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Posts Tagged ‘landing page optimization’

Conversion Rate Optimization: Your peers’ top takeaways from Optimization Summit 2012

August 16th, 2012
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With B2B Summit 2012 right around the corner in Orlando, let’s take a quick look at your peers’ top takeaways from our last Summit – Optimization Summit 2012. In case you couldn’t be there, listen in to what fellow Web marketing directors and optimization managers learned at the Summit to help guide and prioritize your own A/B testing and landing page optimization efforts.

 


Here are some of the key takeaways. Feel free to use the links below to jump directly to these parts of the video …

0:34 – Celeste Parins of Mindvalley on value proposition

1:11 – Matt Silverstein of The Elevation Group on radical redesigns

1:40 – Matt Brutsche of Austin Search Marketing on getting into the mind of the customer

2:00 – Mike Weiss of Internet Sales Experts on understanding the customer’s path on your landing pages

2:42 – Ray Lam and Victoria Harben of the University of Denver on live optimization

3:03 – Suzette Kooyman of Enhance Your Net on taking a consumer-centric approach instead of a corporate approach

3:37 – Suzanne Axtell of O’Reilly Media on determining where to start testing and optimizing

4:10 – Reagan Miller of Financial Times on having a testing methodology

4:23 – Alan Markowitz of Ellie Mae on friction and anxiety points

4:50 – Diane Baker of netDirectMerchants on value proposition

 

Related Resources:

Optimization Summit 2012 Event Recap: 5 takeaways about test planning, executive buy-in and optimizing nonprofit marketing

Demand Generation: Optimization Summit 2012 wrap-up for B2B marketers

B2B Summit 2011: 5 takeaways on social media, lead generation, building a customer-centric approach, and more

Class Is In Session: Q&A with Web analytics professors about Optimization Summit 2012

August 14th, 2012
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You network with the most interesting people at a MarketingSherpa Summit, and Optimization Summit 2012 was no exception for me. I caught up with one of the top optimizers from Denmark and a nonprofit marketer heavily engaged in A/B testing, and I also met two professors in the increasingly popular Web analytics field.

With our next event, B2B Summit 2012 in Orlando, just around the corner, I wanted to take a moment to look back at our last event in today’s MarketingSherpa blog post and share an interview with those professors, who can provide a unique viewpoint on Internet marketing.

With their experience teaching others in the classroom and having to convey overall marketing principles, they are a step removed from the average in-the-trenches, brand-side marketers, overly focused on the “putting out today’s fire” crises that sap so many marketers’ attention.

And, since they’re not vendors of platform providers, well, they’re not trying to sell you on their unique marketing buzzword approach that just happens to map very nicely to the products and services they are trying to sell.

Ray Lam and Victoria Harben are adjunct faculty and teach Web Analytics, a graduate-level course in University College at the University of Denver. During Optimization Summit 2012, they live-tweeted the event to their students from @COMM4324.

 

MarketingSherpa: What were the top lessons you learned at Optimization Summit that you think could be helpful to brand-side marketers?

Victoria: The main point that was reiterated throughout Optimization Summit was to always test; don’t rely on assumptions, intuition, guesstimations, or theory — rather, get out there and test it. It’s always best to back up a hunch with data, and that’s exactly what the Summit instilled in me: test, test, test! We’re teaching a Web Analytics class at DU through the New Media and Internet Marketing program, and this is the first thing we tell our students.

Ray:  The top lesson I learned was Dr. Flint McGlaughlin’s conversion formula: C=4m+3v+2(i-f)-2a. Where m=motivation, v=clarity of value proposition (why), i=incentive to take action, f=friction elements of the process, and a=anxiety about entering the process. This simple formula helps marketers think about the different elements that need to be considered when constructing a landing page.

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…

The Boston Globe: An inside look at launching a paid content site

June 7th, 2012
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The Boston Globe has been in the content business for a long time. The newspaper published its first edition on March 4, 1872. Now in the digital age, it offers a free online version. At the end of last year, the company decided to include a premium, subscription-based digital version as well.

This blog post reveals an early, inside look at the approach The Boston Globe is taking to launch a paywall, complete with an honest look at a few bumps the marketing team hit along the way.

Peter Doucette, executive director of circulation, sales and marketing, The Boston Globe, will present further information about the newspaper’s marketing efforts at the MarketingSherpa and MarketingExperiments Optimization Summit in Denver, June 11-14.

