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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Internet Marketing - Always Be Testing

No Internet marketing veteran worth his or her salt is oblivious to the value of testing and tracking. But if you're new to the Internet marketing world, start off on the right foot. There are lots of great free services online that will help you.

But let's define some of the terms involved in tracking and testing before we go any further. Traffic should be your first concern, and there's a difference in the kinds of traffic you're going to receive. The term "visitors" applies to anyone who comes to your site, whether or not they've been there before. "Unique visitors" are not how many hits your page gets, but how many different sets of eyeballs are seeing it for the first time. The metric that determines whether people come and go or come and stay is the "bounce rate." This measures how many people see only the first page in comparison to the total number of visitors to your site, including those people who view more than one page. Your rate of "conversion" is the ratio of how many people took action by opting in to your list or buying your product or service in comparison with all the people who came to your site. Knowing what these terms mean will help you to decide the kind of testing you want to do and what results you'd like to achieve.

The first kind of test that you can run is the A/B split test. That means you're going to test one page against another, but only one element of the pages is going to be different. So, for example, you can have a red headline on one page and a blue headline on another. Or, you can offer a different free gifts for opting in on each page. The idea is to only change one element at a time.

Multivariate testing measures more than one element at a time, but it requires sophisticated software to do it properly. You can use Google's Website Optimizer, a free service inside any AdWords account. What makes this kind of testing so great is that you can test things much more quickly, and in the Internet marketing business, it's all about speed.

When you use Optimizer, you choose a web page that you want to use as an "experiment." Then, you choose the elements of the page that you want to test. You can test headlines, chunks of copy, bullet points, opt-in box calls to action... whatever. And yes, it requires some work because all of the copy has to be rewritten at least once, but if you want a really strong test, it should be done more than once. Nothing in Internet marketing works overnight, no matter what you've been told.

Once you have that much set up at Google, you'll need to place some code on your web page, so be sure you can do that and have access to the page. Don't use an affiliate page, for example. Optimizer will then rotate and test each element that people see when they come to your site, and it will test these elements in combinations, so that you can see which combination of elements works best together. It's a great way to track your progress, but everything you do in Internet marketing needs to be tested.

Whether you're placing a text link ad or sending an email, you should be using a tracking link of some kind to see your results. How will you know if your advertising buck has been well spent, if you don't track the effectiveness of your ad? Another free tool from Google can help with this--the URL Builder-- and it comes with any Google Analytics account. Use Analytics, too, which gives you detailed information on who's coming to your site, where they come from, and what they're looking at and clicking on, along with some other really cool and interesting stuff.

The whole thing is that if your Internet marketing business isn't working out so well, or if it's working but not at the level you want it to be working, testing and tracking can mean the difference between success and failure. Take advantage of the free tools that are available, and crank your business up to the next level.

Author: Tellman H. Knudson

Everything you need to succeed with internet marketing.

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