Published
February 2017
Topics

The Next Web's conferences bring tech leaders, entrepreneurs, and marketers together to innovate, share, and look ahead. The first TNW conference was created in 2006 by Patrick de Laive and Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten, when they couldn't find the kind of event they needed to showcase their own startup.

That first event drew a respectable 280 attendees, but the founders knew they needed a better way to promote future TNW conferences. That's when they launched thenextweb.com, a tech news and culture website that today attracts 8 million users a month. The Next Web's two annual conferences in New York City and Amsterdam now draw over 20,000 attendees.

The Next Web's marketing team uses promotional messages within articles on thenextweb.com to drive potential attendees to the conference website and sell tickets. To find out which combination of messages works best, they used Google Optimize 360, an integrated part of the Google Analytics 360 Suite.

Testing made easy

"We want more people to read content on thenextweb.com as a first step," says Martijn Scheijbeler, who leads the marketing team's efforts. "If we can convince them to become a loyal user, we can try to interest them in different opportunities. In the end, we'd like them to join us at one of our events to experience what The Next Web is really about."

That makes it critical to find just the right message for their thenextweb.com promotional messages.

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In the past, testing new messages required much effort from several teams — Scheijbeler and the marketing team would consult with an analyst to come up with a hypothesis and test case, then hand it off to a developer to be created, who would then hand it to the QA team for review. Then it would finally be ready to go live.

But with Optimize 360, marketers can create and launch tests themselves. The visual editor makes it easy to change messages instantly, with direct preview for QA. Suddenly, tests that used to take hours to set up now take minutes.

'All Killer, No Filler'

With one of its conferences coming up, The Next Web's marketing team wanted to compare different headlines and descriptions to see which combination would drive more readers to their conference page. Using Optimize 360, The Next Web team ran a multivariate experiment to discover the combinations that worked best.

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Optimize 360's approach to multivariate testing allows for quick analysis while also ensuring all combinations are displayed and shown to users. Optimize 360 also displays the probability that a given variant will perform better than the original, so you can act with confidence.

For The Next Web, the results were clear. The "All Killer, No Filler" headline with the "This one's different, trust us" description was the clear winner. During the experiment it performed 26.5% better than the original headline and description, with a 100% probability to beat baseline.

The Analytics 360 connection

The integration between Optimize 360 and Google Analytics 360 is a major help in the testing process. "With other testing platforms you need to put in a lot of extra time to set up extra tracking," says Scheijbeler. "With Optimize 360, the data you're looking at is always the same as the data from Analytics 360. All the metrics that you care about are consistent for the tests that you're running."

"For any test on article pages, we look at the secondary metrics that are important to us — overall engagement in page views per session and the specific clickthrough rates on page elements like related stories and sidebars. All these metrics are in Analytics 360 making it possible for us to do even further analysis."

A call to action

After seeing those large improvements with the "All Killer, No Filler" headline and the "This one's different, trust us" description, Scheijbeler's team decided to also test the text on the call-to-action button. They tried three options:

  • Find out more (the original)
  • Check it out
  • Learn more

Again, the results were clear. Variant 2, "Check it out," was the clear winner, performing more than 107% better than the original with a 99% probability to beat baseline.

The bottom line

Today The Next Web team tests and optimizes its conference messages day by day. Better messaging means more traffic to The Next Web conference site, and that means more attendees. It also gives the marketing team extra wins like higher awareness and more newsletter signups.

"Optimize 360 and Analytics 360 make testing easy for us," he continues. "They give us much better insights into how many clicks we're getting for each message. We're reaching more people who want to come to our conferences, and those better results are going right to our bottom line."