitors weren’t fully exposed to the key selling points of the service. This information was available on different pages on the site, but was not present on the pages comprising the main conversion journey.”

Test

Worship Digital first decided to put this hypothesis to test on the home page.

“We hypothesized that adding a USP bar below the header would mean 100% of visitors would be exposed to these anxiety-reducing features, therefore, improving motivation and increasing the user conversion rate,” Lee said.

This is how the variation looked.

corgi_variation

Results

The variation performed better than the control across all devices and majority of user types. The variation increased the conversions by 30.9%.

“We were very happy that this A/B test validated our research-driven hypothesis. We loved how we didn’t have to buy some other tool for running heatmaps and scrollmaps for our visitor behavior experiment,” Lee added.

Next Steps

Conversion optimization is a continuous process at CORGI. Lee has been constantly running new experiments and gathering deep understanding about the insurance provider’s visitors. For the next phase of testing, he plans to:

  • Improve the usability of the product comparing feature.
  • Identify and fix leaks during the checkout process.
  • Make complex product pages easier to digest.

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Structured Approach To Testing Increased This Insurance Provider’s Conversions By 30%

Eating Our Own Dogfood – How To Optimize For Revenue As A SaaS Business

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that we at VWO are very passionate about experimentation.

Not only have we built a product around A/B testing and conversion optimization, but we are always looking for ways to run experiments on our website.

Recently, we got our entire team to actively research and contribute ideas for optimization on our website and ran multiple tests. This post is a narrative of what we did after.

Who Is This Post for?

This post will help SaaS growth-hackers, marketers, and optimization experts to predict the business value from a test.

The aim of this post is to not only share the tests we ran on our website, but also introduce a revenue-based framework that predicts the business impact of an A/B test and prioritizing on the basis of it.

Revenue-Based Optimization

Need for a Model

After we propelled our team to suggest ideas for testing, we had more than 30 hypotheses looking at us, but no distinct way of knowing which of these to take up first. Of course, there is a range of prioritizing frameworks available, but we particularly wanted to look at the ones that would directly impact our revenue.

This framework helped us project the potential impact on the revenue from each test. Here’s what we did:

Step 1

We decided to identify high-impact pages and winnow the pages that were not as important for our business, that is, pages where no goal conversions take place. We looked at Google Analytics for pages with the:

  • Highest Amount of Traffic
    (We used “New Users” to nullify visits by existing customers.)
  • Highest Number of Goal Conversions
    (Goal conversion, which contributes to your overall business goal, is the main goal for your website. In our case, this meant all qualified lead-generating forms. A free trial or request a demo qualifies a visitor as a lead with a genuine interest in our product; or, as the industry popularly refers to it, a Marketing Qualified Lead.)

This gave us a list of pages which were high-value in terms of, either traffic generation or last touch before conversions.

We identified the following key pages:

  • Free-trial page
  • Request-a-demo page
  • Homepage
  • Pricing page
  • Features page
  • Blog pages (All)
  • Contact-us page

Step 2

Our main objective was to project an estimated increase in the revenue due to a particular test. If your test increases the conversion rate by say 20%, what would this mean for your business and, in turn, the revenue?

This is how our marketing funnel looked like:

VWO Marketing Funnel

Note: You should use data from the recent 3–6 months, and the average (mean) of each step. This is to accurately reflect what to expect from your testing and be relevant to your business.

For each of the “Key Pages” we identified in the first step, we also dug out the corresponding numbers at each funnel stage. We’ve explained each stage of the funnel and how it is calculated:

a) Key Page Traffic: The total number of pageviews per Key Page (new users in our case). You can find the data in Google Analytics.

b) Total Conversions: The total number of leads generated from each particular page. If there is an additional qualification your company follows, source this data from your preferred CRM or Marketing Automation software. For example, at VWO, we use Clearbit to qualify our leads in Salesforce.

c) Opportunities: The total number of opportunities generated for your sales team. This data will be available in your CRM; make sure to count qualified opportunities only.

d) Customers:  The total number of customers created in a month.

e) MRR (New): Or monthly recurring revenue, means revenue booked on a monthly basis; you can use this to estimate annual recurring revenue, or ARR, as well.

