The Official Google Website Optimizer Blog - The most up-to-date product news, industry insights, and testing strategies

Online Marketing in Uncertain Times

Friday, May 23, 2008 5/23/2008 04:15:00 PM

Posted by Tom Leung and Tamara Micner, Website Optimizer Blog Team

We're all concerned these days about the bottom line: economic uncertainty is still around, marketing budgets are getting more scrutiny, and tolerance for "spend and hope" marketing investments are understandably under attack.

When revenue is uncertain and ROI is even more important than usual, any advertising that can precisely measure and track results is especially valuable. Online, that's very doable. You can see where your money's going, what you should invest in and what you should change.

In fact, companies that invest intelligently in growing their business, even in softer markets, will be able to leapfrog their competition, who might be much less efficient with their ad spend or turn it off altogether.

SEM campaigns have always been attractive, since they give you crystal-clear metrics on how much you're spending for how many eyeballs and clicks on specific keywords and creatives. And Google Website Optimizer shows you exactly which changes will improve (or reduce) your online conversions—however you define them.

Here's an example: StairSupplies, a customer of ours that produces custom orders for stair remodeling and new home construction. About a year ago, they started testing their homepage with LunaMetrics, one of our Authorized Consultants. Can you guess which screenshot below was the original homepage, and which was the winning redesign?

The winner was #2: all it took was deleting the image of the model and hiding the drop-down menu on the left side. Surprisingly, the page with the extra image did worse, when best practices dictate the opposite. Even best practices can be wrong, and you don't know when unless you test.

Although the changes to the homepage seemed trivial to Len Morris, StairSupplies' CEO, they made a huge difference to users. StairSupplies' online conversion rate increased by 144%, and average order size increased by 18%.

At the end of the day, as
Avinash Kaushik says, your ads shouldn't write checks that your website can't cash. So as your marketing checks get smaller, let us help you make the most of your traffic and your budget.