Having built a website, I pointed a Google Ads campaign at it only to get no sales. I tend to learn things the difficult way. So, after getting some great advice about serving up a random selection of pages when the visitors come in, I set about putting together a crude solution for my own ends. Okay, it only took half a day, but somebody out there might take it and turn it into something a little more useful and re-share
All I needed was that I could point my advertising campaign at a page on my website (say, www.whatever.com/sales/Default.aspx) and have the page issue a redirect to one of a selection of landing pages. I wanted the page which was served up to be logged in a database (SQL Server), and a session variable set so that future pages could be aware of how the visitor came in (ie, via which page). Also, for future use, I thought I'd create a field in the database that could store an email address enabling me to build a list later on
Using the code
To set up and use this code, we have to do several things, an assumption is made that you are using ASP NET with SQL Server as a database.
Set up the database
First thing to do is to create the database, I have called mine 'Marketing'. The scripts in the file SetupDB.txt accomplish this. There is one table called Events and another lookup table called EventTypes. Basically the Events table stores the events as people hit your web pages. I have created three event types - 1= to record the arrival of a visitor, 2 = to record at any subsequent page during the visitors time on your website, 3 = to take the customers email address if required, might be useful for list building
Unpack and check out the Tester
There is a simple tester app provided so you can make sure things are working before placing in your ASP Net project. Unpack and run the solution, the screen will look like this
Apologies for the poor presentation, and entering bad values into fields will cause errors as I haven't invested any time in trapping errors - this app is simply for testing the dll in the project SplitTesting. Use the connection panel to connect to the database you created with the scripts, then click 'Left' to close the left panel. This will leave the main white text box in view, I have placed some test data in there to save time typing. Screen will now look like this
The three lines of text will be parsed into 'Page' objects. A Page object simply holds the address of a page and the split (out of a hundred) that it will be served up. So, two pages should be 50/50, or 60/40 etc. You can see here that the three are 30, 30 and 40. testpage3, then, will be served up 40% of the time
At this point, it might be good to have SQL Management Studio open so that you can see the results of running the test. Click 'Run Once' in the tester, then run Select * from Events in SQL. You should see an event showing which of the three pages was randomly selected. Clicking 'Run Many' will simply do the same x number of times, where x is the number in the text box to the right of the button. You will see x records in the database after hitting this button
The other two buttons are 'interim' and 'email'. Interim simply records an event saying that a second page in the website was reached, you'll see how to implement this in the ASP example later - the idea being that the original landing page that the user came in on can be tied to a page later on in the session thanks to a session variable
Getting going in ASP NET
To get up and running in ASP NET we need to do the following
1. Add a connection string into your web config file
<add name="Marketing" connectionString="Data Source=MyDB;Initial Catalog=Marketing;Integrated Security=true;" providerName="System.Data.SqlClient" />
2. Add the dll SplitTester into the bin directory of your website. You need the dll called SplitTesting.dll found in the bin/debug directory under SplitTesting
3. Add a module in the App_Code section which will dish out an instance of 'Tester' to any web pages which need it. Doing it this way allows you to lazily call up the Tester object from anywhere within the page lifetime and know that you are sharing one instance
Public Class SplitTesterContext
Public Shared Function GetTester() As Tester
If Not HttpContext.Current.Items.Contains("Tester") Then
Dim conn As String = WebConfigurationManager.ConnectionStrings("Marketing").ConnectionString
Dim ts As New Tester(conn)
Usage in web pages
Okay, if you've got the three things in place above this section, we should be able to start serving up some random landing pages. Let's say that you default page in a given directory is where your customers will be arriving from an advertisement. This page will never be served up, we just put the following code into the load event
'in the load event, SplitTester will redirect to our landing page
Protected Sub Page_Load(sender As Object, e As System.EventArgs) Handles Me.Load
If Not Page.IsPostBack Then
Dim tester As Tester = SplitTesterContext.GetTester
tester.Scheme = "JustAName"
Dim page As Page = tester.GetTarget
Session("LandingPage") = page.Address
In the load event, a 'tester' class is retrieved and the pages to which the customer could be directed are given to the tester class. When '
GetTarget' is called, one of the pages is returned at random and an event is written into the database to say which one was served up.
Assuming that your lander pages then usher your customers to your home page, you could have the following code in the load event of your home page to record their arrival there
Dim tester As Tester = SplitTesterContext.GetTester
tester.Scheme = "YourICE"
An event will be written showing which page the customer came from.
Points of Interest
Of course, this solution is simple in the extreme, but it solves a real world problem for me. It most certainly could be developed further, and if anybody does I would be pleased to see it in a more advanced state.
If anybody can't figure out quite how to develope it further but might need a tip or two on how, please drop a comment, I'm pretty proactive at replying
Original version uploaded 19th August 2014