Landing Page Optimization Tactics: Show That LP Some TLC! #SESSF

Posted in Landing Pages, SES San Francisco

Welcome back to aimClear’s coverage of #SESSF! Listen up, marketers. Are you giving your landing page the TLC it deserves? You’re not?! Well optimized landing pages make the world of difference between regular old eyeballs on your site and true blue conversions. If you’ve got a low conversion rate on (because of?) your landing page, you are seriously missing out.

Lucky for the crowds at Search Engine Strategies San Francisco 2011, landing page pro Bryan Eisenberg was ready, willing and eager to lead panelists Nathan Richter, Strategic Services Director, Monetate and Joe Weller, Marketing Director, RealNetworks through a crash course in Landing Page Optimization. This session pulsed with actionable takeaways and stimulating statistics pulled from sweet A/B case studies. aimClear live-tweeted this session via @beebow. Read on, if your interest’s piqued. 

Bryan took the stage, and at his normal pace of 234,567 words per minute, welcomed the audience, introduced himself, and our speakers. Ah yes, and one of my favorite staggering statistics.

“For every $92 marketers spend on driving traffic to their site, they spend $1 on converting that traffic.”

Yow. With that, he handed over the mic to Joe Weller, who launched into his presentation by admitting he’s a recovering AdWords junkie. He used to spend countless hours in AdWords, devising killer search PPC campaigns, all aimed at getting traffic to Website X. From this obsessive experience, he took away two pivotal lessons, namely:

  1. The biggest opportunity of paid search is what happens after the click.
  2. Landing page optimization can bring continual improvements to conversion rates.

Joe led us through a righteous case study of one of his company’s software products, SuperPass. This was kind of a Romeo & Juliet style story, in that– before we saw what went into this case study, we saw the results. Joe shared a Conversion Rate Improvements chart. It began at “0” in Q3 ’09. It soared to an 490% increase in Q2 2011. *Wipes brow*

Why, and how, did this massive increase actually happen?

Here’s a breakdown:

  • Two years ago, Joe met Tim Ash (SiteTuners), who schooled him in landing page optimization.
  • Joe returned to the shop eager to implement & test what SiteTurners had to offer.
  • A/B testing showed it was very successful.
  • SiteTurners template testing took place in Q4 ’09. The increase in CR began immediately. It was slow, but steady.
  • In between Q2 & Q3 ’10, Joe did some in-house LP testing. The increase continued.
  • In Q4 ’10, Joe took a Market Motive Course (nod to Bryan Eisenberg, among others), began testing better things, implementing deeper tactics. Success skyrocketed.

When all was said and done, to reemphasize, Joe saw a 490% increase in conversion rate from Q3 ’09 to present. Joe mentioned that one of the most valuable takeaways from this whole process was that his whole team (from creative to tech & dev) was speaking the same language. (In other words, there was less push-back from all sides when Joe wanted to implement some LP layout changes.)

From the A test to the B test, the SuperPass landing page had some noteworthy changes.

  • No more photos of movies (that rotated)
  • Strong headline in call to action box
  • Big red button, that contrasted nicely against a gold background

From A to B, there was a 37% increase in CR. Not bad! This whet Joe & his team’s appetite for more landing page optimization.

In the next test, they added in more credibility indicators. (Super secret sauce tip: Trust Badges WORK!) In this case, SuperPass added a McAfee security badge to the landing page. But they didn’t just test having the badge vs. not having the badge. They tested having it be clickable and non-clickable. The results?

  • The non-clickable logo had a 29% increase in conversion rate.
  • For traffic incoming from paid, it worked better without the logo.
  • For traffic coming from affiliate, the clickable logo worked best. (Joe noted that this might be because traffic coming in via affiliate sources might be more skeptical, and feel comfortable verifying the validity of the site.)
  • For miscellaneous traffic, the non-clickable logo worked best.

Looking Beyond the Landing Page
Don’t forget to thread the same elements from your landing page through, for example, the “create an account” process. This means implementing the same header, same footer, same trust badge, etc. from start to finish. This can be tricky to accomplish, depending on your dev team :)

In Joe’s case, of the folks who got to the “sign up for a free trial” page, only 5% converted. His test goal was “simply” to increase this percentage.

  • Experience A – The Default Account Create Page.
  • Experience B – Added a McAfee badge, reinforcing the safety from the landing page.
  • The trust badge featured a photo of  the McAfee product, a black border around the trust badge, clip art of a safety lock, verbiage indicating it was a secure product, etc.

One big takeaway: Minimal order path improvements lead to large results.