 

THE CHALLENGE

The marketing challenge for The Boston Globe is maintaining two Internet offerings, one free and one paid.

Peter says the issue is to grow digital consumer revenue while at the same time maintain and grow digital advertising revenue.

“In the end, how do you take a prospect and turn them into a customer?” he asks.

  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…

The Indefensible Blog Post: Forget Charlie Sheen, here are 5 marketing lessons from marketers

July 5th, 2011
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I’m sure you’ve seen these blog posts before. They’re looking for a hook, so they throw a topical subject in the title to get you to click, and then share the deep marketing wisdom that you would naturally expect to learn from Charlie Sheen, The Bronx Zoo Cobra, and Justin Bieber.

I thought of this topic the other day because we actually did something I just knew we would never do on MarketingSherpa. We published those two proper nouns – Justin and Bieber – right next to each other.

In fairness, it was in an excellent email marketing case study about a very impressive trigger alert program, and Justin Bieber was only used as an example of search keywords this events company was targeting. But you better believe Senior Reporter Adam Sutton endured a relentless week of teasing for including the Biebs in his case study. There were the Photoshopped pictures. There were “Belieber” taunts.

Why? Because, and here is my indefensible blog post (with a hearty tip o’ the hat to Esquire magazine), marketers can’t learn anything from Justin Bieber. Or Lady Gaga. Or that kid who got his 15 minutes of fame for pretending to be in stuck in a weather balloon.

Think about it, what are 3 lessons from Charlie Sheen? 1. Be born to a famous dad. 2. Get a formulaic but highly rated sitcom. 3. Have an extremely weird but very public meltdown (using social media)

Does this really help your marketing campaigns? Get some ideas to generate more leads? Increase sales?

So, here’s the approach we take at MarketingSherpa. Perhaps the best people to learn marketing lessons from are…wait for it…actual marketers. That’s why we survey more than 10,000 marketers every year for our benchmark reports. That’s why we conduct more than 200 interviews every year for our free marketing newsletters. That’s why we invite dozens of marketers to present their case studies to their peers at our summits. And that’s why I’m writing this blog post today.

So, if I had to break down five marketing lessons I’ve learned from marketers, I would say…

1. Successful marketing comes from hard work, not “secrets” and “tricks”

Internet marketing is flat out hard work. The successful marketers I’ve seen go-to-market with a regimented marketing plan.

They understand what KPIs are key to their success – both the intermediate metrics that will help them make course corrections, as well as the key results that are critical to their business leaders.

They find ways to tear down artificial silos in their organization – between Sales and Marketing, between online marketing and offline marketing, between email marketing and social media marketing – to facilitate a cohesive funnel that drives customers to conversion.

They tame unwieldy, disjointed technology platforms to create tools that improve marketing campaigns and create clear, unified reports. They do this even though they don’t have a tech background. They do this even if it means having long conversations with IT about why Ubuntu is better than Windows.

But they don’t have “secrets to Internet marketing success.” And they don’t have “10 supercool tricks to boosting SEO.” They have war stories. And if you can get just a few minutes in their busy day to hear them, you just might learn something.

The battles are won in the trenches.

2. Your customers don’t care about your emails, your PPC ads, or even your TV campaign

They don’t even care about all that fun inbound stuff like your blog posts or YouTube videos. And they certainly don’t care about the latest features of your product, your mission statement, or your corporate structure.

They care about doing their jobs better. They care about having clean water for their kids. And they care about taking their wife out for a 12th anniversary dinner that she’ll never forget.

Never confuse a feature with a benefit. And never confuse a marketing “benefit” with what really matters to your customers.

3. Successful marketers have losses

This is marketing, folks. You don’t have to be one of the “crazy ones,” but you do need to push the limit on what your company thinks is possible.

As Theodore Roosevelt said, “There is no effort without error or shortcoming.”

If you don’t have losses – a “negative lift” on a test, a failed product launch – you’re not pushing hard enough. And if you don’t have losses, you’re not really learning anything. You’re just guessing.

The great thing about digital marketing is that it has never been easier to learn about your customers. You’ve got real-time data you can analyze and an endless possibility of tests you can run. Test two headlines you simply can’t decide between, two offers, two entirely different approaches against each other in a real-world, real-time environment and let your customers tell you which one is better. Test new landing pages against your top performers.