Step 3

Now that we had all the numbers needed in our arsenal, I decided to calculate some more internal benchmarks. This gave us the performance of our marketing and/or sales funnel.

  1. We computed the conversion rate of a particular page, using the following formula:
    Existing conversion rate = (Total Conversions Key Page Traffic); this is represented as %
  2. The conversion of your leads into opportunities:
    (Opportunities ÷ Total conversions) × 100, represented as %
  3.  The conversion rate of opportunities into customers:
    (Customers ÷ Opportunities) × 100, represented as %
  4.  The average revenue per user or ARPU:
    Total MRR  ÷ Total number of paying customers

Now all you have to do is to impute these numbers in this template.
Revenue-based Testing Model
The model uses all of that data and projects how much revenue increase or decrease you can estimate based on your test results. This estimate can give you a good idea of where to begin or prioritize your testing.

Step 4 (Optional)

This is where it may get tricky. At VWO, we sell both Enterprise plans and Standard plans. So to be fair, we must estimate each cohort with separate data and individual conversion rates.

For example, Opportunity creation % for an Enterprise plan may be lower, but a Standard plan is easier to convert. You may want to decide what type of plan do you want to focus on.

We, for instance, used website traffic and Alexa rank as the benchmark for lead qualification. We attributed more value to the leads that came in through key pages and prioritized them.

This led us to the next step, which is the qualification rate of the said lead of high value. This rate may be in the range 30–50%, depending on your definition.

It was interesting to note that each page had a different qualification rate. For example, we get better quality leads from our Request a demo page than we do from our free trial or blog post page.

Tests Conducted:

After we had the model in place, we played around with the increase or decrease in our conversion rates. This was to identify what would be our best optimization opportunities?

The free trial pages and the home page were among the high-priority pages, in terms of the impact of revenue. (Unfortunately, I can’t share the exact numbers with you.) We first looked at the hypotheses on the free trial page:

Test 1 – Free Trial Page

Our hypothesis was “Illustrating VWO features and social proof on the free trial page will compel users to sign up for the free trial.”

Here is a screenshot of what it looks like in VWO.
hypothesis-free-trial

Bonus tip: VWO has recently launched a new capability called PLAN that lets you manage and prioritize your testing hypotheses. To learn more about this capability, visit the VWO evolution page.

This is what the control looked like:

Free Trial Control

Our heatmap data also showed a lot of users clicking the features page after accessing the free trial page.

Screenshot of heatmap data:

Heatmap Screenshot for test

We created a variation which included the features we offer to solve this issue. Here’s a screenshot of the same.

This is our current free trial page:

Free Trial Page(New)(Variation)

We ran the test for over 2 months. The result was an increase of 6% in our conversion rate, which led to increased revenues.

Test 2 – Request a Demo CTA (A/B Test)

The main CTA on the homepage has been the free trial CTA. The headline on the homepage was “A/B Testing Software for Marketers.”

The hypothesis for the test was “We will get more qualified leads through a request a demo CTA on the homepage.”

This is what the control looked like:

Homepage Control

We came up with a more targeted copy and changed the existing CTA to Request A Demo. Here is what the variation looked like:

Homepage variation

We also wanted to change our positioning due to our foray into Conversion Optimization. The results from this test were that our variation beat the control and had more than 31% improvement in the conversion rate.

Based on the first example, we have already implemented the new free-trial page as our main free-trial page now. Based on the second test, we updated our current home page.

All in all, this model helped us correctly predict the best optimization opportunities, make our testing better, and more strategically aligned to business goals.

Let me know your experience with this model and how you go about testing.

Would love to hear your feedback on this!

Free-trial CTA

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Eating Our Own Dogfood – How To Optimize For Revenue As A SaaS Business

How to do server-side testing for single page app optimization

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Gettin’ technical.

We talk a lot about marketing strategy on this blog. But today, we are getting technical.

