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Free multivariate testing

I’ve written before about multivariate testing, an emerging technique for rigorous analysis of just what persuades customers to convert. But some companies have been stopped in the past by the cost of licensing a multivariate testing tool. Yesterday, Google Website Optimizer, a multivariate testing tool, emerged from a restricted beta test and can be used by any Google AdWords advertiser for free.

Google Website OptimizerNow, understand, the tool is free, but multivariate testing still costs you time and effort that you’d be spending on other things. You must take the time to develop multiple versions of your content and you must load up the page with some JavaScript and run and monitor the experiment. You can check out Google’s multivariate testing instructions to gauge the effort required.
The effort is worth it. At last October’s Emetrics Summit, Regis Hadiaris, the Director of Web Marketing for Quicken Loans, said that the use of multivariate testing has increased revenue 30 percent per year every year. ReallyGreatRate’s case study is also persuasive. You ought to be testing variations to improve your site anyway—multivariate testing is just a better way to do it.
Just as when Google began offering a free Web traffic metrics service, Google Analytics, some folks have questioned whether marketers should allow Google access to this highly-valuable marketing information. Andrew Goodman, in particular, has written persuasively about this “fox in the hen house” situation where a company you buy advertising with knows how much you sell and what it is about your site that sells it.
For small businesses, “free” is more important than data privacy, but larger marketers might be better off using Optimost or another licensed multivariate tool that protects the privacy of their testing data, just as they might use CoreMetrics or another fee-based analytics tool to protect traffic and conversion data.
Regardless of the data sharing issues, your company ought to be using multivariate testing to optimize your customer conversions. And if the cost of a licensed tool seemed too formidable before, now you have no excuse. Google Website Optimizer makes that free.


Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website,, most recently as the Manager of Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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