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Landing Page Optimization: Which ninja turtle is your page?

April 12th, 2016
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Turtle SketchAssuming you don’t live in a shell, you have probably seen or heard of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. They’re the immensely popular superhero group that began as a comic in the 80s, and reached peak popularity in the 90s, and to this day, maintains a cult following with children and adults alike.

Even as fun and interesting as the premise is, we can still ask the question: Why have they stayed so popular over the years?

My take is it’s because of the characters.

The dynamic brothers, consisting of Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello and Michelangelo, have so much variety in their personalities, which allows them to approach problem-solving situations in any multitude of ways. This also allows for a lot of creative freedom on the creators’ end.

Personality is what captures an audience, as well as builds a brand.

Your landing page has, or can have, just as much personality as a character, whether you realize it or not. Below are four different characteristics of landing pages, named after the four different turtles:

  • Leo:  clear, simple, collected, peaceful
  • Raph:  aggressive, loud, attention-grabbing, urgent
  • Donnie:  calm, intelligent, factual, to-the-point
  • Mikey: fun, silly, lighthearted, nonchalant, social

Read more…

E-commerce: Why a forced checkout registration is never a good idea

October 8th, 2013
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“If you don’t eat yer meat, you can’t have any pudding.”

  • Pink Floyd, “Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)”

The song was an outlet for bassist Roger Waters to express his dislike for the forceful approach to learning that was popular in the British education system during his youth. This serves as a great analogy for why forcing your customers to register for accounts is not always a good idea.

In today’s MarketingSherpa Blog post, I want to demand that you allow your consumers to have their pudding, even if they don’t eat their meat.

But in some cases, I know that “required” just can’t be avoided, so I’ll also share two methods you can try when your company just won’t budge on “leaving the kids alone,” as the song goes.

 

Make buying easier for users with low motivation

Unless your brand has the near cult-like following of Apple or Coca-Cola, then it’s likely your website will play host to visitors with low motivation.

Now, what will chase away users – and metaphorical British schoolchildren – with low motivation faster than a 12-inch ruler?

Having to submit their information to yet another website!

If a new visitor – most likely an important demographic to your business’ revenue – is forced to commit to an account before they make a purchase on your site, then you could lose this new customer.

 

Avoid cart abandonment by keeping new users moving through your checkout

Another reason to avoid a required registration is the dreaded cart abandonment.

Combine a visitor with low motivation and subject them to a rather lengthy checkout process, and you are just adding another brick in the wall.

But sometimes, registered accounts simply can’t be avoided for whatever reason …

What do you do then?

Well, it’s all in how you approach a customer with your demands for their data. While I discourage required accounts, consider these two account registration methods from our research that you can test to hopefully increase your sales and minimize cart abandonment:

 

Method #1. Front-end option

Provide an optional account registration option at the beginning of the checkout process for users with high motivation or brand loyalty.

However, you may need to provide some incentives to convince that user the registration option is in their best interest.

 

Method #2. Back-end option

Most businesses still need to ask customers to fill out billing and shipping information during the checkout process.

Why not offer customers an opt-in to a registration after their information has been submitted?

This only requires one action from the visitor (a “yes” or “no” answer) and can be placed before or after the completion of the order.

You may also need some additional value copy to convince users that a registration option is in their best interest, but the beauty here is that you’re not making them jump through the same hoop twice.

No matter which option your pick, the goal here is testing your sales funnel to discover the most strategic place for a required account registration if you can’t avoid it.

  Read more…

Testing and Optimization: Radical website redesign program improves lead gen 89%

October 1st, 2013
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I’m live blogging at MarketingSherpa Lead Gen Summit 2013 in San Francisco, and attending a brand-side case study with Jacob Baldwin, Search Engine Marketing Manager, One Call Now.

To begin a testing and optimization program, Jacob launched a test on the website with a radical redesign, attempting to improve lead capture. The program was executed sequentially as opposed to A/B split testing.

