Business-like, isn't he?



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    Local company helping deliver better online business results

    by  Alan Zisman (c) 2007 First published in Business in Vancouver November 27-December 3, 2007; Issue 944

    High Tech Office column

    It’s 11 o’clock at night. Do you know what your website is doing?

    All too often, our websites aren’t doing what we want – failing to make it easy for users – for would-be customers to buy our products, sign up for events or just find the information we want to share with them.

    Websites can fail to be effective for various reasons:

    •IT staff often design online forms with little regard to effective design;

    •marketing may demand more personal information than is really required, driving increasingly privacy-conscious users away from the website;

    •amateur designers can make navigation buttons and tools hard to find; and

    •even professional web designers may overload users with fancy animations and splash screens, wasting their time enough to turn them into someone else’s customers.

    Raquel Hirsch of Vancouver’s WiderFunnel Marketing ( points out that “you can have a million visitors a month, but if they’re not transacting or clicking where you want them to, you’ve wasted your money getting them to your site.”

    She estimated that typically, only between 2% and 10% of the people visiting a website stay to complete a transaction there.

    WiderFunnel is the only Canadian consultant authorized by Google for its Website Optimizer software.

    Using this software, WiderFunnel can help a client set up a series of tests that run as many as hundreds of webpage versions simultaneously to point to the combination of design and content that leads to the best results.

    Many companies have done website usability testing, but typically the tests are carried out in a lab. WiderFunnel’s tests use real web pages displayed to real users, live on the Internet.

    The results, available live, provide a more accurate picture of how users are responding and how to get optimal results.

    Like most of Google’s software, Google Website Optimizer is reasonably easy to use and available free (; anyone can download it and use it.

    Google has established a network of Google Website Optimizer authorized consultants to help clients use the software in a more disciplined manner to optimize their websites for more effective (and profitable) outcomes.
    WiderFunnel promises the expertise to enable organizations to know what sorts of website content and design changes are worthwhile testing and how to analyze the results.

    Google’s Tom Leung noted that authorized consultants like WiderFunnel “have a strong track record in planning, executing and troubleshooting website tests.”

    As a result, they can help organizations “combine Google technologies with industry expertise and classic marketing frameworks to provide specialized managed solutions.”

    He added that this can be a way for organizations to boost results when using advertising programs like Google’s popular AdWords.

    WiderFunnel, according to Leung, shares Google’s “overall vision for the power of testing and performance marketing.”

    WiderFunnel Marketing was launched in June 2007 by veteran marketer Hirsch and website developer Chris Goward.

    The young company’s evangelism for Google Website Optimizer is already showing results.

    According to Goward, client Tourism British Columbia was buying TV ads in Los Angeles and San Francisco directing interested viewers to a website to request mailing of pamphlets and other information.

    Prior to working with WiderFunnel, the website had a 71% conversion rate; optimization pushed that further to 79%.
    Polling firm Environics saw more dramatic results: real-time evaluation and optimization enabled them to increase the percentage of people signing up for web-based seminars by 290%. •

Alan Zisman is a Vancouver educator, writer, and computer specialist. He can be reached at E-mail Alan

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