3 posts on 3 topics

6 03 2008

Edit: I fixed all the links in this post.  Copy and pasting is getting the best of me!

I recently came across a few great posts that I enjoyed and wanted to pass onto you all. The first is from Tim Ash, who has written a great book on Landing Page Optimization. One of his more recent entries discusses how to write effective copy to increase conversions.

One of my favorite bloggers, Avinash Kaushik tells marketers to embarrass their managers in order to succeed at their campaigns. Testing tops that list of course, but his other techniques are great methods at “working the system.”

Lastly, Lenny de Rooy, wrote a guest post at SEO Scoop about 5 misconceptions of Google Web Optimizer. It goes slightly beyond just GWO itself and into testing methodology





3 ways to maximize PPC and Landing Page Optimization

7 02 2008

New URL testingblog.widemile.com

Quality PPC and LPO campaigns are key to great conversion rates. If either of them are optimized, you might get good results, but with both of them optimized, your gains are exponential. There are a few pitfalls in optimizing them both though, even with good intentions you may end up confusing your results rather than getting results.

PPC and Landing Page Optimization

Here are 3 methods to effectively optimize your PPC and landing pages:

  1. Do one at a time: Test out your new PPC strategy, but wait until your landing page testing is done. Changing your PPC means you’re changing the audience, both in demographics and expectations. This will impact your landing page testing. Once you find a winning PPC campaign, test the same messaging on your landing page. This is the easiest way to optimize both, but the next two are better ways to go.
  2. Do them simultaneously: If you are testing 2 PPC strategies, create 2 separate landing page tests to match the respective campaigns and drive traffic solely to the matching test. This avoids biasing the PPC that better matches your landing page.
  3. Segment all the way through: For segments you know you’re going to have, make them go to different landing pages. Test your pages and separately track how each segment performs. Sometimes all your segments respond best to the same landing page, but often times your segments want something different and it’ll show in your testing results. Also, if you’re doing #2 and realize that the ROI is good enough for both campaigns, break it out and optimize them separately.

These are basic, but very effective methods to maximize testing both your PPC and landing pages. If you want to get actual and sustainable results, you have to control as many variables as possible. Only when you can trust your data, will it perform how you expect. Follow any of these methods and you’ll be on your way to higher conversions.





Get Certified in Landing Page Optimization

30 01 2008

After 4 months, I finally received certification via the *breath in* Marketing Experiments Certification Course on Landing Page Optimization – Subscription Path Track.

Marketing Experiments Logo

If you already follow Marketing Experiments, much of the material they put out for free is discussed in the class (although in greater depth.) Flint McClaughlin, who runs Marketing Experiments, knows testing and optimization very well, but the class could be stronger. Taking the class, training at Widemile and working with clients simultaneously has taught me a lot, very quickly, so as the class went on, I wasn’t learning as much. Those of you who don’t have the benefit of being surrounded by testing pros, probably will get a lot more out of it.

In addition, sometimes the number of conversions for their case studies are quite low, which leads me to question some of the testing numbers. I’m sure they got lifts, but their numbers are a little outrageous at times and, as my boss Frans brings up, seem to not account for seasonality.

Despite all that, I’d definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to get into or needs to learn how to make better landing pages. They offer many other certification classes and while I can’t really say how good the other classes are, I have a strong feeling that they are worthwhile too.

Regardless if you do or don’t want to take the class, you should take the time to learn their conversion index formula. It’s the overarching idea of the class and really helps you think in a systematic way about what should be improved on your pages and funnels. The conversion index formula is:

Marketing Experiments Conversion Index

C is the probability of conversion, so this formula deals with variables that cause visitors to convert or not convert. Here’s the quick rundown of each letter:

  • m – motivation of the visitor
  • v – your value proposition
  • i – incentive to convert
  • f – friction of the process
  • a – anxiety about converting

I don’t want to go into too much depth, but I will mention that my favorites are incentive and friction. They are together in the equation because they counteract each other. You use incentives to overcome the friction of the page. So offering your visitors a white paper helps them deal with giving up their name and e-mail address to you. Visitors know they are going to get a call or e-mail when they give you info, but you have to give them reasons to give it to you.

An example of this that most of you have probably experienced as an internet user is when you find a great deal on a badly designed website. Even if it’s tough to get through the checkout process (friction), you’re likely to finish it since it is a great deal (incentive).