Jacob said each new homepage version replaced the previous – the marketing team created new treatments and “flipped the switch” to learn how the page would perform.

An important insight from this testing approach  is there isn’t necessarily a need for a complex A/B or multivariate testing program.

The testing program was run on the homepage, and there were several objectives:

  • Increase conversion rate
  • Increase traffic
  • Reduce bounce rate
  • Provide niched messaging via enhanced segmentation

Here is the test control and original website:

 

And, here is the radical redesign treatment:

 

There were several key differences with the treatment:

  • Restructured navigation
  • Consolidated calls-to-action (CTAs)
  • Single value proposition – no competing headlines on the page
  • Trust indicators
  • Color palette
  • New tag line
  • New content

The original homepage, the control in this test, achieved 2.40% lead capture, and the radical redesign treatment pulled in 2.85% lead capture – an 18.75% lift over the control.

Jacob says the radical redesign was based on a revamped segmentation model.

“The new segmentation model drove the basic navigation structure and information architecture of the new homepage,” he explained.

This test with an early “win” was part of an ongoing optimization program. Not every test uncovered a lift, but every test did garner a discovery. The testing protocol involved taking the “winning” treatment and then refining the webpage layout, calls-to-action and length of the sign-up process for lead capture.

Through optimization, the sign-up process was shortened, and free trial sign-ups increased 55.3%, and the overall redesign of the entire website garnered a 89% lift in lead generation.

For the big takeaway, Jacob says, “Never stop improving. Complacency is lead capture optimization’s worst enemy and perfection is impossible. Complacency is conversion rate optimization’s worst enemy.”

  Read more…

A/B Testing: 4 tests from a crowdfunding site with double-digit results

July 26th, 2012
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Before you start an optimization program, you have to be clear on what you are trying to optimize. Or, as Brad Damphousse, the CEO of GoFundMe, a crowdfunding site, puts it, “What’s the one thing that really matters?”

The GoFundMe team determined that, for its site, it had to focus on making it easy for anyone to receive donations. To achieve that goal, the team would have to optimize for both of its customer segments (which are essentially on both sides of the transaction): users asking for donations and donors making those donations.

So, Brad launched a series of A/B tests to help convert more new users and to gain more donations from donors.

 

Test #1: Sell the service

For the first test, the team mapped out its funnel and identified where leaks were occurring.

 

Click to enlarge

Read more…

Site Search Solutions: 3 methods for implementing search on your site

July 17th, 2012
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In looking to improve the site search on MarketingSherpa (the site is 13 years old, and we have 2,991 case studies and articles, so an effective site search is crucial to helping you find marketing industry information to help you do your job better), the tech team here at MECLABS has explored different site search tools.

The team identified three predominant site search methods:

 

Method #1: Install a search engine on your own server                

In our case, we were specifically looking at PHP scripts, since we use that on MarketingSherpa.

In general, there are two types of PHP or Perl search engine scripts. One will search your entire website for the relevant article each time your visitor invokes the search engine. The other creates an index of your site, and only searches the index when the visitor uses the engine.

The former is easier to configure and use for the newcomer, but it quickly becomes sluggish when your website grows big. The latter is more efficient, but often requires you to remember to re-index your site each time you change your pages.

Advantages:

  • Customizable page results
  • No third-party advertisements
  • Re-index as needed
  • Re-indexing your site does not increase your bandwidth utilization, unless the script accesses your site via HTTP

Disadvantages:

  • Need PHP support on Web server
  • Will need to be able to edit PHP to configure your site search tool

Some PHP Search Engine scripts:

  Read more…

Event Recap: Notes from the Optimization Summit 2012 roundtable sessions

June 14th, 2012
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On the afternoon of the first day of the MarketingSherpa and MarketingExperiments Optimization Summit 2012 in Denver, attendees had the chance to interact with ten expert practitioners in a roundtable format.

Event participants were able to choose an expert, sit at the table for a quick presentation, and ask questions and interact with each other on the topic at hand for 15 minutes before switching to a new table and a new subject.

