How to Solve the ‘What Should I Test?’ Problem
By Alex Birkett
One of the most common and mundane questions people ask about conversion optimization is “what should I test?”
Usually, this is the wrong question to begin with. Good experimentation tends to be hypothesis-driven, led by quality research and a solid reason for experimentation. Starting off with the “what should I test” question tends to lead marketers down the path of testing trivial things like CTA colors just because it’s what others are doing.
Instead, you can find opportunity areas with a relatively small amount of qualitative user research coupled with some digital analytics analysis.
This post will outline a few ways to dig into Google Analytics in particular to find areas you might want to look into improving on your site.
Since analytics is best approached by asking your own unique business questions and then seeking answers, it won’t be an extensive list of reports that help with optimization – but the ones listed below have helped me over and over in the past when looking at what to test and where to start.
Note: this article assumes a certain level of knowledge with Google Analytics. If you’ve just set up your account and haven’t created goals, events, or checked that your implementation isn’t broken, do that stuff first. The reports to follow aren’t complicated, but there are a few prerequisites. If you haven’t met those, read this post on setting up GA and getting started or take CXL’s beginner’s Google Analytics course.
How Can I Find Which Pages on My Site Need Optimization?
This is really the first question you want to answer: where do I start optimizing?
Not all landing pages are performing equally, so it’s important to prioritize based on bigger opportunities.
There are many ways to approach this, but one of the best is by using engagement metrics such as bounce rate as a proxy for performance, and comparing landing pages to the site average.
This is fairly easy to do. Just go to Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages and use the comparison feature on the right hand side of the screen. Then select Bounce Rate from the drop down menu like I showed above:
This shows you all pages, but it’s likely that you’ll want to get more granular. For instance, if you have product category pages, you can narrow down and see the Bounce Rates of only pages in that category. Just search your category indicator, e.g. “drinkware,” and you’ll see only those pages and can nail down which ones need work:
Note: you can also compare other metrics, like Goal Conversion Rate. The point is the comparison feature. Instead of guessing which pages to start optimizing, you can see which ones are over and under-performing against the site average for that particular metric.