On the Web: Testing, Testing: 5 Web Attributes to Test This Season
Dare to be different and get a jump on the competition by testing out the mobile waters. It's not expensive and the benefits far outweigh the resource outlay. Feeling overwhelmed by the magnitude of mobile? That's OK. Just start by optimizing your emails for mobile. Less than a quarter of companies are doing that, and it's a great way to get your toes wet. Cindy Krum's book, "Mobile Marketing: Finding Your Customers No Matter Where They Are," is a fantastic primer on mobile.
Live chat has come a long way. If you haven't tried it yet, now is a great time to start. There are two major types of chat: one, the customer contacts you by clicking on a live support button (check out MARCO Promotional Products; it has a good example of this on its site); or two, instigated chat where you contact customers based on a formula you've preset (oftentimes this is the length of time a user has been on a particular page, the site in general, or in a "trouble" area such as text search results or the shopping cart. Check out Tiny Prints; it does a nice job of this.)
Both types of live chat are worth testing on your site. What's more, live chat services from companies such as LivePerson and Bold Software make it quick and easy to set up. If you can only test one, try instigated chat first. It's easiest because you get to choose when and where you want to use it. (Hint: Try checkout first.)
A/B Split Testing
For many companies, the holiday season (or the end of the year for B-to-B folks) means increased traffic, which, in turn, makes it one of the best times to test. There are lots of good A/B split and multivariate testing tools out there (e.g., SiteSpect, Adobe Test&Target, and Vertster), but if you have a limited budget, Google Website Optimizer is free and Visual Website Optimizer is dirt cheap and super easy to use.