A common challenge you might be facing is how to gain a better understanding of why you are getting the results you are currently getting, and how to improve them. Sadly, in an ever-changing world, it is hard, if not impossible, to say that a site is fully optimized. What you can do is put in place a system that allows you to understand why your visitors are acting the way they are and learn from it.
In this article, I will try to show you a few examples of resources that can make a solid difference to your business. Although I bring up a few examples of each type, I strongly suggest that you look at all the alternatives out there. You might find solutions that are a better fit for your particular needs.
A/B testing tools
In order to improve your website, a gradual making one change at a time is a good strategy. You should reflect on the effects of each change and then initiate the next test. This might be in conflict with your instinct to make rapid changes; however, it can be a vital way to grow a website. If you imagine that a website has three pages leading to a sale or lead, a 10% increase in each of those stages could lead to a 30% increase in revenue.
Therefore, it can be worthwhile investing in an A/B testing tool which allows you to make changes without having to do any design work. Visual Website Optimizer is one tool that allows you to do this. This testing tool also offers the added advantage of allowing you to bring in consultants to test minor changes without having to give them complete access to the site. Just keep in mind that not all tests are successful. However, a lot can be learned from previous tests, making you wiser as you gain more experience.
User testing videos
It can be very hard to get an outside perspective on what you are doing. Without being aware of it, you can quickly create your own little bubble where you have gone through the site so many times you have forgotten what it is like to see the site for the first time. This is when getting external users to review your site can be very important.
A good testing tool for this can be usertesting.com where you can get videos of users fitting your demographic reviewing what it is like to go through your website. The users will share their thoughts with you as they go along. You can even specify questions you want to ask and get the answers in quantified metrics. This can save you a lot of development time and wasted ad dollars.
Another way to get more information about what your visitors are doing on your site is to install heat mapping like CrazyEgg, HotJar or Clicktale. Using these tools will give you a more detailed look at what visitors are doing on your site. Heat maps, visual maps of how users act on your site, will allow you to see where they are scrolling, and where they are leaving your site.
Heatmaps can be particular useful in picking up where Google Analytics leaves off. You can get a deeper insight into the actions visitors make on each page, and you can use this information to make more specific changes on each page. For instance, you might discover that some content is more popular which can be an indication of an area open for innovation.
The first tool to install on any site to understand your visitors is Google Analytics. It is free and can provide a lot of detailed insights. However, after that, it can be worthwhile to consider other alternatives to get a deeper understanding of how your users go through your site. That can help you iron out bugs and grow faster.
Please keep in mind that you do not need to use all of these tools at the same time. Start with one, get to know it well, then move on to the next one once you have mastered the first one. Also, it can be worthwhile to use the free testing periods you are given on many of these tools to find the right tool for your needs. If you want to test many different tools at the same time, you might want to install Google Tag Manager first to make it easier to add tracking codes.