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Measure all the things

Written by Warren Holmes on November 25, 2013 News.


I’ve been at WooThemes for a little over 2 years. In that time, we’ve changed and improved a lot of what we do, and how we do it.

We no longer use Subversion, we create plugins and other offerings in addition to themes, and we’ve moved into a bigger office. Those are just a few of the day-to-day areas which have changed. The important changes have been in our philosophy and our approach to how we run Woo.

The biggest change (at least for me) at WooThemes is that we now measure everything we do. We’re big fans of the Lean Business Model and, as far as we can, we apply the Build > Measure > Learn philosophy to everything we do.

One of the best places you’ll see that philosophy in action is right here, on our website. We measure absolutely everything we can, and use that data in our decisions about design, functionality, improving conversions and the general performance of the website.

The Tools

The implementation of this philosophy wouldn’t be possible without some of the great tools we’re using.

Google analytics

If you’ve not got this setup on your website, you’re doing the internet wrong. A great resource about everything you need to know to get started can be found here

Its incredibly easy to get setup on Google Analytics. You’ll get a lot of reporting done for you, for free.

If you wanted to, you could use Google Analytics for almost everything. You can record events and you can do A/B testing.

We use Google Analytics for our visitor reports, content analysis, geolocation reporting, sales reports and, most importantly, our campaign reporting.

To effectively measure your campaigns, it’s super important that you tag all URLs used in a campaign. Be sure to bookmark Google’s URL builder for when you need it.

The real power in Google Analytics is the feature for creating custom reports. You can read a bit more about those here Here are a few reports I find invaluable:


KissMetrics has been the most important tool in our arsenal. We use KissMetrics to improve our activation, engagement and revenue metrics.

With KissMetrics, we’re able to measure what our users are doing on our website. This is the important differentiator between KissMetrics and Google Analytics. In fact, it’s against Google’s terms of service to identify a user by name at all.

We use KissMetrics to record every event we consider important and pass contextual data along with that event when necessary. Of course we’re using our own plugin for this!

Once you’re recording your events correctly (our plugin does a lot for you) there are a myriad different kinds of reports you can generate. The most interesting reports I’ve used are the cohort reports. What’s that? They’re best explained here.

A/B testing

There’s certainly been a lot said lately, by people more experienced and smarter than I, about why you shouldn’t A/B test.

We’ve only been running A/B testing for a couple of months, and, so far, we’ve seen some massive improvements.

Since we’ve started using an A/B testing platform, we’ve had two massive wins.

First off, we redesigned our homepage. Why? Well, our previous homepage never had any valuable call-to-actions. While it was extremely well designed and slick, it wasn’t converting visitors into customers by downloading our free products, signing up, or making a purchase. Since the redesign, we’ve seen a 28% improvement in our sign ups, we have more visitors viewing our product-related pages and visiting the Club Subscription page.

We also improved our email sign ups by a massive 70% on our blog! Here’s what we initially had and here’s the more effective design.

New Relic

While its great to be able to measure how well our designs, sales and marketing are doing on our website, none of that would be possible without keeping the website up. To help us out, we have New Relic integrated on our servers. This allows us to view reports on how our servers, databases and specific pages are doing.

This allows us to quickly find where bottle necks are, and its been a great help to us to get our code to scale.

I hope the tools listed above can help you in making informed decisions, like it has for us. Are there any other tools we should be using? Share your thoughts in the comments.


3 Responses

  1. Jon
    November 25, 2013 at 5:51 pm #

    I added AB Testing to the ideas board back in May, not had much response yet. Hopefully this post and comment will get more people to vote it up!

    Split testing to improve conversions is probably the biggest thing missing from woocommerce right now. (Though I dread to think how much you will price it at.)

    Or perhaps a blog post on how you went about doing the split testing on woo, you’ve already stated the massive improvements it returned. Passing this info onto your customers would certainly be appreciated by at least me.

    There does appear to be some more plugins for wordpress now since I first looked into this. If anyone has used them I welcome feedback and advice.

    • Warren Holmes
      November 28, 2013 at 2:12 pm #

      That’s not functionality we’d bake into WooCommerce, you can easily add the JS from on the many A/B testing services out there šŸ™‚

      We use VWO for all our A/B testing.

      I’ll definitely look at doing a blog post on some of the tests we ran and what was successful and what wasn’t.

  2. Tony Nguyen
    December 2, 2013 at 6:38 pm #

    You’re right. it’s neccessary to Google Analytics right now! Thank for sharing your experience! keep posting more and more post like that! Thank you Warren!