Toward the end of last year, Active Network, a technology and media company specializing in online registration and event management software, began a testing and optimization program on the website of one of its brands, RegOnline.
This week’s MarketingSherpa B2B newsletter article is a look at that entire program, but for this blog post I want to highlight an interesting test conducted in the middle of the cycle. This particular test deserves a closer look because it created impressive results, but more importantly, it illustrates why it is important to be flexible with a testing program.
At the beginning of Active Network’s testing cycle, the tests were conducted on the RegOnline homepage. The problem was that tested treatments were not producing positive results — and the homepage accounts for about 90% of RegOnline’s revenue.
Essentially, with the treatments being outperformed by the control, the homepage tests were hurting RegOnline’s bottom line.
This caused concern and discouragement with both the testing team and top-level management at Active Network.
A decision was made to begin testing other channels, such as landing pages, PPC ad copy and email messaging, to hopefully find some learnings that could inform future homepage tests. Another benefit was because these other channels had a more singular purpose than the homepage, it was easier to design a test to get a “win” and ease some of the discouragement.
Lauren Guinn, Director Online Marketing, Active Network, explains, “Because there is so much business risk testing on our homepage, we shifted to smaller tests on other channels and then applied these learnings to big tests on our homepage.”
Testing a landing page
After two rounds of homepage testing that produced learning, but no lift in results, the next test was conducted on an SEO landing page, pitting the existing page as the control against one treatment featuring a radical redesign.
The goal of the test was to increase qualified new accounts at RegOnline, the main research question was: what combined effect do on-page presentation elements and sign-up process elements have on conversions? The key performance indicators for this test were start rate and conversion rate.
The redesigned treatment featured a number of changes from the control:
- Navigation at the top of the page was removed, and key links were added to the bottom of the page
- Multiple calls-to-action were removed in favor of a single CTA
- Unsupportive imagery was removed
- The headline was changed to point-first based
- The body copy was optimized for readability
- The testimonial was updated
- A three-step sign-up process was utilized, compared to two-steps in the control
As you can see, the treatment beat the control in both start rate (the rate at which visitors started the multi-step process) and conversion rate (how many visitors actually finished the entire process).
The reason start rate and conversion remained the same for the control is that page featured a two-step sign-up process with literally no drop off on the second step (user name and password creation.)
The treatment added a third step before the user name and password creation asking for a phone number.
The test found that RegOnline visitors responded positively to an optimized presentation of value and process.
The testing team took this insight and utilized it in the next homepage test and finally achieved positive results in that channel, too. This winning outcome provided relief for the testing team, and helped get top management at Active Network back supporting the overall testing effort.