Web Analytics

Web Analytics & Testing: Personal Choices Are Wrong

So, here is my first in-depth post about digital marketing. This is where I delve into the world of digital and try to avoid writing anything foolish. But then, perhaps making mistakes and learning from them is an important part of any process. And, by pure coincidence, the importance of recognising when you’re wrong – specifically during web analytics and testing – is the subject of this very post!

 

Rethink Web Analytics

 
So, a few days ago I was just starting to learn the fundamentals of Google Analytics via Google’s Analytics Academy. Specifically, the topic covered the importance of digital measurement and analytics for successfully assessing and improving marketing efforts and web design. Anyway, this led me to a post on Occam’s Razor, a blog by Avinash Kaushik. For those who are unfamiliar, Avinash Kaushik is the author of two books on the subject of web analytics, the “Digital Marketing Evangelist” at Google, and (as far as I can tell from his presentation) a really passionate and enthusiastic guy.

 
Anyway, this particular post was titled Rethink Web Analytics: Introducing Web Analytics 2.0, and included a recorded presentation given on this subject. If you haven’t already, then go and watch the video- Avinash very helpfully outlines the different sections of the talk in the blog post, or you can watch the whole talk on Youtube. The entire talk was very insightful- if I’m honest, as someone fairly new to the concepts, it was a lot to take in all at once. However, I found one point particularly interesting….

 

Personal Choices Are Wrong

 
Yes, even if you are a brilliant digital marketer or designer, gifted in both intuition and a good eye for detail… your personal preferences might not be effective. Indeed, the entire concept of relying on someone’s personal choices – whoever that individual might be – is wrong.

 

Web Analytics A/B Testing: Bad Link vs Good Button
The Results of A/B Testing Can be Surprising

 
For those of you who want to watch this section, it starts at around 26:42, although I’ll also summarise it here. Avinash describes the importance of “idea democracy”, and how a democratic, unbiased assessment can be achieved via experimentation and testing. By experimenting with different variations of some component – design, copy, etc. – you can statistically determine which of your implementations is the most effective for a particular goal. This process is usually a fundamental part of conversion rate optimisation (CRO), and relies on testing (particularly A/B testing) to discover the optimal variation of any given element.

 

Test Your Website!

 
Avinash gives one example of a button versus a text link, but you can test nearly anything, from the size and position of a particular image to the design of an entire landing page. Importantly, the testing process means that the most effective option can be chosen based on what is actually the most effective, regardless of potentially inaccurate assumptions about the target audience and the opinions of the marketing/design/development team.

 

“The button that says ‘Try Now’ – a button – works better than a ‘Free Download’ link. I am a huge fan of text links. I hate buttons! Can you imagine that people like ‘try’ more than ‘free’? That seems dumb-ass! But they do!” – Avinash Kaushik

 
Finally, Avinash goes on to talk about the importance of the learning experience that can be gained from this process. Aside from the task itself, there is plenty to learn from unexpected discoveries through experimentation and testing, and our own firmly-held ideas can be challenged.

 
This concept really resonated with me. Perhaps I’m biased from years of actively having a scientific mindset, but I can’t help but celebrate the importance of backing up decisions with data. When Google’s own “Digital Marketing Evangelist” admits quite happily that “my own opinion was wrong”, you realise how important it is to experiment with ideas beyond your own notions of what looks good and delivers results. Although maybe don’t go too crazy.

 
To optimise your strategy, it is necessary to understand that when it comes to web analytics and testing, your personal choices are wrong. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After all, everything you produce in digital is ultimately for your audience, not you… right?

 

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