August 14, 2003, 12:00 AM

Nothing beats good old-fashioned A/B testing, says Omniture CEO

A/B testing is a must for marketing and for site design, as DiscoveryChannel.com and MyFamily.com demonstrated in tests aimed at increasing conversions.

Kurt Peters

Executive Editor

 

Marketing 101 still applies to the Internet, John Pestana, president, cofounder and chairman of analytics company Omniture Inc., told the eTail 2003 East conference in Boston this week. Specifically: A/B testing is a must for marketing and for site design

Omniture client the Discovery Channel, with 200 stores and a retail web site, wanted to leverage its hit shows to produce sales, he said. Its popular Trading Spaces show accounted for a high percentage of searches on the home page, but a promotion on the home page for the show’s home care and home remodeling products underperformed. Customers were searching for Trading Spaces editorial but completely ignoring the Trading Spaces promotion. After testing various designs, Discovery Channel converted a major banner on the home page from a catalog promotion to a Trading Spaces promotion. Sales of Trading Spaces goods increased sales by 35% and total site revenue went up by 25%. Interestingly, catalog sales benefited, increasing 30%.

MyFamily.com, a genealogical search site, wanted to boost its subscription rates. It tested several approaches before changing from a simple home page urging customers to subscribe to a more complex page, with specific offers on products at the site, including records and historical newspapers. Demand for historical newspapers went up 77%, for US records up 64% and for records from UK and Ireland up 41%. “It produced a revolution inside the company,” Pestana said. “Previously, people treated web pages as though they were sacred. Now, nobody is worried about sacred pages and anybody can test.” For example, he said, if a marketing manager want to test the use of more underlining to indicate a link, “senior management will say you have tomorrow from noon to six to test,” he said.

 

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