Online Marketers, Make Room for One More BFF: User Testing

By Harvey Rañola | February 21, 2014
Online Marketers, Make Room for One More BFF: User Testing

For most online marketers, analytics tools are their best friends. You can probably spend hours sifting through analytics data and analyzing it to death… then applying filters and repeating the process until you realize your work day is over (oh who am I kidding - a marketer’s work day is never over).

An online marketer and his  analytics tools - best friends forever. (*note - those are not my actual fingers).

An online marketer and his or her analytics tools: BFFs! (Note - these are not my actual fingers).

Sure, it’s great to have a wealth of quantitative data, but it still doesn’t really show you why a customer chose one version of your ad over another, or why they didn’t convert. This is why relying only on analytics for your advertising strategy is like only watching the first half of a movie. You find out who the characters are and see what they do to drive the story forward, but you might never understand why.

Imagine watching the Breakfast Club only halfway through. At about the midway point, all we know is that the characters are a group of high school students who got in trouble and ended up in Saturday school. We don’t know why they ended up in Saturday school, and we don’t know what motivated these kids to get in trouble.

“I’m so angry, but you’ll have to watch the 2nd half of the movie to find out why!”

“I’m so angry, but you’ll have to watch the 2nd half of the movie to find out why!”

Now, think about the potential customers who clicked one of your ads and ended up on your site. With analytics, you can only guess what motivated these customers to click on your ad and why they did or didn’t convert. Sure, you can make a few educated guesses based on your customers’ actions, but there’s nothing like hearing it straight from the horse’s mouth.

StubHub’s Go Button Story

Take for instance the folks over at StubHub, who were able to increase conversion rates by making a small change to one of their site’s most prevalent elements – a link labeled “More Details.”

By running a few tests on their site, they were able to find out that their customers were confused by this link and were unsure about how to complete a purchase. After completing their study, StubHub changed the link to a bright orange button with the word “Go.” This seemingly minor change resulted in millions of dollars in additional revenue.


The “Go Button” that you can now find on every StubHub event page. Think of all the high fives you’d get in the office if you were able to increase conversion rates by making a small change to your site. It would be awesome (unless of course you’re an introverted germaphobe – then it would probably be terrifying. In this case feel free to imagine yourself jumping for joy with no one around)!

Of course, it still takes quite a bit of effort to get folks over to your site, so here are a few pointers to get you started and on your way to… <evil laugh>eCommerce world domination!</evil laugh>

Let User Feedback Help Tighten Up Your Landing Pages

While your ads play a big part in driving people to your site, your landing pages are equally important to closing the deal with a potential customer. The last thing you would want to happen after someone clicks on your ad is to have an experience like the one in the video below.

This is why it's important to ask your users which ad they would click and why. After they click through, ask them if the page they landed on met expectations. While getting a customer onto your site is a battle in itself, keeping them on your site and converting them is an even bigger challenge. By running this study, you’ll be able to find out the answers to these quesions:

  • What type of ad copy is compelling to your target audience?
  • How much does your ad position matter in getting clicks?
  • What landing page approach is most effective with your audience?

Finding out your landing page approach is particularly important, because as you saw in the StubHub example, one small detail can make a huge difference in converting your customers.

The Internet Doesn’t Begin and End with Google Search

For most internet retailers, a majority of your customers will come from Google search, but there are a number of other ways folks will find your products.

To quickly find out how potential customers are looking for your products, set up a study that starts simply by asking testers to open a new tab in their browser and start shopping for your product. Have them talk their way through the entire process all the way to checkout and leave it open ended. The study might take a little bit of refining after your first attempt, but even your initial tests will yield some valuable information.

Are your customers looking for your products at online marketplaces like Amazon or eBay? Do they click on sponsored links or do they prefer going to organic links? If they visit online marketplaces, are they sorting by price, ratings or both? How do social media and review sites play into your customers’ purchasing decisions?

These are just a few of the things you can expect to learn from your studies, and that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

There's Room in a Marketer's Life for More Than One Best Friend

Just because you start paying more attention to testing, doesn't mean you have to break up with analytics. Remember, each component acts like different halves of a movie.

Analytics provides you with the data you need to know where you should be testing, while testing helps you make sense of this data and find solutions to your biggest issues. When used together, they provide a 1-2 punch that will help your next big advertising push even better.

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About the author(s)
Harvey Rañola

Harvey Rañola is a former Marketing Associate at UserTesting. Outside of the office, he's busy watching sports or trying to convince his wife not to throw away his stash of death metal band shirts.