Landing Page Optimization - Guessing vs. Testing
Posted on 01.31.2008
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You can, within the limits of ethics and accuracy, represent yourself any way that you want on the Internet. Your landing page is not written on stone tablets. In fact, it is the most ethereal of objects — a set of bits that resides on a computer hard disk and is accessible to the world.
The only obstacles keeping you from creating more compelling landing pages could be just a lack of attention and imagination. You are as free as an artist in front of a blank canvas, but the promise of high-performing landing pages is often tempered by a fear of making things worse than they already are — it’s impossible to know in advance what will or won’t work, yet you are supposed to be the expert.
In truth, there are no individual landing page optimization experts. Sure, many people have extensive experience with landing page design such as copywriting, graphic design and usability. But no one person knows everything. As a company that regularly tests a variety of landing pages, we are amazed at how often our best ideas fail to outperform the corresponding elements of the original landing page. Even the most experienced experts will be wrong much of the time. The simple reason is that no one person can envision the diverse needs of all visitors who find your page. Even if the expert knew everything about every visitor, they would find that their needs are often contradictory. What convinces one person to act may be a turn-off to another.
But don’t worry — you already have access to thousands of willing “experts.” You are interacting with them on a daily basis. The real experts on the design of your landing pages are your website visitors.
You may never be able to answer why a specific visitor did or did not respond to your landing page. But there are ways to determine what your website visitors respond to on average. In fact, landing page optimization can be viewed as a giant online marketing laboratory. The actions (or inactions) of your “subjects” allow you to improve your appeal to a similar population of people.
Websites have three desirable properties as a testing laboratory:
High data rates:
Many websites have significant traffic rates and an ample supply of test subjects. In aggregate, all of your traffic sources result in a particular traffic mix unique to your website. With high website traffic volumes, statistical analysis allows you to find verifiably better landing pages and to be confident in your answer. The best versions are proven winners. Unlike previous designs, they are no longer based solely on subjective opinions. Nor are they the results of political popularity contests within your company.
Web analytics software supports the accurate tracking and recording of every interaction within your website. Each visit is recorded along with a mind-numbing amount of detailed information. Although Web analytics software is not perfect, it provides a standard of data collection accuracy that is almost unheard of in any other marketing medium.
Easy content changes:
Internet technology offers the ability to easily swap or modify the content that a particular website visitor sees. The content can be customized based on the source of the traffic, the specific capabilities of the visitor’s computer or Web browser software, their behavior during the particular visit, or their past history of interactions with your site. In other experimental environments it is very expensive and time-consuming to come up with an alternative version or prototype. On the Internet, countless website content variations can be created and managed at minimal cost for a landing page optimization test.
The key to landing page optimization is using all available sources of ideas for what to test. Don’t trust the opinions of experts alone. It is much better to explore among many design alternatives than to trust the opinions of one individual. After all, at the end of the day all that matters is what your audience responds to, not the credentials or backgrounds of the people who came up with the ideas for the new landing page elements to test.
About the Author: Tim Ash is
the president of SiteTuners.com, a landing page optimization company
that works on a performance basis. He is also the author of Landing Page
Optimization: The Definitive Guide To Testing and Tuning for Conversions
Discover the Tactics and Techniques of the Top Digital Enterprises
today in Website Magazine's Special Spring Issue - Web 100.
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