Marketing in a Down Economy with Google Website Optimizer

Bryan Connally
Internet Marketing Specialist

Most inbound marketers and business leaders these days have a similar set of questions on their mind. The majority of these questions revolve around how to most successfully market their products and services in the current economic downturn.  For marketers that use online channels to accomplish anything from ecommerce sales to lead generation, there is a powerful tool that can help not only maximize results, but also minimize both cost and time.

Google Website Optimizer: An Introduction
This tool is called Website Optimizer, and it is Google’s free website testing and optimization tool. Website Optimizer is a robust A/B and multivariate testing application that enables webmasters and marketers to increase the overall performance of their websites through the systematic testing of any element that exists in HTML code on a particular webpage. This can include calls to action, sales copy, testimonials, fonts, headlines, point of action assurances, product copy, product images, product reviews, forms, or anything else that your team thinks is worth testing.

Getting Started
The process begins by identifying and selecting the specific pages and page elements to be tested. Website Optimizer will then generate a series of code that will need to be installed before the experiment can be launched.  After launching the experiment, Google Website Optimizer will divide the total incoming traffic and direct it to various permutations of the original page based on the elements specified in the test. The results will then be recorded until a statistically superior page combination is identified. Throughout the testing process, website optimizer will also provide you with real-time reporting on the performance of each individual element, as well as the combination of elements. This allows you to see the best and worst performing pages as well as individual elements that might be hindering otherwise good pages.

Some Examples
First, in tough economic times, the loyal customers that you have known and marketed to for years have a tendency to very quickly change their buying habits. In order for marketers to effectively speak to their customers’ evolving needs, they may need to change benefit propositions, product positioning, sales copy, incentive, pricing, or more. By using website optimizer you can target each of these elements on a landing page or website and test variations against the original. Website Optimizer enables all of this in real-time, without expensive surveys or focus groups, and the results are statistically significant. By utilizing a website optimizer initiative, marketers lose literally nothing and stand to gain everything.

Second, regardless of the overall state of the economy, marketing plans that may have been in the works for months or more cannot just be scuttled at the first sign of slowdown or even a recession. The problem is that if you are undertaking a new marketing blitz or product launch during this time, success can be much more elusive. Essentially, businesses need a lot more data at a time when potential clients and customers are curtailing their expenditures and reducing their engagement with businesses. This fact drastically reduces the margin of error for your marketing initiative and demands that you gather enough data in a short enough period of time to make the kind of actionable decisions that will lead you and your company to success. The well planned deployment of Google Website Optimizer initiative provides exactly this.

Lastly, it is important to realize that Google Website Optimizer is worth using even if your business has not witnessed a general slowdown or is not planning on launching a big, new marketing push. Even if you business is steady, and your customer’s habits have remained constant, a slow economy is the perfect time to implement Google Website Optimizer. Through its use you will learn a great deal about your customers that you may not have known before or previously taken for granted. The data provided by this tool can really help companies streamline their business and cut anything that is not contributing to the overall marketing goals. It is these kinds of incremental improvements that can translate into big gains over the long term.

Remember the age- old marketing adage that we have all heard many times before; in a bad or troubled economy, the last thing a business should do is cut its marketing and advertising budgets. In fact, all things considered, marketing budgets should be increased.  As we all know, this is not always financially feasible, however, with Google Website Optimizer you can increase the effectiveness of your marketing budget without having to increase your marketing expenditure. This, in a nutshell, is what makes it perfect initiative for a down economy.

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