  • Experience A Result = 53k visitors, 23k enter order path, 5% continue
  • Experience B Results = 53k visitors, 23k enter order path, 6% continue. Hey. That’s small, but better :)

Joe encouraged the audience to test, test, test for impact. We moved onto a case study of a landing page for the show Big Brother.

  • Experience A – Headline focused on live feeds, house guests, etc.
  • Experience B – Updated design moved around content boxes, just changed up the design.
  • Experience C – Added video, removed photos.
  • Results? Noticeable lift in conversion rate from A to C. Very small lift from A to B.

Test everything. Everything! Test with video, without video, with one button, with two buttons, with a partner page, a partner page with a button?

As it turned out in Joe’s case, the partner page with one button resulted in a 7% lift in conversion rate. Again – small improvements can make a huge difference.

Final takeaways:

  • Focus on the post-click
  • You can get continual improvements from landing page optimizations.
  • Look at segments, not the aggregate.
  • Get an outside perspective (e.g. the courses Joe took)

Joe handed the mic over to Nathan Richter, and away we went.

The Preparation
Opportunity lurks in every segment of every metric. Nathan advised starting with high volume or high value segments. Here are some segments to focus on:

  • Inbound – Search keyword/term, search engine, social referrer
  • Visitor Profile – Visitor brand affinity, prior purchase history, preferences, etc.
  • Time – When do they visit? When do they research?
  • Customer Groups – Behavior, geography, etc.

Personalizing the Site Experience
Don’t underestimate the power of customizing the site experience for the user. Take stock in their customer profile, the keywords that led them to your site. Tailor the landing page accordingly. Make them feel warm and fuzzy!

Nathan brought us though a case study for sample LP for Gear.com, a camping site that sells cool… gear. Initially, the landing page didn’t speak to the keyword that brought User A in (“waterproof jackets”).  Look, if you know what someone came looking for, reinforce it for them! Tell them, “We know that you know that you know that we know.”

If there is a huge banner taking up prime real estate on the landing page advertising XYZ, test adding an image of the product relating to the keyword that brought the user in (in this case, an awesome photo of a raincoat, in action!). Touch base with your merchandiser – what are the products you should be showcasing on the homepage that relate to the KW?

Message consistency leads to an average CR improvement of 5-20%. Not too shabby!

When dealing with a large amount of products, help the customer differentiate between them. Consider adding badges to various products that say “Top Rated!” … specifically if that same phrasing appeared in your ad copy (in this case, it did!).

Badging alone can impact conversion as high as 55%. Holy cannoli!

If the keyword that brought your customer in was a specific brand / material, consider using that as the badge instead of “Top Rated,” for example, “GORE-TEX.” (Pause for nostalgic Seinfeld moment.)

Geo-targeting is also a brilliant tactic. Got customers coming in to your site from Seattle? Add a badge on the landing page that emphasizes your “No Tax for Seattle Shoppers!”

Average conversion improvement range for emphasizing “TAX FREE!” is 5-15%

(Don’t forget, some cities have “tax free days” that take place in your city / region. Milk these! Run temporary deals in tandem with landing page designs on those days.)

Highlighting international shipping offers can impact conversion as high as 100%. ONE HUNDRED PERCENT!

All of these factors, mixed and matched (and tested!) on your new landing page can really rock the house (read: result in higher conversion rates). Victory!

“Make it a Landing Session”
Rather than just a standalone landing page, make that unique message thread through the whole user experience, from start to finish (conversion). Also think beyond the one product that the customer wants. You never know, they might want supplementary products, in our Gear.com case, like tents and hiking shoes. Still, keep that first product message on the page wherever your visitor goes (like in a banner at the top of the page).

Final takeaways & tactics to improve conversion:

  • Consistency
  • Badging
  • Tax free
  • International
  • Continually optimize through testing!

Big thanks to Joe & Nathan for a tip-top presentation brimming with actionable tactics for landing page optimization, & awesome job, Bryan, with the sequencing of the session. Stay tuned at aimClear blog for more coverage from Search Engine Strategies San Francisco.

  • Tom Wilkowske

    Lauren, thanks for the clarification on “tax free” … another scribe forgot to include context that it’s cities/munis who declare them…

  • Lauren Litwinka

    @Tom – For sure! Cheers :)

  • Mike Roberts

    I would’ve loved to get their input on Optimizely. I haven’t used it yet but it looks like an incredibly powerful tool for testing out damned near everything you’d want in an A/B Test. I eventually plan on running the idea past my boss and web team about trying it out for our landing pages. I’m constantly saddened by our horrible, horrible bounce rates.

  • Lauren Litwinka

    @Mike – That can be very frustrating, for sure. Godspeed with your future testings :)