This is now the third in a series of three blog posts, providing a comprehensive overview of landing page optimization. The first post discussed laid out the 5 tenants for effective online selling. The second applied those concepts to design, marketing and implementation best practices. We are now ready to discuss how testing analysis form the basis of a on-going optimization methodology.
Even though there are known landing page optimization best-practices, and heuristic models for usability that guide us, testing is still at the heart of any effective optimization campaign. It’s a process. And the truth is that all of rules of thumb are just like any other advice in life – half true at best. At best you could argue that these rules are true some or most of the time. No matter how great of an expert one is at site optimization, even the best minds in this space often find themselves surprised at what’s working, as evidenced by the success of sites like WhichTestWon.com, industry experts come to socialize and guess which landing page will win.
Thus what truly separates an expert from a novice is the systematic methods by which they arrive at an optimized page, more than anything else. Think in terms of what a build > Measure > Learn feedback loop in which you build a landing page using best-practices to begin, then test it against a few other variants, and analyze the results to uncover what’s working.
Based upon this effort, you not only determined which of your variants was stronger, hopefully you’ve revised your knowledge of what works for your target demographic, so that you can build upon it for the next batch of variants that you will test. This process repeats until you’re convinced that you’ve optimized sufficiently, or that the law of diminishing returns catches up with you.
To setup your own testing process, you need to properly instrument your site with Analytics tools, and site optimization tools. Let’s discuss each on of these:
The first step is to properly instrument your site with Analytics, so that you can perform behavioral analysis after a test has run. There are number of tools such as Google Analytics and Adobe Site Catalyst (aka Omniture) that will suffice and allow you to see who came to your page, what keywords they may have been searching how long they stayed, and where they went from there. You can pass tags also to identify campaigns and thus attribute conversions accordingly. Goals can be defined as well that you can track against your attributed campaigns to uncover the cost of customer acquisition and return on ad spend (ROAS).
There are still other complimentary analytics tools that may make sense at times. For simple landing page optimization, you might also consider looking at CrazyEgg.com, as it provides a simple heat map to indicate where the mouse went on your page, thus indicating areas of focus. If you’re looking at site wide and conversion optimization, a lifecycle analytics tool such as ClickTale allows you to track (anonymously) the entire session on your sit, in detail. Careful study can help you to uncover bottlenecks in your sales funnel that can be corrected for significant gains in profit and ROAS.
Always Be Testing
Separate from analytics tools, there is another class of tools that specifically manage systematic testing of content variations. Tools such as Google’s Website Optimizer (GWO), Adobe’s Experience Management, Unbounce and others, enable you to systematically test variations of a page and graduate the winner of a test to primary status.
A/B Testing provides a simple approach to compare different versions of a page whereas Multivariate Testing (MVT) testing variants of specific tagged elements within a page, such as swapping out a headline, image, or button. Internet marketing companies that are really great at this stuff, make variant testing a regular part of their process and it is not uncommon to be running a dozen or more variants at any given time in these organizations. Internet marketing companies who excel at this stuff, are regularly testing as a matter of process, and it is not uncommon to be running a dozen or more variants at any given time.
So there you have it. After three lengthy blog posts, you now have a fairly complete overview of landing page optimization. At a very high level, the goals are to provide a simple and consistent user experience and to remove barriers from achieving our goal, such as opportunities for distraction and trust issues. To execute on these goals, do research to better understand your demographic and the nuances of exactly what they’re looking for. You can then respond with more effective marketing copy and improved design that takes advantage of layout for focus, and images to invoke emotion.
Be aware of implementation issues that could handicap your success such as load time, relevance, and SEO accessibility, particularly if dealing with Google AdWords. And above all else, instrument your site with analytics to gain visibility into what “is* on your site, and make testing and incremental refinement a matter of process, to discover what *could be*. If you can follow these steps and make a commitment to testing as a matter of process, then congratulations – you’re already well on your way to seeing double, possibly even triple digit gains in returns on ad spend.
Part 3 of a 3-part series on Landing Page Optimization