Performable Wants to Take the Guesswork Out of Web Marketing

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his next move. With Elias Torres, a Lookery colleague who is now Performable’s chief technology officer, and a Newburyport, MA-based interface designer named Joshua Porter, he started exploring the then-burgeoning topic of A/B testing.

“We created a ton of landing pages and campaigns, and started to test a whole bunch of different concepts, and the more we got down this road the more we realized that even for people like us, who are very technical, this is an insanely difficult process,” Cancel says. Serious multivariate testing on the Web requires not just choosing which messages or design elements to test, but setting up the test pages themselves and measuring what visitors do once they find them (not to mention refining the test pages based on the incoming data, then testing them some more). “It’s a path that very few people can get down on their own,” says Cancel. “So we started to build a platform to do a lot of that automatically.”

Performable’s Web-based system—which Cancel says is already being used by “some great companies” that the startup isn’t quite ready to name—makes it easy for non-technical marketing professionals or website managers to create marketing-oriented Web pages customized for their own industry, be it healthcare or wireless communications. Since Performable hosts the pages, users don’t have to change anything about their main websites—which is a huge plus, given the rigmarole required to implement website design changes even at small companies.

A Performable user simply selects an action he wants to carry out—he may want to capture visitors’ e-mail addresses, or get them to download an application or a whitepaper. Performable gives the user a template optimized to induce that action, along with a URL that can be integrated into a marketing campaign. “And if you click ‘clone,’” says Cancel, “you can duplicate that page and start testing multiple versions with different marketing copy. You could create 20 versions of a page in 10 minutes, if you wanted to. We’d automatically start routing traffic to the different pages, then tell you which ones are performing better.”

Normally I could point you to a company website explaining such details in greater depth, but Cancel says his team has been so heads-down working with clients and improving the platform that it hasn’t had time to build one.

Cancel says the software is evolving with input from Performable’s early users. One feature the company has added is a set of guidelines or best practices for multivariate testing. “What we find is that a lot of people don’t even know what they should be testing,” Cancel says. “We dive down through the process. We ask things like, ‘Do you have much traffic?’ If the answer is no, then don’t even consider multivariate testing because you will never have enough traffic to be significant. If you do, try a simple A/B test—and maybe start by testing the button text in your call to action. We suggest what we’ve seen perform best for that industry and the action you’re trying to evoke.”

As another way to promote awareness and understanding of A/B testing, Performable launched ABtests.com, a community site where members can … Next Page »

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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  • http://www.dailygrommet.com Jules Pieri

    I always have time for a good interview with David Cancel. I like the way he thinks–he’s given me great advice when I’ve asked. I like that he can straddle vision and big picture while always having his feet solidly planted on the ground. That came through in this article.

  • Online marketing tanácsadó

    David cancel is great. Online marketing can only work if it is constantly examined and worked on. That is what my experience dictates. There is no single solution to different problems or results online.