Site Design

How can we improve the effectiveness of our home page? | Part 1

Test Number: #112501-SD

Word Count: 3675+

Focus: 10 Questions

  1. How does home page design impact the visitor penetration ratio?
  2. How does the visitor penetration ratio affect site revenue?
  3. How does featuring a product on the home page impact its sales volume?
  4. Is your site focused around one, clear objective?
  5. Has a clear problem/solution process been communicated?
  6. Does your home page have a strong enough “hook” to seize a prospect’s attention within five seconds?
  7. Is there a sufficient incentive for every action you are asking the prospect to take?
  8. Are you offering successive degrees of involvement for a prospect who is not yet committed to the full process?
  9. Have credibility indicators been subtly placed throughout the site?
  10. Does the tone of your site’s sales copy imply integrity and accuracy?

Credits:

  1. Writer – Flint McGlaughlin
  2. HTML Designer – Cliff Rainer

Quickscan This Report

TEST SUMMARY

We analyzed 4 different web sites to determine how to produce the most results with the design of your home page.

Test Product

SITE A – Women’s Wear
SITE B – Electronics
SITE C – Swimsuits
SITE D – Closeout Specials

Test Costs

Data Analysis (Labor) = $4500

Learn how we partnered with one of our readers and grew their volume by 750%. You can get real HELP with your SITE DESIGN and MARKETING efforts. Team up with the staff at the Journal, help us conduct our experiments, and grow your company at the same time. Click here.

Once upon a time, there was a Humble Internet Merchant who built a lovely store (TEST SITE C), complete with flashing headlines, and 14 scantily dressed models. The site was ever so popular; within just a few days, more than 15,000 pilgrims clicked their way through the digital forest to peruse his offering.

The merchant was delighted. That is… he was delighted until he carefully reviewed his site statistics. For therein he discovered, much to his chagrin, the true yield per visit of his burgeoning new enterprise:

MERCHANT C – YIELD STATS
Total Visits To Home Page 15,808
Total Visits To His Most Popular Interior Page 2106
Total Orders 4
Total Revenue $220
Total Yield Per Visit $0.02

Our Humble Internet Merchant was perplexed. How could his expensive, attractive site produce such dismal results? His products were of exceptional quality, he had exclusive distribution rights, he had a superb domain name, and he was a third generation retailer.

So what was the problem?

The answer was, at first, difficult to discern, but the weary retailer eventually zeroed in on this stat:

Total Visits To His Most Popular Interior Page 2106

This number belies a common malady among web merchants — Anemic Home Page Syndrome. SITE C failed to capture the attention of more than 88% of its visitors. Most of its traffic “peeked through the window”, but never went inside. Its best marketing efforts could only generate a lousy 2 cents per visit.

Researchers at the Marketing Experiments Journal have spent 6 long months carefully studying home page/landing page design. Along the way, three points have grown imminently clear:

  • In this carnivorous economy marketers cannot afford an ineffectual home page.
  • If your home page is not producing its maximum yield, you could be wasting up to 85% of your marketing budget.(*1)
  • Home page design is a function of marketing; it should not be left to the mercy of programmers, graphic artists, or product managers.

Our studies have helped us to develop a 16 Step Site Diagnostic that we will discuss later in this report. But first, let’s examine the hard data.

Related:  Homepage Optimization

How does home page design impact the visitor penetration ratio?

The visitor penetration ratio refers to the percentage of visitors who actually click into a site’s infrastructure.

We suspect that 95% of commercial home pages are failing to fully engage many of their potential prospects.

A comparison of the page view stats for SITES C and D amplifies the problems that SITE C experienced.

MERCHANT D – Page Views
Home Page 22,273
First Most Visited Interior Page 5,565
Second Most Visited Interior Page 4,382
Third Most Visited Interior Page 3,840

What you need to UNDERSTAND: Of 22,273 visits to the home page, there were at least 13,787 visits to the top three most popular pages. That is a ratio of 62%.

MERCHANT C – Page Views
Home Page 15,808
First Most Visited Interior Page 2106
Second Most Visited Interior Page 1863
Third Most Visited Interior Page 1581

What you need to UNDERSTAND: Of 15,808 visits to the home page, there were at least 5,550 visits to the top three most popular pages. That is a ratio of (just) 35%.

While 62% of SITE D’s visitors “stepped inside the web store” to explore its more popular pages, only 35% of SITE C’s visitors did the same.

Most home pages can’t generate money themselves. They exist for at least two reasons:

  1. To capture the visitor’s attention – You’ve got less than 5 seconds to STOP a web surfer from “moving on.”
  2. To entice the visitor to click on a strategic link – The link may be a product description, an order button, a form submission, or some other key element.

How does the visitor penetration ratio affect site revenue?

The previous two tables help us determine that SITE C has a low visitor penetration ratio, but just how important is this number? How does it correlate to the bottom line? How does it impact the all-important revenue per visit ratio?

More pointedly, how much money does poor home page design cost a web merchant?

To answer that question, we need to study the following two tables. If you are in a hurry, or if this long column of numbers make you nauseous, just skip down to the TOTAL.

But whatever you do… don’t put away this report, yet. The remaining information can help improve your site’s economic performance.

