Jun 04 2012

Google Content Experiments and How It Affects eCommerce

Google Content Experiments Conversion Optimization

The Google Analytics Team recently announced the addition of Content Experiments to Google Analytics and the last day for Google Website Optimizer (GWO), set to be August 1. Content Experiments will begin gradually rolling out for all Google Analytics users and will be found in the Content section. This is a huge move for Google and introduces some important new features to testing but excludes other features.

Content Experiments allows Google Analytics users to easily set up and monitor conversion optimization tests in the Analytics interface rather than the Google Website Optimizer interface. This is fantastic news for eCommerce retailers who are (and you should all be) using Google Analytics for site monitoring. Integrating Experiments with Google Analytics has some huge advantages from the way a test is set up to test reporting.


Google Content Experiments Step 1Test setup in Content Experiments is much easier than test setup in GWO. Because Content Experiments uses your already-installed Google Analytics code to run the test, it cuts down on the amount of extra javascript you have to add to your site for a test. With Content Experiments, you only have to add a control script to your site rather than multiple GWO scripts plus Google Analytics scripts.

Content Experiments allows users to use Google Analytics goals as test conversions. This means you can easily use an event goal, such as “add to cart” or a URL as your test conversion.

Some Google Analytics tracking functions can be applied to tests. Currently, the best way to integrate Google Analytics and a GWO test is implementing Custom Variable Tracking in Google Analytics. This works beautifully and gives you more robust data relating to your GWO test, including eCommerce data. The good news is that while in the current version, Content Experiments does apply eCommerce data to experiments, it does allow you to apply custom segments and page-related metrics.

Testing length has been changed to provide more robust statistical calculations. Tests will run a minimum of 2 weeks in order to collect more data and provide better statistical confidence in a winner. Tests will automatically end after 3 months of testing to prevent a test from running if a statistical winner is unlikely.


For eCommerce sites, the major disadvantage is the lack of multivariate testing. Currently, Content Experiments only allows users to implement A/B testing. With the final day of GWO already set, we are hoping Google will decide to roll multivariate testing into Content Experiments in the near future. While A/B testing is extremely useful, it is not the test of choice in all situations. Until multivariate testing is added to Content Experiments, we suggest continuing to use GWO for all your multivariate testing needs, but remember, it won’t be available after August 1.

We are by no means condemning Content Experiments. Thus far, we only see the one glaring disadvantage, which we don’t know will still be a disadvantage by August 1. Stay tuned to our blog in the coming weeks as we will continue to uncover more details about Content Experiments and how it can be used to better your eCommerce site’s conversion rate.

Blue Acorn


Toni Anicic
Jun 05 2012

I’ve been looking into it and I really can’t wait to start testing with it. The ability to use GA goals cuts down the implementation significantly.

Alok Chowdhury
Jun 18 2012

Thanks! This update will be extremely useful. I’m sure Google will work to only further improve on this product after they’ve analyzed how marketers use their products (adding in multivariate testing). This will benefit any company online (not just ecommerce) by simplifying the process of test, optimize, rinse and repeat..

Deborah Parker
Jun 28 2012

When we used to Google Website Optimizer for content optimization then its really hard to do split testing. Now Google analytics included this feature by shuting down Optimizer. Its quite useful update by Google. Now its really easy to do content optimization.

Max Valverde
Aug 13 2012

We can’t figure out how to set up an ecommerce conversion goal. The URL testing will not work for us because only half of our customers end at our thank you page while the others disappear into paypal. It’s all being registered with the ecommerce tracking for google analytics, but we have not been able to effectively create a goal that accurately represents the conversions. Any ideas?

Annes Alex org
Nov 09 2012

I got the same question as Max. How can we track ecommerce conversions? Event goals?


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