Testing is probably the most effective way to optimize websites. Through testing we can understand what our customers like, which ultimately will help us create a better customer experience for our audience. But “our audience” is usually not a unique type of person; it is important use techniques such as Test Segmentation to understand the differences in the tastes of each cluster of customers.
However, where can you get ideas for tests? How do you choose, for example, if you should use an image of a man, a woman, a couple, a baby or a family? Most of us do not have the privilege of testing the YouTube homepage: traffic is limited for most sites, so it is important to run tests that have a high chance of making a difference. We have to focus our efforts on our best guesses. In this post, we will show a way to use DoubleClick Ad Planner to research for testing ideas that will be tailor made to the segments you are trying to target in your website.
Finding Your Audience on Ad Planner
In a recent blog post on the DoubleClick Advertiser Blog, the DoubleClick Ad Planner mission is described as:
…to provide the deepest, most accurate insight into online audiences possible. This insight helps display advertisers select the best sites for their media plans and drive results for their campaigns.
However, I believe this description is missing an important part, which is not less important to advertisers: to understand your audience tastes and which kind of websites they like. The DoubleClick Ad Planner provides important insights into how to design your campaign landing pages and your website at all.
So, let’s suppose I am working to optimize the eMetrics Summit website for the San Francisco conference in 2011. The Summit targets marketing managers, web analysts and business intelligence experts that are trying to understand how to increase the return on online investments. Here is how to find the tastes and preferences of this audience:
- Sign in to DoubleClick Ad Planner and create a new Media plan;
- Go to Research tab, choose the Research by Audience secondary tab;
- Choose among the various segmentation options in order to narrow the audience and the websites they visit. Below are the segments chosen for eMetrics San Francisco audience:
- Geography: chose country USA and refined it to include only West Coast states. That’s the main target for this show since eMetrics also hosts a Washington DC conference
- Demographics: included both males and females, between 25 and 44 years old, with at least a bachelor degree, with a household income above $ 75K. I think this segment is very close to the audience of the conference (but I have no inside information)
- Online Activity: chose a large website that the audience is likely to visit: Google Analytics
- Interests: chose everything under ‘Business’ and ‘Computers & Electronics’
- Ranking Method: chose the ranking method to be ‘Best Match’ since we are not doing this analysis in order to find a place to advertise (in which case we might sort the websites by reach), but to find a place that our target likes to visit
Below is a screenshot from DoubleClick Ad Planner showing all the segmenting options and the audience created above. We can call the list created below “Website Testing Inspiration”
Getting Ideas for Your Test
Once we find the “Website Testing Inspiration” table, which shows the websites where our targeted audience is surfing around, we have the raw material necessary to get ideas for our testing efforts. Continuing our example above, we can visit the websites in the Top 10 websites that match our audience and start analyzing them.
So, here are a few insights from the analysis above for the eMetrics San Francisco home:
- First of all, looks like Jim Sterne chose the right color, blue is very prominent in all the websites;
- Idea #1: it could be worth a try to add some geeky machines to the page, such as in the Pitney Bowes, Kaiser Permanente and Frys websites;
- Idea #2: call these companies and have someone present at eMetrics and feature it at the conference homepage;
- Idea #3: submit a post to both TechCrunch and Gizmodo, which would certainly be happy to feature interesting content about social media metrics. The posts would be useful in order to promote the conference and, in terms of testing, the eMetrics homepage could try featuring in a prominent place that the conference is being quoted in these websites (something like “In the news”);
- Idea #4: interesting to see that Stack Overflow is number 5 on the list, a website for “professional and enthusiast programmers”. It looks like many technical people are inside this audience. Maybe it could be worthwhile to try showing a classification on the site targeting different types of people: “Programmers only talks”, “Business Minded talks”, “Marketers, Statisticians and liars”…
Bonus: Instead of looking for your audience and which sites they visit, you can also look into your competitors’ sites and understand which segments they are attracting that you are not. Read more about it on Avinash’s post: Competitive Intelligence Analysis: Google / DoubleClick Ad Planner.