Topics at the different tables ranged from optimizing social media to high-impact call-to-action button copy that converts.

I wanted to provide SherpaBlog readers with a sample of some of the high-impact material the experts shared during this roundtable session. These examples of roundtable content illustrate the wide variety of advice Optimization Summit attendees were presented during the session.

 Here are some key takeaways from several of the roundtable experts:

  Read more…

Landing Page Optimization: 3 quick recommendations from the stage at Optimization Summit 2012

June 12th, 2012
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“What is the objective of this page?” Dr. Flint McGlaughlin asked audience member Maile Keone at the Pre-Optimization Summit LPO Workshop in Denver.

“To get people to call.”

The problem is the page isn’t achieving the objective — at least not to the extent the marketers (including Maile) at VacationRoost want it to.

The page was plastered on two huge screens at the front of the room here at the Denver Marriott Tech Center with 150 marketers from around the world scrutinizing it.

 

Click to enlarge

 

So, to help Maile and her team from VacationRoost, Dr. Flint McGlaughlin offered some recommendations for ways to improve the page.

To begin, we need to ask three critical questions from the perspective of the customer, Dr. McGlaughlin noted:

  1. Where am I?
  2. What can I do here?
  3. Why should I do it?

When we ask these questions, three optimization recommendations for the page come to mind.

  Read more…

Landing Page Optimization: Goodbye stock photos and Happy Man, hello social media

September 16th, 2011
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Back in my agency days, my art director, Steve Moran, and I penned a tongue-in-cheek ode to stock photography books that went something along the lines of …

I want to live a stock photo lifestyle
Attend meetings with happy people smiling around obsolete computers
And then jet off home to page 157
To laugh with my family during the golden hour

While a songwriter I am not, we were joking about how unlike reality the stock photo images are. And, while search on a stock image website has replaced stock photo books [Historical note for young marketers: Books were like websites printed on paper], one thing hasn’t changed – stock photos still seem phony.

Who are these people?

Especially in an age of social media. So while marketers might have gotten away with stock photos in print ads and on billboards for many years, we’ve become so accustomed to seeing real people on the same platform you are communicating your marketing messages.

In fact, I’m always momentarily surprised when I see my own picture on a website in the comments section – because I’m still logged into Facebook and that site uses Facebook Connect.

Phony stock photo people raise a red flag since we are all now on the Social Web.

Read more…

Optimization Summit: Tests with poor results can improve your marketing

June 3rd, 2011
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Day one of 2011 Optimization Summit has come and gone. Many of us have vertigo, either from the amount of content we absorbed, or the view from the rotating restaurant atop the Westin, the tallest hotel in the Western Hemisphere.

Yesterday’s sessions were rich with insights from experts and marketers presenting their experiences in optimization. I Dr. Flint McGlaughlinsay “experiences” because, as we saw, not every test improves results. But every valid test offers valuable insights.

Dr. Flint McGlaughlin, CEO & Managing Director of MECLABS, addressed this point head-on in the day’s first session. McGlaughlin presented examples of landing pages tests that brought greater than 50% declines in response.

Was Dr. McGlaughlin feeling woozy? Did he sit in the rotating restaurant too long before his session? Actually, no. Dr. McGlaughlin illustrated that even tests with poor results can reveal valuable insights about an audience.

“The goal of a test is to get a learning, not a lift. With enough learnings, you can get the real lift,” he said.

Landing Page results two tests

The above image features the tests McGlaughlin touched on. If you’ve seen such results, then you’ve probably asked yourself “well, what do we do now?” Part of the answer came from Boris Grinkot, Associate Director of Product Development, MarketingSherpa, in a later session. Grinkot mentioned two typical reasons landing page visitors do not convert:

1. The page does not offer what visitors want

2. The page does not clearly explain that you have what visitors want (or why they want it from you)

These two causes can help identify the causes of poor landing page performance, and what you should test to improve results.

