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When you look at websites today there is often a lot happening on the website you visit. That’s why doing a take out test might be very useful. A take out test is when you remove something from the process and measure it to see if it improves anything. When you look at your sites through this Analytics lens you may find simply taking something away vastly improves how people interact with your site or application.

How to define what to take away

First things first, don’t simply go to your website and start removing things, look at your analytics tools. I find the Google Analytics – In Page analytics tool (a Chrome Plugin), Adobe Analytics ClickMap or Activity Map useful to quickly see which large areas of real estate have low numbers of clicks or interactions.

For instance we’ve talked about Stockmann before (in Finnish only) and while I have no idea whether what they’re doing right now works, I do see the potential to test their hero banner.

There is a big summer sale going on and its being advertised heavily on the home page of the website. There may be a huge click through rate to the products behind the banner or there may not be. I am in no way suggesting that this is a “bad example” of how to do eCommerce.

However what I would do is look at the analytics. Are people clicking through the main banner? Because if only 1% are clicking through then that might be a huge waste of real estate that could be better filled with individual products on sale.

The take out test in this case might be to remove the Auringon Alle graphic and do an A/B test on whether putting 3 top items Stockmann have on sale in the place of the hero graphic would work better. Of course if the Auringon Alle graphic has a 50% click through rate to the next page then it’s doing a great job so leave well alone.

The point being, is that specific graphic doing a good job for your business? Is it helping you hit your business objectives?

If it is then keep on doing it.

If it’s not test some different ideas that do move you towards your business goals.

Do a take out test on traffic sources

Another way to use a take out test is to critically look at your paid media traffic sources. Are they performing at levels that help you hit your business objectives? This is slightly more complicated than looking at graphics on your website because you need to take attribution into account. However if you find a campaign that is not driving any traffic of any value, long or short term in your customer lifecycle, then test simply not doing it for a few months.

Does it make any difference?

If you just save money by not paying and there is little to no impact on the business objectives you have set yourself then you have freed up some advertising budget to use on more useful activities. If your take out test shows the opposite then you have just proved the value of the media you’re buying for sales attribution.

Action points

  1. Install a heat map view or click map tool for your analytics pages.
  2. Examine areas of large real estate on your website, or traffic sources from your normal reports and define which ones are not meeting your business objectives.
  3. Run the take out test  – either as part of an A/B testing program or simply a time based before and after test.
  4. Which works better?
  5. Rinse and repeat.

Take out tests could be one of the Analytics lenses you find invaluable to continuously optimise your online services. Try them.