In this post, I team up with WiderFunnel front-end developer, Thomas Davis, to cover the basics of server-side testing from a web development perspective.

The alternative to server-side testing is client-side testing, which has arguably been the dominant testing method for many marketing teams, due to ease and speed.

But modern web applications are becoming more dynamic and technically complex. And testing within these applications is becoming more technically complex.

Server-side testing is a solution to this increased complexity. It also allows you to test much deeper. Rather than being limited to testing images or buttons on your website, you can test algorithms, architectures, and re-brands.

Simply put: If you want to test on an application, you should consider server-side testing.

Let’s dig in!

Note: Server-side testing is a tactic that is linked to single page applications (SPAs). Throughout this post, I will refer to web pages and web content within the context of a SPA. Applications such as Facebook, Airbnb, Slack, BBC, CodeAcademy, eBay, and Instagram are SPAs.


Defining server-side and client-side rendering

In web development terms, “server-side” refers to “occurring on the server side of a client-server system.”

The client refers to the browser, and client-side rendering occurs when:

  1. A user requests a web page,
  2. The server finds the page and sends it to the user’s browser,
  3. The page is rendered on the user’s browser, and any scripts run during or after the page is displayed.
Static app server
A basic representation of server-client communication.

The server is where the web page and other content live. With server-side rendering, the requested web page is sent to the user’s browser in final form:

  1. A user requests a web page,
  2. The server interprets the script in the page, and creates or changes the page content to suit the situation
  3. The page is sent to the user in final form and then cannot be changed using server-side scripting.

To talk about server-side rendering, we also have to talk a little bit about JavaScript. JavaScript is a scripting language that adds functionality to web pages, such as a drop-down menu or an image carousel.

Traditionally, JavaScript has been executed on the client side, within the user’s browser. However, with the emergence of Node.js, JavaScript can be run on the server side. All JavaScript executing on the server is running through Node.js.

*Node.js is an open-source, cross-platform JavaScript runtime environment, used to execute JavaScript code server-side. It uses the Chrome V8 JavaScript engine.

In laymen’s (ish) terms:

When you visit a SPA web application, the content you are seeing is either being rendered in your browser (client-side), or on the server (server-side).

If the content is rendered client-side, JavaScript builds the application HTML content within the browser, and requests any missing data from the server to fill in the blanks.

Basically, the page is incomplete upon arrival, and is completed within the browser.

If the content is being rendered server-side, your browser receives the application HTML, pre-built by the server. It doesn’t have to fill in any blanks.

Why do SPAs use server-side rendering?

There are benefits to both client-side rendering and server-side rendering, but render performance and page load time are two huge pro’s for the server side.

(A 1 second delay in page load time can result in a 7% reduction in conversions, according to Kissmetrics.)

Server-side rendering also enables search engine crawlers to find web content, improving SEO; and social crawlers (like the crawlers used by Facebook) do not evaluate JavaScript, making server-side rendering beneficial for social searching.

With client-side rendering, the user’s browser must download all of the application JavaScript, and wait for a response from the server with all of the application data. Then, it has to build the application, and finally, show the complete HTML content to the user.

All of which to say, with a complex application, client-side rendering can lead to sloooow initial load times. And, because client-side rendering relies on each individual user’s browser, the developer only has so much control over load time.

Which explains why some developers are choosing to render their SPAs on the server side.

But, server-side rendering can disrupt your testing efforts, if you are using a framework like Angular or React.js. (And the majority of SPAs use these frameworks).

The disruption occurs because the version of your application that exists on the server becomes out of sync with the changes being made by your test scripts on the browser.

NOTE: If your web application uses Angular, React, or a similar framework, you may have already run into client-side testing obstacles. For more on how to overcome these obstacles, and successfully test on AngularJS apps, read this blog post.


Testing on the server side vs. the client side

Client-side testing involves making changes (the variation) within the browser by injecting Javascript after the original page has already loaded.