Sure, it’s scary, you might lose. But if you do it right, you’ll definitely learn.

4. Strategy is better than skill

This is something that I’ve heard Dr. Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director, MECLABS, say in almost every meeting I’ve had with him. Drill it into your team as well.

Marketers are all too used to having a goal placed in front of them – double leads, gain market share – and churning and burning and blasting and using every tool they can think of to hit that number. Just…one…more…email send…will do the trick.

Sometimes it helps to step back and look at the big picture. Is it worth scrapping and fighting for a tenth of a point of market share with your fiercest competitors? Are you inundating your lists with offers?

Take the time to step back from the marketing machine and determine what your value proposition truly is. Don’t dictate your value to your customers. Discover what they find valuable about your products and services. Why do they put their job on the line to hire your consultants? Why do they part with their precious cash to buy your products?

As with any job, you can work harder, or you can work smarter.

5. Be the customer advocate

As a marketer, you spend almost every waking moment making a proposition to the customer. That makes every customer your customer. So make sure your company comes through.

Stay in constant contact with customer service, product development, services, manufacturing, and sales to make sure you are truly serving the customer. What are customers complaining about? What are you doing right? How can you make their lives easier, better, smarter, more fun, more fulfilling? Are sales reps over promising? Does everyone understand the value proposition of your brands? Do you all speak with the same voice? Do you walk the walk and live the brand?

Hey, that’s no easy task. But if you’re looking for easy tasks, you’re in the wrong business. See point #1 above.

Your customer is empowered like never before in the history of commerce. Today, you must assume that every customer is a publisher as well. How would you react if you knew the editor of The Wall Street Journal was eating in your restaurant, trying on a suit in your store, or purchasing your software platform? There is no quicker way to sink your brand and your marketing campaign, and the huge amounts of time and money you have invested in them, than by ticking off the editor.

You know what you expect when you’re the customer. Under promise and over deliver.

And to over promise to you, my audience, my customer, I dug up a sixth lesson. But instead of telling you one more thing I’ve learned from you, I asked author and behavioral expert, Beverly Flaxington, what she’s learned from marketers. Beverly has built her career around understanding other people. Here’s what she had to say…

6. Provide your audience the context

In too many cases, a marketer develops information and materials based solely upon the data and information about a particular product or service. The marketing material reads like this: “We do this. This is what we do. This is how we do it.” It’s a great deal of data without a lot of context around why it is important to the targeted audience.

The missing component is the “So what?” What’s so important about how you do what you do? Why should someone care about it? What is it going to do for them and how will it do it? This goes deeper than the idea of selling benefits. It actually asks the marketer to create language that speaks TO an audience about their needs, and helps that audience to easily make a connection as to why what the marketer is proposing is good for them.

As you develop materials or write marketing copy, ask yourself the “So what?” question as you make statements and provide information. Think in terms of “This is good for our audience because…..” The process can be very eye-opening because instead of assuming that someone will get why what you’re saying is so important, you can more likely guarantee they will understand!

Thanks for reading today’s blog post. Stay tuned to the MarketingSherpa blog next week, where we’re going to talk about what marketing lessons you can learn from Michele Bachmann, New Mexico wildfires, and Greek debt.

Related Resources

Evidence-based Marketing: This blog post will not solve your most pressing marketing challenges…yet

Loyalty Marketing: How to get customers to stick around (and keep buying)

The Last Blog Post: How to succeed in an era of Transparent Marketing

The Last Blog Post: Marketers must embrace change


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

Marketing Optimization: 4 steps to discovering your value proposition and boosting conversions

May 20th, 2011
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Confession time…one of my favorite movies is the Will Ferrell classic, Elf. I love the scene where Buddy (the elf) sees a sign outside of a coffee shop announcing that it has “The World’s Best Cup of Coffee.”

It’s quite a value proposition and thanks to Buddy’s innocence (or ignorance) he barges into the shop and congratulates the entire staff for a job well done. The reason it’s so funny is because we know better. Even the staff at the coffee shop knows better.  To believe such a claim is ridiculous.

Yet many companies still have trouble avoiding such preposterous value propositions in their marketing.

