Internet Marketing: Landing page optimization for beginners

I feel there should be a support group … “Hello, my name is Dustin, and I’m an Internet marketing newbie.” I recently joined The MECLABS Conversion Group as a Research Analyst and up until a few months ago, I gave little thought to Internet marketing. I’ve bought a few (dozen) things online, signed up for some newsletters, even subscribed to a blog or two, but did I think about the why behind my decisions? Not really.

That’s not to say I’ve never thought about marketing at all. I did my undergraduate work in multinational business and economics and my graduate degree is in finance. So, I have some exposure to marketing, but I’ve always been more focused on an analytical approach to business decision making – so I’ve never thought marketing, which seems to be the antithesis of analytical, would be a good fit for me.

However, that is exactly what MarketingExperiments does. Our tests and experiments are aimed to be able to analyze data, read through the hype and trends, and find some truth buried in the numbers in order to create long-term value.

My time with the CIA
As much as I would love to hang by the landing skid of a helicopter, the CIA I’m talking about is the Conversion Index Analysis. This CIA is a thorough examination we provide to our Research Partners, which uses our conversion heuristic, just one part of our methodology to improve conversions and other Key Performance Indicators (KPIs):

C = 4m + 3v + 2(i-f) – 2a ©
Wherein:
C = Probability of conversion
m = Motivation of user (when)
v = Clarity of the value proposition (why)
i = Incentive to take action
f = Friction elements of process
a = Anxiety about entering information

By dealing with the heuristic piece by piece, you’re able to get in the mindset of your visitor/ potential customer and deal with the page as they would.

So far, some work I’ve done with the CIA includes analyzing motivation of visitors – are they getting what they’re expecting? Does it match what they’re looking for at that point in time?

Clarity of the value proposition is a very important part of any landing page. It’s important to not only state it clearly but ask yourself if the other elements support that value proposition. The customer wants to know not only why they want a product, but why they should get it from you.

Friction can be pretty straightforward– are you asking too much of your visitor? Is it difficult to navigate or are you asking them to enter a lengthy signup process? In addition to length, you must also ask yourself if there is any field or informational request that causes concern or anxiety. Do you explain that the visitor’s email address will not be used deceitfully?

Related:  When Not to Optimize: Getting into the high-performance zone for conversion optimization

You can think of all the elements of the conversion heuristic working together as a fulcrum or scale. Positive elements, such as matching visitor motivation and communication of value, are on one side of the scale. Negative elements, such as friction and anxiety, are on the other.

On a particular landing page, does the balance of the scale tip too much towards the negative or positive? If it’s tipped towards the negative elements, what steps can you take to tip it the other way? Would an incentive such as a free gift or free shipping help offset some of the friction you can’t get rid of?

All of these questions can be daunting. Writing, designing, and building a website is hard, a successful one even harder. However, at MarketingExperiments, we look at these questions as opportunities for testing. The team I’ve been working with in the labs is very good at looking for opportunities, even on already successful sites.

The approach
By analyzing the factors that lead to conversion to create a scientific hypothesis and testing against that hypothesis – not leaving it up to speculation, but actually testing (real time, real environment) for a lift, we are able to…keep conducting ever more effective tests!

Or stop. But you would be shocked at what gains can be made when others would be satisfied with stopping.

The methods are not hard to begin to grasp either, there are articles and training programs available and it takes about a week or so of free time to begin to understand and apply the principles in your own business, including distractions (for me: workout breaks and Bloomberg on mute in the background). So is it worth it? Is it worth doubling your conversions?

So…now what?
OK, so you’re like me, you’re new to Internet marketing. You have some tools: Google Website Optimizer, Adobe Omniture Test&Target, Google Analytics, etc. So…now what? Based on what I’ve learned so far, here are some great first items, using your tools along with our conversion heuristic, to keep an eye on:

  • Motivation
    • This has to do with the channels of your customers
      • Where are they coming from?
        • Does your plan assume you are treating your PPC customers the same as those coming directly?
      • Do all visitors have the same motivation? Are they looking for the same thing?
    • It can make a big difference for a given landing page if you take a look at your traffic in segments of motivation based on the channels they come from
  • Friction
    • It has more to it than just length, also look at the difficulty of your page in the mind of the visitor
      • Of course you know how to navigate it, but does everyone?
    • Try some alternate layouts or put more focus on your objective call to action and test for a lift
    • Looking at past experiments and working with current partners, I’ve seen a lot of room for improvement in regards to friction – try to really spend some time thinking conceptually and pragmatically about how your visitor navigates the page
  • Clarity of the Value Statement
    • You might think you have the best product, newsletter, webinar, etc. but if you can’t articulate that – simply and concisely to your visitor– you’re doing yourself a disservice
      • You need to answer the “why?” that is in the mind of your visitor
        • Remember to talk – don’t sell
      • Try some different copy in your headline and/or sub-headline
      • If you have lengthy body copy but good points to get across
        • Bullet
        • Them
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This might be a lot to take in at first, but it’s not a one-step process. These are just the top three areas that are pretty easy to spot for someone new to Internet marketing while trying to use the new tools at your disposal. You have to keep testing to make sure you’re getting the most out of your pages.

Don’t fret if you feel you’re not an Internet marketing veteran. It’s important to remember to use the knowledge you’ve gained in other areas and put it to work for you in Internet marketing. In my case it’s a love of data analysis and a small obsession with Excel.

The world of Internet marketing is constantly evolving and growing. New perspectives on old problems makes this industry so exciting to work in. So, welcome aboard and good luck!

Related resources

Becoming An Entrepreneur: Factors to consider when launching an Internet-based startup business

Double the Value of Your Online Testing: Don’t just get a result, get the maximum customer insights

Landing Page Optimization on-demand training and certification course

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13 Comments

  1. Ryan WSI says

    Wow, I Didn’t Know that there is a Formula for the Conversion Index Analysis. I just usually peek at my Google Analytics and Check the Stats if The Visitors went to my Goal (Optin Page, Thank You Page) and how many have unsubscribe.

    Ryan
    From Canada

  2. Market Research says

    Internet marketing is considered to be broad in scope because it not only refers to marketing on the Internet, but also includes marketing done via e-mail and wireless media.Thanks for giving information about Conversion Index Analysis.

  3. John :: Connected says

    Great roundup, Dustin.

    The good news is that even thinking about this subject and and the idea that your website could do better than today – this puts you in the top half of the pack.

    Then acting on the ideas puts you in the golden quadrant…

  4. Sean McVey says

    Hey Dustin thanks for the post. I recently read Landing Page Optimization by Tim Ash and it addresses similar factors in conversion. Tim, along with other experts, often stress the importance of stripping down the landing page and getting rid of information that takes away from the goal of action. In your experience, which information is absolutely necessary in order to decrease anxiety and get the value proposition across? A few bullet points of text? A headline? Any images? We are doing similar testing right now and I am curious as to what other people have found are optimal elements. Thanks!

  5. Michael says

    I was directed to your page by Peter Maxwell, who suggested I subscribe. I will when I can find where to do so (perhaps this addresses the navigation friction issue).

    Thanks for an insightful post. Food for thought. I look forward to reading (and applying) more. If I can find where to sign-up for your newsletter, that is.

  6. Annie says

    Well Dustin, yoour article freaks me out. If I had thought that saying “Welcome, I’ve got something good to sell to you” could be so technical I’de never have started on line!

  7. Will says

    Your CIA experience comes shining through in your article. Think about writing content so everyone can understand. It become too much mental in trying to figure out what you were saying that I couldn’t finish reading your article & will now unsubscribe from Marketing Experiments.

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