With this in mind, the researchers tested a final treatment that featured drastically shorter copy. The idea was to get out of the way — to clearly show visitors that the site had what they wanted and to make it easy to get.

Landing page treatment 3

This treatment increased conversion rates by 78%. Why?

The marketing channel driving traffic to the page had already done the selling, Dr. McGlaughlin said. The page did not have to convince  visitors to convert — they were ready to convert. The previous treatments were impeding them.

The results of the previous two tests helped the researchers form this hypothesis and create the third treatment. Even though the two tests had abysmal results, they gave the team enough insights to identify a better treatment that would generate a real lift in response. So even tests with poor performance can improve your marketing — they just might not have improved it yet.

Related resources

Optimization Summit 2011

Landing Page Optimization: 2 charts describing the best page elements to test and how to test them

Marketing Research Chart: Top website objectives to determine optimization priorities and tactics

Landing Page Optimization: Minimizing bounce rate with clarity

Optimization and A/B Testing: Why words matter (for more than just SEO)

Members Library – Online Marketing: Website redesign leads to 476% increase in page views and 64% lower bounce rate

Members Library – Campaign Analysis: Optimization expert lists 5 tweaks to boost an email campaign’s conversions

Landing Page Optimization: 2 charts describing the best page elements to test and how to test them

May 31st, 2011
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Optimization testing can be daunting. With so many elements on a Web page, and so many ways each could be customized, knowing what to test and how to change it can feel like testing spaghetti the old college way (throw it at the ceiling and see if it sticks).

But optimization does not have to be daunting or random. Some marketers will receive a crash course in landing page optimization at our Optimization Summit this week. If you can’t make it, don’t fret. There’s always next year. In the meantime, MarketingSherpa just published the 2011 Landing Page Optimization Benchmark Report.

I pulled two charts from the report to give marketers some reference points when designing their tests. Hopefully they will help keep crusty pasta off your ceiling.

Landing Page Optimization Chart Top page elements to test

This chart lists the four page elements that rank most consistently as having a “very significant impact” across three optimization objectives. Note that a different page element ranks highest for each objective:

  • Direct lead gen: The highest performing element is the form layout at 44 percent
  • Incentivized lead: The highest performing element is the body copy at 41 percent
  • Ecommerce: The highest performing element is the image content at 43 percent

The chart lists only four of 17 page elements measured by our analysts, so there are many other elements that can be impactful in your tests. Your results may not mimic this data exactly, but this chart points to elements that other marketers are seeing as having the most impact.

Landing Page Optimization Chart Top Segmentation and Relevance Tactics

Once you select a page element to test, the big question becomes “how do we change it?” This chart lists tactics you can use to segment your audience and add more relevance to your optimization pages. Each tactic is ranked by its effectiveness, ease of use, and usage rate among marketers.

The far right of the chart features the most effective tactics: segmenting based on purchase history and other CRM data. Customizing landing pages to a customer’s purchase history appears to be an opportunity for marketers. It is the most-effective tactic listed and appears relatively easy to implement.

In the report, our analysts also point to another opportunity: messaging in the referring ad or page.

“Using the messaging in the referring ad or page can be especially easy to apply when the marketer also controls that messaging, making it a highly efficient way to segment,” according to the report.

However you go about your optimization tests, it is important that you test accurately and continuously learn from the results. The data in these charts can provide reference points to guide your plans, but only your team can uncover the best tactics to fit your audience and your brand.

Related resources

Optimization Summit 2011

2011 Landing Page Optimization Benchmark Report

Marketing Research Chart: Top website objectives to determine optimization priorities and tactics

Landing Page Optimization: Minimizing bounce rate with clarity

Optimization and A/B Testing: Why words matter (for more than just SEO)

Members Library — Campaign Analysis: Optimization expert lists 5 tweaks to boost an email campaign’s conversions

Members Library — Landing Page Optimization: How to serve 2 markets with 1 page

Members Library — How to Plan Landing Page Tests: 6 Steps to Guide Your Process