According to a recent incentivized survey done by MarketingExperiments (MarketingSherpa’s sister company), 120 out of the 275 (30%) total business plans we reviewed had no real value proposition. Another 60% were categorized as having only limited or substantial value. Only 10% were considered to have a strong, unique value proposition.

In all, on our scale of zero to five, 90% of those surveyed were at or under a two.

It’s an unnerving statistic given that a well-stated value proposition has (according to our research) been proven to get better response rates on everything from business plans to landing pages.

So how do we craft a value prop that isn’t going to induce a side-splitting laugh in your audience?

Well, I have yet another confession to make…

I’m probably not the right person to ask. I honestly don’t have a lot of background with value proposition. But I DID recently attend a workshop on Landing Page Optimization with the Managing Director (CEO) of MECLABS, Dr. Flint McGlaughlin.

In it, he devoted a whole section to getting your value proposition straight. So I’m going to share what I learned there and share a little of my own commentary as well.

A true value prop isn’t dictated in a board room

According to Flint, the basic key to determining a strong value proposition for your company is understanding that a value prop is not usually determined, it is discovered.

It’s a simple shift in thinking that makes a huge difference. Sitting at your desk and trying to manufacture a shiny new value proposition that you think will sound good is usually pretty fruitless.

Prepare yourself for some hard thinking and investigation into the bowels of your company, as we explore four steps to discovering your value proposition…

1. Answer the question: If I am your ideal customer, why buy from you rather than your competitors?
Assuming it was true, “The World’s Best Cup of Coffee” could be an excellent value proposition. The ideal customer in this case is your typical Manhattan coffee drinker and the reason they should buy coffee there is obvious – it’s the best in the world.

The problem is, it’s not true. The modern consumer simply does not believe your overindulgent hype. So the ideal customer is put off and ends up without a reason to buy coffee there instead of the better-looking shop across the street.

Admittedly, this is an extreme example. Yet marketers make this mistake every day. You likely come across this marketing jargon-filled hype every day. Does a two-person B2B tech start-up really offer a scalable solution for Fortune 500 companies, for example? Just because you say it in your marketing material doesn’t make it true. And your savvy audience is well aware of this fact.

When you’re answering this question for your own value prop, it’s important to note here that you are putting yourself into your customer’s mind by answering as if you were them. So spit out the Kool-Aid and be a little skeptical.

2. Compare your answer with the claims of your main competitors.

Of course we all know that just about anywhere you go, there’s a coffee shop claiming to have the world’s best cup of coffee. Again, that’s part of the comedy of this scene.

If any of your competitors can say the same thing about their products or business as you without completely lying, you don’t have a strong value proposition.

While your mother probably told you how special you were, a unique snowflake unlike all the other kindergarteners in the world, the same can’t automatically be said about your product offering and company. Is it really unique? Or do people only buy from you on a lark or because they haven’t stumbled across your competitors yet?

3. Refine your value proposition until you can articulate it in a single, instantly credible sentence.

The problem with the coffee shop’s value proposition was that it wasn’t instantly credible. No one believes their coffee is the best coffee in the world because there’s no way to prove that.

Your value proposition must be instantly believable. A great way to do this is to add numbers to your value proposition. If that coffee shop had said something along the lines of, “9 out of 10 people preferred our coffee to Starbucks”…you’d be more likely to believe it.

Another strategy is to be as specific as possible. Let’s say you’re not quite there yet with the imaginary value proposition above. What if it said, “9 out of 10 people preferred our coffee to Starbucks in a double-blind taste test?”

The double-blind taste test adds a dimension of specificity that increases the credibility of the sentence.

4. In the end, you must test your value proposition.

No matter what you do to come up with a value proposition, there’s no way to guess what resonates the best with your audience. You need to test it.

Your value prop should be visible in every step of your sales process. Wherever you display it, test different phrasing, angles, and ideas to get deeper inside the mind of your customers.

The better you know what they find valuable, the better you can serve them.

The next stop of the MarketingExperiments Landing Page Optimization Workshop tour is on June 1 in Atlanta. It will also be taught by Dr. Flint McGlaughlin. Then our MECLABS team will take the workshop on the road to New York, San Francisco…and more cities to be announced.

