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Monthly Conversion Optimisation Tools Update – January 2019

AWA digital’s Marketing Coordinator, Nicole Major, explores the latest conversion optimisation tools and industry news.

Happy New Year! While January traditionally does not see many new tech releases, there is good news for fans of Google Optimize with the giants from Mountain View giving us two updates that offer far more flexibility to the platform. First, the long-awaited chance to make changes to tests that are already live and, secondly, the ability to add your own custom Javascript.

Google Optimize – Quickly stop and edit a live test

Google Optimize has been steadily rolling out updates the last 12 months as it transforms from a basic testing tool to something altogether more grown up.

One of the persistent grumbles from us through all of these improvements has been the fact that once you have set a test to live you can’t change anything. Not a single thing. You can only stop it.

In an ideal world of course you wouldn’t need to change anything once it is live as it may skew results. But even the best laid plans sometimes have a bug, or a typo, or you want to tweak targeting criteria. Until now, the only way to do that would be stop the test and start a new one, re-enter all the code changes, re-setup all the criteria and push start. 

But in Optimize you’ll now see three little vertical dots next to the name of each experience or container. Hover over these and it shows ‘More Options’. These options change depending on whether that experience is in the draft, running or ended state.

Jan 19 image 1

All of the additions (the full matrix is shown in the table below) are very welcome, but to us the most useful is the Stop & Edit function with a test that is running. It will stop the current experience, create a copy and let you make any changes you want before saving as new. It’s not quite editing that test, but it’s pretty damn close and does have the benefit of starting the count from zero so there’s no guesswork at skewed results.

Jan 19 tools blog image 2The experience options available in Optimize and the states where they’re available.


Google Optimize (again) – the new Javascript API offers flexibility for serious test coding

Yet another big step closer to being grown up for Google Optimize, additional coding flexibility and power is something that has been lacking compared to the big boys of Optimizely and Visual Website Optimizer.

Nearly all of the tests we implement for clients are hard coded by specialist split test programmers, who have an in-depth knowledge of all the major testing platforms and programming languages.

But most companies aren’t set up with that kind of resource. And asking your dev team to learn a complete IT platform may not go down very well. So, the new Javascript API will be a very welcome addition. It allows you to use your own JavaScript code to make changes to variants by utilising call-back functions. You can also choose to combine these code changes with edits made using the Optimize visual editor if you so wish.

You can even provide your own experiment implementation based on JavaScript code that is provided by your own site, and skip using the Optimize editor altogether.

But, there are a few scenarios, especially with MVT tests, where you will need to be careful around the code loading order. Optimize loads asynchronously and this means it’s not possible to check for the inclusion of an experiment from synchronous code (ie: code that loads in a certain order). So, even if things seem to work, sometimes the order of execution is not guaranteed and your development team will need to do some workarounds.

However, Google have detailed all of these workarounds – and the fixes to them – in quite a bit of detail on their site so it shouldn’t be too much of a problem for a seasoned coder. The other good news is that the Optimize JavaScript API also provides you access to the google_optimize global variable that has a ‘get’ method, which can be useful in debugging scenarios.

Both of these Google updates are extremely useful and reinforce the point that Optimize is rapidly growing up into a solid alternative to the big, paid-for platforms even for more serious testers.

We hear that there are also plenty more updates to come through 2019, so stay tuned.

If you want to learn more about conversion rate optimisation, read our Advanced Guide to CRO. This guide shares nearly a decade’s worth of experience of increasing online sales and revenue for multichannel businesses to empower you with the skills and knowledge to transform your business.

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