Testing the content on your website is one of the most significant opportunities to drive more conversions.

Landing pages, product pages and pages in the funnel that don’t convert well can be improved for profit.

Direct mail marketers were honing their copywriting skills in just this way through most of the 20th century, keeping the copy that worked and binning that which didn’t. The web closes the loop on this process and allows on-site marketers to learn exactly what drives sales.

Everything on a site should be tested, from the headlines through to the background colours and proceed buttons, it all contributes to the conversion rate. If you want to discover the aspect of your product or service that most appeals to visitors then try three different approaches with live visitors, discover a winner and make that your default page.

It pays to start big with testing then refine the smaller details later; make fairly fundamental changes to see large uplifts and understand what your customers and prospective customers really react well to. A good place to begin is page structure, headlines and primary calls to action  through your site.

Even on a highly optimised site, less than 30% of visitors will read past a headline so unless it’s spot on, the rest of the page and the rest of your site may as well not be there. Test a number of different approaches to the layout, headline and call to action.

For example there are a handful of classic headlines which are renowned for their success at engaging visitors. Try making a departure from your regular style and using a headline that connects with the visitor and the need that your offer is going to address. “How to…”, “If… Then…” and “Who else wants to…” might be a departure from your norm but can be very successful at getting visitors to read more. In determining headlines that should be tested, put yourself into the visitor’s mindset and link your headlines with the desires that you’re going to address.

With a winning headline and call to action in place, the images that dominate your landing pages and the proceed solicits should be tested. You will be surprised by the sales uplift that can be achieved by simply testing three different variations of these elements. Next, move down into the subtleties of the wording of supportive copy, the default options within form processes and even the font, size and colour of text in both headlines and body.

Every change will have an effect on your conversion rate; big or small. With competition for traffic online hotter than ever, it’s essential that your pages are more engaging than those of your competitors! If they’re testing and you’re not, you will be left by the wayside.

Mark Simpson is the MD of Maxymiser.

Mark Simpson

Published 2 July, 2008 by Mark Simpson

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Comments (1)

Richard Hartigan

Richard Hartigan, Industry Manager at Google

Whenever conducting multivariate testing, it is necessary to understand the external macro factors that may affect conversion. For example, the changing economic climate may affect users propensity to act in a certain manner at a particular time.

Testing tools allow for large sample testing and enable website owners to understand their drop-off points and optimise accordingly. But it is also good to speak to real people.

Recently we embarked on a plan to recruit all stakeholders that had provide feedback on a particular website to become future testers. These people are generally passionate about a brand and so require only less of an incentive to get involved in progressing it.

For example, our company receptionist recently gave me a few home truths about a website we operate. She has been fielding the complaints from customers that did not want to go down the customer services route. We have now asked her to help with future testing and are already looking to set up a better feedback mechanism.

If you combine this feedback with the very good qualitative analysis from testing organisations such as Maxymiser, then you can obtain a more holistic view of the site performance that is vital for in order to make meaningful plans.

about 10 years ago

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