One of things I’ve learned is that making website changes is rarely a streamlined and easy process. The best situation would obviously be to have good incentives and low friction, but you can’t always improve everything because of office politics, technical reasons, lack of resources or numerous other things. So by using this formula and keeping these things in mind, you have multiple ways to attack problems either offensively (increase incentives, value proposition, focus on user motivation) or defensively (decrease friction and anxiety).





Doubling conversion rates: MarketingSherpa case study

23 01 2008
MarketingSherpa Logo

MarketingSherpa is giving us a lot of love recently with The Weather Channel case study and now one on Smartsheet. If you were too shy to sign up for our case study on the Widemile website, then please check out the one at MarketingSherpa.

I especially like the last 4 points in the story:

#1. Don’t sit pat on your conversion rates. Colacurcio didn’t know that her original 5%-7% was above the industry average going in and is glad she didn’t. “If I would have said, ‘My conversion rate is pretty good’ and done nothing, I would have totally missed the opportunity to double it.”

#2. Conducting just a few multivariate test and applying them to a greater number of landing pages works. Simply put, you don’t have to test each landing page individually. “Sometimes it seems overwhelming when you think of multivariate testing, but you can cut corners. There are a lot of things that are low-hanging fruit — things that can be applied across landing pages.”

#3. Redesigning shouldn’t stop with your team’s new ideas. “You really have to get your organization into the mindset: ‘We are testing. We are not just going to spit out the next five Web pages.’ ”

#4. Even if your higher-ups are impressed with the initial results, Colacurcio says, marketers should expect to face organizational barriers when they start their second round of testing.

Don’t forget to check out the before and after in the creative samples.

If none of that catches your eye, Janet Meiners at MarketingPilgrim wrote a great summary on the case study.  She also makes a great point that, “I’ve been in heated debates about the best course of action but testing works best – assuming you’re humble enough to go with the data over your ego.

Trust your data and watch your numbers build your ego.





Test nothing and get results

18 01 2008
Test Nothing

Now this is a blog about testing right? So why test nothing? Because nothing is powerful.

I don’t mean don’t test at all, I mean test having less on your page. Those awesome sub headlines your copywriter created? Or those testimonials? Your audience might not care or even look at them.

Best practices say to use trust logos, reviews, awards and a whole lot of other content, but you never know if it really helps. In fact, one of the biggest lifts ever at Widemile, came from removing everything but the core material on the page. One hero shot, one headline, one description and one button.

It was plain and simple.

To me and everyone else, it was an empty page filled with white space, but it converted at an extremely high rate compared to the previous page. Everyone at my office and at our client’s couldn’t believe it was the optimal page, but we couldn’t argue with the data.

While this might be an extreme example, it also is an example of the opportunities you may be missing if you don’t test turning off (hiding) elements on your page. So don’t just test something, test nothing too.





225% Lift MarketingSherpa Case Study

9 01 2008

New URL testingblog.widemile.com

One of our good clients The Weather Channel were invited by MarketingSherpa to do a case study on a landing page optimization campaign we did with them. This was a really interesting page with a lot of great learnings and obviously with that high of a lift, it was very successful. Check out the case study here and make sure you look at the creative samples.

Notify original and optimized

One of the biggest things was that the flash banner out performed the static banner, which best practices typically argue against using flash banners. Not only did it out perform the static banner, but it was one of the most influential items on the page.





Why always optimize landing pages?

19 12 2007

Sometimes people ask me why landing pages are such popular targets for optimization and testing. Why not optimize a home page? A product page?

Actually, we can optimize those kinds of pages, but almost all businesses come to us with a landing page that needs help. Beyond the demand for landing page testing though, is the fact that landing pages inherently are fit for testing. Let me explain.

Widemile LPO Landing Page
One of Widemile’s landing pages

The strength of multivariate and split testing is in pulling out the best page possible for what you want to do. With a homepage you have multiple things you want to do (e.g. show your products, company history, customer service, get people to spend X minutes browsing) and with a product page you are typically working with a CMS template for your whole site. Those factors complicate things a bit since you have to figure out what counts as improvement for the homepage and for the product page, you have to work with a CMS system and make changes that improve the majority of products pages using that template.

These things are not impossible to do or even difficult in many situations, but a landing page is usually totally independent of everything and has only one goal.

In a technical sense, a landing page is more simple to deal with. In a measurement sense you only need to improve one metric, the conversion. With a landing page, we don’t have to make copy and creative that works okay for all situations, we simply make copy and creative that is optimal for one situation.

This makes testing really fun and easy, since you can test and find out who your audience really is and what causes them to convert.

Now that I’ve answered this question, in the future I’ll move onto a more interesting post: Why you should optimize everything else too.