Visual Website Optimizer (VWO) aims to make it simple for anyone to test different variations of their website. This is a focus for many successful Internet companies, but has traditionally been difficult for most small businesses.
How It Works
Conversion rate optimization tools, such as Google Website Optimizer, have existed for a long time. The problem with most of these tools is they require some technical/design expertise in order to make work. VWO gets around that problem by including an easy to use online editor, which lets you create website variations in an intuitive way.
There is a small bit of code you ad to your website – which can be automated with a WordPress plugin if your site runs on WordPress. Then you just tell it what page you want to optimize, and it brings up the page, letting you select the section you want to change. You can create multiple variations for each section – using an editor that looks like this:
Once you’ve created the variations you want (you create one for a regular A/B test, or can create several in different areas, for a multivariate test), you tell it how much of your website traffic should be tested, and Visual Website Optimizer magically makes it all happen.
You can define a variety of goals for your test, including:
- Click on a particular link
- Visit a particular page
- Submit a form
- Engage on the page (click anything)
All these conversion options make the system very flexible and easy to setup. You can also setup multiple goals, if you are happy to have a visitor sign up for your email list or send in a quote request form, for example.
Once your test is running, VWO reports the results in real-time.
The data also includes some statistics, including the expected conversion rate range, % improvement over original, and chance to beat original.
When performing a conversion rate test, it’s important to get enough data to know that your test is valid, and not just a product of chance. VWO helps you assess this through the statistical information. The system can also automatically shut off certain variations if they have proven to be unsuccessful changes.
The inclusion of heatmaps and clickmaps as a standard feature in Visual Website Optimizer is a nice bonus. I’ve previously used Crazyegg for heatmaps, and although it has some more advanced features, it’s helpful to roll that into your split-testing service. A heatmap looks like this – with dots glowing hotter for more clicks on a particular spot on the site:
Google Analytics Integration
If you use Google Analytics, the VWO integration with this service is another helpful feature. You add a small amount of code to your Google Analytics tracking code, and visitors are automatically tagged with a custom variable in your Google Analytics reports. In your analytics account, it looks like this:
The final VWO feature I’m going to highlight is visitor segmentation. If what you’re really interested in is optimizing conversion rate for visitors from paid search, you can have the program only count and show variations to those visitors. You can segment by a variety of variables:
The largest downside to Visual Website Optimizer is the pricing. You can get a free 30-day trial, but beyond that the minimum pricing is $50/month. This is a powerful tool, but that’s a substantial price for some of the smaller companies who could really benefit from the service. It would be helpful if the trial plan (which is limited to 1,000 visitors) could be extended for ~$20/month. On the other hand, if you’re spending $1,000+ monthly on online marketing, devoting 5% of your budget to testing is almost sure to be a good decision.
There are also more expensive plans aimed at marketing agencies and larger businesses.
Split-testing is a valuable practice for any website receiving a reasonable number of visitors. It has, however, always been a challenge for companies without a dedicated IT department (and depending on the company, sometimes even for those that have one). Visual Website Optimizer does a great job of simplifying this task, removing the need for technical help to run a basic test.
I highly recommend VWO to any business with a busy website – and would suggest the free trial to anyone that would benefit from an improved website.