Landing Page Optimization, Back Button Buzz Kill, & MultiVariate Testing

Nov 11, 2008 - 6:58 pm 1 by
Filed Under PubCon 2008

Moderated by Christine Churchill

We are live blogging this session from Salon B @ the Las Vegas Convention Center, PubCon 2008. Great ad copy is not enough in itself, absent effective conversion on the landing page. This panel discussed tips and tricks to "clean up" landing pages for enhanced performance, better conversion and great usability.

Brad Geddes, Director of Search Engine Marketing, kicked things off. It's getting sweaty and serious her e @ PubCon as afternoon sets in. He's talking about "testing traffic, where to send the visitor."

Sometimes You Can Throw Out Conventional Wisdom
Informational queries are about the customer asking a question. He shows the example of "Candle burning times," sending the traffic to a comparison page vs. a product page. The comparison page is much more effective, which is different than many PPCs teach.

Local business queries, like kitchen remodeling, might offer choices like "about us" or a "kitchen remodeling page". Often the "about us" page converts better because validation of trust converts better than products. Again, that's not how we've always thought about things.

Narrow theme sites like "Chicago nanny services" returns better results for the homepage for the "nannies and families" site--as opposed to the "Chicago nanny page" where one can view Chicago resumes. Against conventional wisdom, the homepage converts better. Merchant accounts often end up on a form page. However, sending the traffic to a "compare options" page to showcase different programs, with information and links to forms might work better. All of these examples defy conventional wisdom and focus on the dialog with the customer.

Brad suggests that we continue the selling and branding process after the conversion. Re-market to the "thank you" page with loyalty programs, email sign up or suggested products.

The Total Consumer
Offline consumer behavior reflects online. Map out real life activities like "Monday before second payday." Nobody's buying things. Second payday of the month, that's when customers might be buying things. So at the beginning of the month, use a newsletter tactic offering a discount. Run the email right before people get paid. At the end of the month go for selling more expensive products, when customers have more disposable cash.

It's not just the page layout, however the layout is very important. Test where to send the traffic. Test changing conversion hook when necessary. Don 't forget to also test ad copy in conjunction with the landing page. As marketers we are all wired showcase benefits to the product user. It's highly effective to showcase benefits to the shopper, like gift cards and discounts.

Kate Morris, Search Engine Marketing Manager, RateGenius is speaking on the basics...landing page "necessities."
Call To Action! Do not have a landing page without a call to action. She flagged this as the most important takeaway and highlights several case studies that fall down in this area. Keep your forms as short as possible. The general rule is to not ask questions that don't need to be asked. She is showing a page that is very text heavy.

Your call to action should always be "above the fold." This means to place it on the page in the first line of site. Make the content relevant. Give them what they're searching for."Make the content relevant!" She shows example after example.

Be brief, people have short attention spans. Avoid "Back Button Buzz Kills." If users are looking for information, then give them the information. It's SO basic. The exception for the 'brief rule" is when detailed information is sought. White space can be your friend when used effectively for applied design. "If you have a button, then make it look like a button" and use pictures like a "roadmaps."

There are 2 schools of thought regarding navigation on a PPC landing page, keep them prisoner or let them roam the site. The correct answer is to test both scenarios to find out for sure what really works. And of course, never start a campaign without tracking. "You will lose SO much money if your don't track your campaigns." Benchmark conversion against other campaigns.

Watch the bounce rate and keep in mind that it's relative to the product. 30% is awesome, 50% OK and over 70%, it's time to test and revise. Use Google Analytics or the CrazyEgg overlay feature to see what links are followed on your site.

Lily Chiu, Senior Sales Engineer, Omniture is speaking. Her .ppt deck is called "Every Page Is a Landing Page." She gives the standard definition of optimization, "making the best of anything." Segmentation and relevance are the two key focuses for conversation optimization. Divide your audience to where it makes an impact and deliver relevance to foster engagement. "Deliver the right content to the right searcher at the right time."

Connect your on-site experience by trying to optimize the end to end customer experience. Think about the offsite experience (like an ad) being the "start" of the user experience. She's started to see a lot more of a siloed optimization approach, where various campaign nodes do not "talk" to each other.

She shows a McCain ad vs an Obama ad. One was a fundraising form, with a below the fold call to action, and the other a tax cut calculator. The calculator engaged users and the Obama landing page completely meets the visitor's intent of answering the ads promise. The tool helps the searcher find out how his/her taxes would be affected by giving personal information. The interesting fact here is that there is a wealth of information here provided by the user-- like income, dependents, zip code, email address, mortgage balances, saving for retirement. [Marty note: Obama totally smoked McCain on the Internet.]

A/B (Multivariate) testing is rapidly becoming the norm. A show of hands to Lily's poll indicated that most of the room does. She says to take action by uncovering problems, testing content, segmenting, and delivering relevant content. We need to do more with less. Tests and targets are tasty on their own, but together they become more powerful.

Fight Inertia, start simple, know your end goal and define your hypothesis. Test theories and create distinct alternatives. Lily is showing very compelling examples of multivariate testing patterns, drilled down into deep analytics for actionable insight. At the end of the day, proper landing page testing is all about a massive commitment to probing, asking deep questions, plugging into the placement of words and objects on the page.

Which combination of landing page and ads resulted in the highest margin? What can we try differently? How can we allocate different regions on the page to dedicate key placement of objects and words, to reinforce the intent and referral source of the user. She is showing landing page segmentation based on eHarmony (one of her clients). Because the client has a lot of information about the person seeing the page, they truly tailor the landing pages by demographics.

Start with tools and information about customers. Make sure that if someone starts a campaign on the acquisition side, make sure folks on the site side know about it. Stay ahead of the curve. "Hope is not a strategy."

Marty Weintraub is President of aimClear, an Internet Focused Advertising Agency in Duluth, Minnesota


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