The original page loads, the content is hidden, the necessary elements are changed in the background, and the ‘new’ version is shown to the user post-change. (Because the page is hidden while these changes are being made, the user is none-the-wiser.)

As I mentioned earlier, the advantages of client-side testing are ease and speed. With a client-side testing tool like VWO, a marketer can set up and execute a simple test using a WYSIWYG editor without involving a developer.

But for complex applications, client-side testing may not be the best option: Layering more JavaScript on top of an already-bulky application means even slower load time, and an even more cumbersome user experience.

A Quick Hack

There is a workaround if you are determined to do client-side testing on a SPA application. Web developers can take advantage of features like Optimizely’s conditional activation mode to make sure that testing scripts are only executed when the application reaches a desired state.

However, this can be difficult as developers will have to take many variables into account, like location changes performed by the $routeProvider, or triggering interaction based goals.

To avoid flicker, you may need to hide content until the front-end application has initialized in the browser, voiding the performance benefits of using server-side rendering in the first place.

WiderFunnel - client side testing activation mode
Activation Mode waits until the framework has loaded before executing your test.



When you do server-side testing, there are no modifications being made at the browser level. Rather, the parameters of the experiment variation (‘User 1 sees Variation A’) are determined at the server route level, and hooked straight into the javascript application through a service provider.

Here is an example where we are testing a pricing change:

“Ok, so, if I want to do server-side testing, do I have to involve my web development team?”

Yep.

But, this means that testing gets folded into your development team’s work flow. And, it means that it will be easier to integrate winning variations into your code base in the end.

If yours is a SPA, server-side testing may be the better choice, despite the work involved. Not only does server-side testing embed testing into your development workflow, it also broadens the scope of what you can actually test.

Rather than being limited to testing page elements, you can begin testing core components of your application’s usability like search algorithms and pricing changes.

A server-side test example!

For web developers who want to do server-side testing on a SPA, Tom has put together a basic example using Optimizely SDK. This example is an illustration, and is not functional.

In it, we are running a simple experiment that changes the color of a button. The example is built using Angular Universal and express JS. A global service provider is being used to fetch the user variation from the Optimizely SDK.

Here, we have simply hard-coded the user ID. However, Optimizely requires that each user have a unique ID. Therefore, you may want to use the user ID that already exists in your database, or store a cookie through express’ Cookie middleware.

Are you currently doing server-side testing?

Or, are you client-side testing on a SPA application? What challenges (if any) have you faced? How have you handled them? Do you have any specific questions? Let us know in the comments!

The post How to do server-side testing for single page app optimization appeared first on WiderFunnel Conversion Optimization.

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How to do server-side testing for single page app optimization

Are Your Keyword Rankings You See On Google Correct?

Google Search Results Differ

Have you ever doubted Google? When it comes to the keyword ranking accuracy, we can be skeptical about rank tracker tools we use or SEOs we hired. But when we check rankings manually, we trust our eyes and Google. But you shouldn’t be so careless. Google is clever and agile. They have a massive list of factors that affect the search results they display for you. Even if you see your website in the Number 1 position, it doesn’t mean you really are on top of the world. Your customers may see a very different Top 10. Fortunately, you can…

The post Are Your Keyword Rankings You See On Google Correct? appeared first on The Daily Egg.

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Are Your Keyword Rankings You See On Google Correct?

12 Eye-Opening Video Marketing Stats to Help Boost Your Landing Page Conversions

12 video marketing stats

Video marketing has been on the rise for more than a decade now. Consumers are getting more and more used to consuming video content wherever they go, be it on Facebook or on a product page. Which may make one think: Isn’t video content expected by now? Shouldn’t we produce a video every chance we get? However, the real question is: Will videos be a conversion ignitor or a conversion killer? Let’s find out! First, Some Tempting Stats… There are plenty of case studies and reports claiming that using a video on a landing page is a great idea for…

The post 12 Eye-Opening Video Marketing Stats to Help Boost Your Landing Page Conversions appeared first on The Daily Egg.

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12 Eye-Opening Video Marketing Stats to Help Boost Your Landing Page Conversions