MERCHANT E – Revenue Per Visit (*2)
Referrer: http://search.shopping.yahoo.com/
Visits Orders Revenue Revenue per Visit
31,894 565 $16083.49 $0.50
Referrer: http://order.store.yahoo.com/
Visits Orders Revenue Revenue per Visit
4,595 1 $87.88 $0.02
Referrer: http://hits2you.hypermart.net/
Visits Orders Revenue Revenue per Visit
3,517 2,426 $14 456.69 $0.19
Referrer: http://store.yahoo.com/
Visits Orders Revenue Revenue per Visit
2,426 14 $456.69 $0.19
Referrer: http://store.google.com/
Visits Orders Revenue Revenue per Visit
1,673 26 $847.70 $0.51
Referrer: http://www.yahoo.com/
Visits Orders Revenue Revenue per Visit
1,415 63 $1754.97 $1.24
Referrer: http://products.search.shopping.yahoo.com/
Visits Orders Revenue Revenue per Visit
811 12 $600.21 $1.74
Referrer: http://www.clearancecrazy.com
Visits Orders Revenue Revenue per Visit
770 5 $118.89 $0.15
Referrer: http://www.womenfreeebies.com
Visits Orders Revenue Revenue per Visit
419 2 $79.29 $0.19
Referrer: http://www.qksrv.net/
Visits Orders Revenue Revenue per Visit
403 4 $62.30 $0.15
Referrer: http://www.freakyfreddies.com/
Visits Orders Revenue Revenue per Visit
391 2 $222.96 $0.60
Referrer: http://www.corksculptures.org/
Visits Orders Revenue Revenue per Visit
187 1 $24.96 $0.13
Referrer: http://shopping.yahoo.com/
Visits Orders Revenue Revenue per Visit
136 8 $163.33 $1.35
Referrer: http://www.haggle.com/
Visits Orders Revenue Revenue per Visit
53 1 $13.90 $0.26
Referrer: http://64.4.14.250/
Visits Orders Revenue Revenue per Visit
44 1 $39.90 $0.91
Referrer: http://64.4.16.250/
Visits Orders Revenue Revenue per Visit
37 1 $137.16 $3.71
Referrer: http://216.33.226.250/
Visits Orders Revenue Revenue per Visit
32 1 $51.80 $1.62
TOTALS
Visits Orders Revenue Revenue per Visit
53,888 1336 $41,329 $0.77
Related:  [Infographic] How to Create an Effective Testing and Optimization Plan

What you need to UNDERSTAND: This site was able to capture 77 cents for every single person that visited.

MERCHANT D – Revenue Per Visit (*3)
Referrer: http://www.swimsuits.com/
Visits Orders Revenue Revenue per Visit
5,758 1 $75.72 $0.01
Referrer: http://search.shopping.yahoo.com/
Visits Orders Revenue Revenue per Visit
2,248
Referrer: http://products.search.shopping.yahoo.com/
Visits Orders Revenue Revenue per Visit
879
Revenue: http://www.yahoo.com/
Visits Orders Revenue Revenue per Visit
733
Referrer: http://shopping.yahoo.com/
Visits Orders Revenue Revenue per Visit
588
Referrer: http://store.yahoo.net/
Visits Orders Revenue Revenue per Visit
532
Referrer: http://dir.yahoo.com/
Visits Orders Revenue Revenue per Visit
447
Referrer: http://www.msn.com/
Visits Orders Revenue Revenue per Visit
291
Referrer: http://order.store.yahoo.com/
Visits Orders Revenue Revenue per Visit
222
Referrer: http://edit.store.yahoo.com/
Visits Orders Revenue Revenue per Visit
183
Referrer: http://search.msn.com/
Visits Orders Revenue Revenue per Visit
171
Referrer: http://www.google.com/
Visits Orders Revenue Revenue per Visit
95
Referrer: http://aolsearch.aol.com/
Visits Orders Revenue Revenue per Visit
85
Referrer: unknown
Visits Orders Revenue Revenue per Visit
79 2 $154.72
TOTALS
Visits Orders Revenue Revenue per Visit
15,808 3 $220.44 0.02

What you need to UNDERSTAND: This site was only able to capture 2 cents for every single person that visited.

If SITE C would have re-designed its home page, so that it achieved the same revenue per visit as SITE D, it would have captured $12,172 instead of a discouraging $220.

How does featuring a product on the home page impact its sales volume?

There are at least 22 questions you need to answer to determine if your home page is under-performing. For example if you are a retailer, you may want to ask if you have products featured on your home page. Here is why:

HOME PAGE VS. INTERIOR PAGES
Number Of Visits to Home Page Popular Number Of Visits To Most Interior Page
SITE A 22,776 11,112
SITE B 27,650 11,359
SITE C 15,808 2,106
SITE D 22,627 5,679

What you need to UNDERSTAND: On average, the home page received 66% more visits than the most popular interior page. That means that the home pages of these sites were seen by (at least) twice as many people.

So how does this ratio impact revenue?

Here is one example: products featured on the home page of SITE A outsold items featured elsewhere by 250%. (*4)

Section 2 (Continue…)

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