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A/B and Multivariate Testing with Sitefinity CMS and Google Experiments

by Grigori Karanikolov
Understanding the impact of your website on your visitors becomes almost as important as having a web page in the first place. Usually each page of your website has a specific goal – to capture the attention, to inform or call to a specific action, like filling up a form or purchasing a product. It’s very important to understand how well your page achieves its goals and one of the best ways to measure that is via a comparison. This is the essence or A/B and multivariate testing - the main idea with these is to create several versions of your original page that deliver the same information differently (different images, buttons, colors, etc.) and to evaluate which one does the job the best.

Of course, you can’t afford to put up a page for a month, then replace it with another version and measure the results at the end – that would take too much time and the dynamics of the circumstances might also affect your visitors’ behavior. That is why it’s best to have a way to measure the pages’ impact side by side.

But how?

Google gives a great tool to achieve that – it’s called Google Experiments. The whole process involves several easy steps and can be set up literally in less than 10 minutes.

  1. Create a Google Analytics account.
    When you do, add your website to it so that Google can start receiving analytics data:
    Google Analytics Account Administration
  2. Connect your website to Google Analytics
    When step 1 is done, Google Analytics will provide you with a tracking code.  
  3. Google Analytics Tracking Code

    Copy that code, open your website’s page template and drop a Google Analytics widget somewhere in there. It will not be visible on the frontend, so it’s not that important where you drop it.

    Sitefinity GA Widget 
    Paste the tracking code inside:

    Now your website is connected to your Google Analytics account and it will start sending visitor data.

  4. Set up your Experiment.
    Enter your Google Analytics account, open the Reporting tab and choose the Content section from the reports on the left. You should find the Experiments there. When you start creating an experiment, you will be asked for the URL of the page you’d like to improve:
    Creating a GA Experiment
    I’ve chosen the home page of my Quantum website that I’ve set up on a Sitefinity sandbox. It looks like this:
    Sitefinity Experiment page
    What Google Analytics will ask me for is to provide the URLs of the pages that are variations of the one above.

    So I need to create some and present any information of my choice in various ways to see which one is more effective. Sitefinity CMS helps, as it gives me an easy way to duplicate any page, so that the copy can be customized according to my desire:
    Cloning a Sitefinity page
    That’s the variation I came up with for our experiment:
    Sitefinity Page Variation

    After creating my variation page, I’m ready to insert its URL into Google Analytics.
    The next step is to set the experiment options – objectives, percentage of my website visitors to include in the experiment, experiment time, etc.
    Setting up page experiment options
    It’s your call to determine how you would evaluate the success of your page – will it be the achievement of a specific goal (filled out form, button clicked, etc), decreased bounce rate or prolonged stay on the page. When you are ready here, you will be provided with a code for the experiment. Google Analytics requires you to plug that code in the <head> section of your original page.
    GA Experiment code
    And we have provided you with just the tool to do that – just enter the “Titles & Properties” configuration screen for the original page you’re experimenting with
    Sitefinity Page Title and Properties
    and locate under the Advanced options the field, where you can insert code directly into the head section of your page. Insert the code that Google Analytics provided you with there:
    Inserting code into a Sitefinity Page head section
    When you’re done, you can proceed with the next step in your Google Analytics account. The pages you included in the experiment will be checked if you did everything correctly. If you’ve followed the steps so far, this is what you will see: Validating if a GA Experiment is set up correctly

    All that’s left for you to do at this point is review and run the experiment:
    Reviewing GA page experiment

    GA Page experiment launch confirmation

    That’s it! You can make sure your experiment is running – open your experiment page and note the additional tracking code, that Google Analytics has added to your URL. This is how it captures information regarding your visitors:

    Verifying that your GA page experiment is running

    And if you try accessing the website from different computers, you will notice that you will be redirected to one or another variation of your home page automatically. Once the experiment is complete, you will be able to use the statistics that Google Analytics provides to determine which variation would work better for achieving your goals.

Happy experimenting!


Leave a comment
  1. Pavel Donchev May 23, 2013
    Great resource.
    I will definitely spend some time playing with it.

    Thanks a lot!
  2. Rajat Garg May 28, 2013
    Nice read! There is a lot more to it when it comes to native mobile apps.

    Checkout http://www.optimimo.com

    Leave a comment