Related Resources

B2B Marketing: On Occam’s razor and value propositions

Optimizing Landing Pages: 3 Keys to Increasing Conversion Rates

Powerful Value Propositions

Value Proposition: Our research team answers your questions

Homepage Optimization: No single metric will do

May 19th, 2011
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Landing pages get a lot of love. Here at MarketingSherpa and MarketingExperiments we often write about landing page optimization, and offer case studies on how marketers are testing and improving landing page performance. And landing pages deserve all that attention because often those pages are the direct connection between a marketing campaign and a closed deal. We think so highly of landing pages at MarketingSherpa we just released a publication dedicated to LPs — the 2011 Landing Page Optimization Benchmark Report.

The homepage is a channel, not a destination

But because landing pages command so much real and virtual ink, the homepage can seem neglected. The first thing to consider is the homepage is unique to a website. For companies that only offer one product or service, the homepage may be no different than a landing page.

But companies with many products, services, divisions, etc., must look at homepages as a drastically different animal than a landing page. Unlike the landing page where you want to get website visitors to the LP, the homepage is channel where your goal is to get the visitor through the page.

The homepage is possibly the toughest page on a website to test because it “serves many masters” and typically has multiple objectives to achieve.

The usual elements in a homepage to test do overlap with landing pages:

  • Eye path direction
  • Strength of value proposition
  • Color combination
  • Image relevance

And testing a homepage involves five basic steps:

Click to enlarge

You may notice one word features prominently in each step — objectives. Homepage objectives should be broken into three categories:

  1. Primary — these are long-term and should have high revenue potential
  2. Major — short-term and are typically tied to a marketing campaign or other internal need
  3. Minor — functionally necessary elements to the page such as navigation or legal copy

Taking a closer look at homepages, how they differ from landing pages and how tricky they are to actually test and optimize, caused one chart from the Landing Page Optimization Benchmark Report to really stand out.

Click to enlarge

Boris Grinkot, Associate Director of Product Development, MECLABS, is the author the Landing Page Optimization Benchmark Report and he took a few moments to share his thoughts on homepage optimization and metrics.

Before we get into the questions, here’s a quote from the report (I highlighted the final sentence):

A critical issue becomes the quality of the traffic that the homepage sends into the website. The quality of the traffic is broadly the degree of match between the visitor and the offer – in other words, the predisposition to convert. Reducing bounce rate may be a short-sighted key metric if more visitors get through, yet those are not the visitors that would ever be interested in becoming customers. Dedicating significant page real estate to a $10 gift card offer can explode the clickthrough rate (and conversely, minimize bounces), but it may turn away visitors exploring a multimillion dollar RFP.

In your LPO Benchmark Report, you mention the homepage is possibly the most difficult page for designing a test …

Boris Grinkot: Measurement on the homepage is complicated because so many things typically happen between it and the conversion step. The general point is that when looking at the funnel holistically, a test on the homepage can affect different metrics differently, and sometimes you can get contradictory results — bounce rate reduced = good, conversion rate reduced = bad.

The homepage as any entrance page acts as a filter, and changing it does not only linearly affect clickthroughs to the rest of the funnel, but can affect the quality of visitors that click through — in other words, the segments.

So, what metrics are most important when testing a homepage?

BG: It’s important that marketers monitor several different metrics to get a complete picture of what’s going on. Bounce rate or clickthrough rate measures what happens immediately on the homepage, or wherever it’s measured, but misses how this page affects the rest of the funnel. Overall conversion rate (CR) measures performance of the site as a whole, but ignores where the leaks might be.

More intricate measurement — such as using “active segments” or “goals” — can tell you what happens with visitors who viewed a particular page, meaning that a virtual segment is created based on what the visitor experienced. Segment-specific CR can be much more meaningful because it takes specific page(s) into account.

Boris Grinkot will be providing insights from his Landing Page Optimization Benchmark Report and moderating a panel on “Overcoming institutional barriers to optimization implementation” at the first MarketingSherpa Optimization Summit coming up June 1-3 in Atlanta.

Related Resources

Homepages Optimized web clinic

Homepage Optimization: How sharing ideas can lead to more diverse radical redesigns

Homepage Optimization: How a more logical eye-path led to 59% increase in conversions

Homepage Optimization: Radical redesign ideas for multivariable testing

B2C Testing: A discount airline looks to increase conversion

(Members library) — Office Depot Site Overhaul Lifts Conversions 10%: 7 Tactics to Target High-Impact Improvements