One of the classic Web usability “best practices” is to put the call-to-action above the fold. I did a little research (thank you, Wikipedia) and apparently, the term dates back to the mid-90s – practically the Paleozoic era of Web marketing.
So, is above the fold still a best practice in 2013? Let’s take a look at a recent discovery from our lab …
Background: Sierra Tucson is an addiction and mental health rehabilitation facility
Goal: Increase the total number of leads captured
Primary Research Question: Which page will obtain the most form submissions?
Approach: Multi-factor split test
The control was an average, short-form page template with a rotating banner. The call-to-action was above the fold on the right-hand side of the landing page.
After analyzing the control landing page, the MECLABS team identified a few possible areas for optimization:
- The page layout causes friction because elements of the value proposition are hidden within the navigation.
- The lack of value proposition on the page does not encourage users to contact the facility.
Based on this analysis, the team crafted the following hypothesis …
Hypothesis: If we increase the value proposition throughout the copy on the homepage and decrease friction with a long-form page layout, then users will be more likely to convert.
Navigation was omitted (“Web Usability: When should you avoid navigation?“) and a long-form format was used to include all of the information a visitor might want to know on the first page.
Essentially, this is a single-column, long-form structure with the call-to-action down at the bottom. The treatment is nearly twice the length of the control and the call-to-action is at the bottom of the page.
The Wichita State of Web marketing, “below the fold” routed the “above the fold” control. In a shocker, this Cinderella story generated a 220% higher conversion rate with a 98% level of confidence.
By utilizing a single-column, long-copy approach, the treatment better guided the prospect’s thought process.
The below the fold discovery is interesting in and of itself, but when I discussed this experiment with Jon Ciampi, Vice President Marketing, Business Development & Corporate Development, CRC Health (parent company of Sierra Tucson), he had a deeper discovery for his business.
“The fact that a below the fold form worked better than an above the fold form was a secondary learning for us,” Jon said. “The primary learning was that the biggest question customers had about our health care centers was around trust. ‘I’m handing my healthcare to you; can I trust you with my life?’”
A complete marketing transformation
Now, here’s where the story really gets interesting. Jon didn’t just settle for a simple discovery in one experiment. I’m going to interview Jon about the full story behind this marketing transformation during a transferable case study session at Optimization Summit 2013 in Boston, but here’s a quick look at the story.
“This learning transformed our marketing department, and led to many more lifts. For example, a 14,000% PPC ad improvement that our Google rep called ‘the highest clickthrough rate the Google healthcare team had ever seen,’” Jon said.
“Beyond our marketing department, this learning transformed our entire business. For example, we have an 85% increase in paid search revenue across 300 websites. These numbers are shocking to me. We have an unfair advantage,” he added.
Previously, the marketing department focused on features of the healthcare centers, like the secluded location. From this discovery, the team focused on the issue of trust.
This changed everything the team did – not just the way they wrote their landing pages, but the way they answered the phone, how they handled reputation management, their use of social media, and the list goes on.