Do You Need Content Experiments… Erm, yeah?

content experiments

How to run Content Experiments with Google Tag Manager

Do you find yourself making changes to your website’s content on a hunch? Do you then measure how that hunch paid off, or if it did at all? However well you think you know your customers, Content Experiments can put an end to the guess work of content choice and give you cold hard data on the changes you make and what they contribute to the bottom line. Better still, it can increase your conversions whilst in the midst of the experiment so you can make risk free decisions on your variations and profit from their success.  Google Analytics gives you all this for free, while Google Tag Manager makes it easy to implement. So, what have you got to lose?

What are Content Experiments?

Content experiments are a way to test which online content and/or design best achieves your business objectives. Sometimes known as A/B or Multivariate Testing, it compares the outcomes of different page variations, then with a little bit of statistical analysis, proves with confidence, which best achieves the goal. For example, you could test different designs of your Home-Page to see which led to more leads or sales.

How does it work?

In classic A/B testing, a pre-determined amount of traffic is diverted to your experiment page. Goal results are then compared against the original page to see which page generates the highest rate of goal conversion.

Google’s “Multi-Armed Bandit” approach is a more efficient way of doing this, allowing up to 5 variations of the page to form your experiment. This methodology sees proportionally more traffic diverted to the most successful page so you can reach your conclusions faster. This also means you do not lose out on valuable conversions if some of the variations turn out to be underperformers.

How do I set up in Google Analytics

Before setting up in Google Analytics, design and publish you variant web-page. It would be wise to hide this page from Navigation within your website.



Find Experiments in the Behaviour section of Google Analytics


Click on Create Experiment then enter the URL of the page that you want to test.

goal conversion

Give the experiment a meaningful name
Select the objective of the experiment. This could be: which page create the most leads or sales?
Decide how much traffic to divert to the experiment.

goal conversion

Advanced Options gives you the chance to alter the way traffic is distributed to the experiments and the confidence level needed to declare a winner.

goal conversion

Add the URLs of the variant pages you have created.

goal conversion

Click Manually Insert Code

goal conversion

You will now receive the code the needs to be put onto the original page to run the experiment. If you have access to your site’s code and are confident doing it, then you can insert the code directly to the webpage. If not, an easy way to do this is to use Google Tag Manager.

website optimisation

In Google Tag Manager, click to create a new Tag.
Name the tag and select Tag Type as Custom HTML.

website optimisation

Paste the Content Experiment code into the HTML box. Ensure that you tick the Support document write box. This allows the tag to make changes to the page; without this the content experiment will not work.

website optimisation

We only want this tag to appear on the original Content Experiment page so next we create a rule to fire the Tag.

Click Create new rule and give the rule a name.
To fire the tag on the correct page the rule needs to be: fire when the URL equals the page you want to test against (the original page for the experiment).

Create a version, test and publish. Ensure that the tag fires when you navigate to it in Preview & Debug mode.

website optimisation

Finally, back in Google Analytics, Click to Review and start the experiment. When trying to verify the code, Google Analytics will display a warning that the code cannot be found. This is because it is in the Tag Manager, not on the page, but it will still work. Click Start Experiment if you are happy that all has been set up correctly.

website optimisation

And that’s it, your experiment is now live and results/reports can be viewed in the Experiments section of Google Analytics.

Steven Drummond

Web Analytics & Optimisation
"I love solving the technical & marketing challenges that help our customers win more customers."