Google Analytics in Action: A/B Testing, Bounce Rates and More
Analytics can help you determine conversion rates on individual sales pages. Many marketers complement this through the use of A/B testing. Here a marketer creates two or more versions of a sales page and tests different elements-such as the headline, the call to action or the graphics-to see which version leads to more conversions.
In the past, you could use Google Web Optimizer to manage conversion rate testing. While that service is no longer available, it's been replaced with Google Analytics Content Experiments.
One difference with this approach is that you can now test up to five versions of a page, each with a different URL. If you prefer strict A/B testing, give The Ultimate Guide to A/B Testing and The A/B Test a read.
At the other end of the spectrum, meanwhile, is the bounce rate metric in Google Analytics. According to the search engine giant, a bounce is "a single-page view or single-event trigger in a session or visit."
Situations that qualify as a bounce include a user visiting your site for only a few seconds before leaving, opening a page but allowing the Web browser session to time out or clicking on a link referred via email, instant message or social media and then exiting the browser.
Many factors can cause this to happen. Remedies for improving your bounce rate include redesigning your pages for usability, optimizing pages so they better match the search terms that bring users to your site, and changing keywords so they're more in line with the page content.
Google Analytics gives you access to a lot of information. At times, it can be both overwhelming and confusing. While the Custom Reports tab option will help you obtain the most relevant data, I recommend that you take notes and create a checklist for yourself. That way, when you return for updates, you can quickly and easily find the data you want. Information on additional Web analytics tools you may want to consider is available from several sites, including Mashable, Inc. and Adobe (registration required).
There's no question that using analytics will help you hone in on your target audience. Remember, though, that a big factor driving your results is how much traffic comes to your site over a given period of time. The more traffic you receive, the easier it will be to spot obvious patterns and trends.
This story, "How to Get Started With Google Analytics" was originally published by CIO.