Landing Pages

How Optimizing Our Test Site's Landing Page Increased Sales Revenue by 31.5%

We recently released the recording of our landing pages clinic. You can listen to a recording of this clinic here:

Windows Media Audio:
http://meclabs.com/cgi-bin/pl/pl.cgi?clw

RealMedia:
http://meclabs.com/cgi-bin/pl/pl.cgi?clr

The online notes for the landing pages clinic are available here:
http://mecgroups.com/mec_research_log/archives/001501.html

What are landing pages and why are they important? Is it possible that these pages may even be more important that your home page? Are you spending too much time optimizing the wrong pages on your site? What are the important elements of your pages?

How did our test site improve its total site conversion and increase revenue by 31.5% just by optimizing its primary landing page? What did we learn from simplifying their site design, placing strategic credibility indicators, and clarifying their value proposition? How can you apply this information to your site?

This report will answer those questions and will provide eight key points to help you optimize your website’s landing pages.

Findings

What are Landing Pages?

Many companies fail to recognize that their “homepage” is not necessarily the first or even the most visited page on their website. A “landing page” is the first page a customer lands on when they click through to your website. Your “primary landing page” is the landing page that gets the most incoming traffic.

For most companies (especially retailers), the “product” page is most often the primary landing page. For publishers, it is often the pages with the best content. Service providers with a limited offering usually use their homepage as their primary landing page.

The best way to know for sure is to take a look at your website statistics. By identifying the pages with the most unique visits, or by identifying the most popular “entry pages” to your site, you can pinpoint where you should focus your page-optimization efforts.

How much of an Impact can Optimization Have?

Our test site is an Internet Technology reseller. It features an excellent offering including the following selling points:

  1. Free ground shipping with no minimum purchase
  2. Products guaranteed to be compatible with your computer
  3. A lifetime warranty

In this case, the site’s primary landing page is its homepage. Some of the additional elements of the homepage included:

  1. Product categories in sections with heavily weighted headings
  2. Testimonials
  3. Headline text focusing on their shipping offers
  4. Third-party credibility indicators from the Better Business Bureau, Bizrate, Verisign, etc.

The site already had a superb total site conversion of 3.6%. By looking at the website metrics, we were able to identify that more than half of the site’s visitors go down the same path, which is the highest converting path on the website. So our optimization efforts were focused on sending more visitors down this specific path.

In May of 2004, we optimized the primary landing page of this site and achieved the following results:

Test Site A – PPC and Natural Search Traffic – May 2004
Original Page Optimized Page
Unique Visits 2,176 2,223
Orders 73 96
Path Conversion Rate 3.35% 4.32%
Average Order $75 $75
Total Revenue $5475 $7200

What You Need To UNDERSTAND: By optimizing the landing page for this test site, we were able to raise the conversion ratio by 31.5% (an increase from 3.35% to 4.32%). The average order price for this site is $75, so our optimization efforts represented an increase in revenue of $1725 (31.5%) in the test period alone.

These are some of the specific changes we implemented:

  1. We changed the category navigation to use text links instead of images, which we thought distracted visitors from the primary offer.
  2. We moved the category navigation from the left column of the site to the right so that it was NOT in a visitor’s natural eye path. Again, we did not want the navigation to distract from the primary offer.
  3. We repositioned the testimonials to a more prominent location on the page.
  4. We positioned one of the third-party credibility indicators adjacent to the “action” button of the primary offer path.
  5. We changed the headline text to focus on the “Compatibility Guarantee”.
  6. We made the FREE SHIPPING offer the primary selling point in the header of the page, so that it would not be missed by any visitor to the site.
  7. We added spacing to let the page breathe, and we removed any information that did not contribute to referring visitors to the primary sales path of the site. (This reduced the length of the page significantly.)
  8. We used shape and color to differentiate the primary offer. We used a highlighted box that included bullet points, a credibility indicator, and a prominent button they needed to click to take the next step in the primary path.

What Eight Key Points Should You Keep in Mind When Optimizing Your Landing Pages?

  1. Are you sending people to the right landing pages? If you are using any paid advertising (such as PPC engines) where you can choose the landing pages of your campaigns, it is essential that the visitor is directed to the most specific page related to the keyword or product they clicked on. In the majority of cases, this is NOT your homepage unless you have very few products or a small service offering.

    For example, if someone searches Google for “Canon digital camcorder”, you have a much better chance of closing a sale if you send them directly to a page featuring Canon digital camcorders (complete with pictures, products specs, price, and so on) than if you were to send them to the homepage of your camera retail site.

  2. Make an effort to understand your traffic. Define the major sources of incoming traffic to your site (and be as specific as possible). Within each major source of traffic, define the most popular click you are receiving and which page they are landing on. From the click-through information identify the main reason they clicked through to your page:
    1. Did you have the lowest price?
    2. The best company rating?
    3. The largest selection?
    4. A special promotion or offering?
    5. The highest ranking on a search engine?
    6. A specific keyword from a pay-per-click campaign?
  3. Using the information developed in point 2, design your landing pages specifically for the reason they clicked through.

    For example, if you had the lowest price make sure you include headline text such as “The lowest price on Dealtime.com”.

    If you have the highest company rating, use text like “The highest rated company on PriceGrabber” (and include your actual rating).

    If they clicked because of a special promotion or 10% discount, use a headline that applies the discount to the product they clicked.

  4. You must use an effective “hook” to keep the shopper on your site. You have only 5 seconds to grab his or her attention, so don’t waste valuable page space on irrelevant information.

    Besides click-specific information (point 3), you should also emphasize your company’s value proposition. Focus on elements such as these:

    1. Product guarantees or money back guarantees
    2. Free or discounted shipping
    3. Quantity purchases or bulk discounts
    4. Same-day or next-day shipping
    5. Special offer or sale information
    6. Exceptional customer service or satisfaction guarantees
  5. Utilize third-party credibility indicators. Third-party credibility indicators are one of the most effective ways to communicate that you have a reputable company (no fraud), that customers’ privacy and personal information are safe, and that other customers have had a positive experience shopping with you.

    Some examples of credibility indicators would be:

    1. Comparison engine ratings (Yahoo!, PriceGrabber, DealTime, etc.)
    2. Ratings from sites such as BBBOnline, Bizrate, etc.
    3. Site security and protection indicators (Verisign, Trust-e, Thawte, SSL Certification, Hackersafe)
    4. Testimonials from your existing customers
  6. Utilize effective sales copy that devoid of hype. Focus on implying integrity and accuracy. Review our article “Transparent Marketing” for information on how to earn the trust of skeptical online shoppers:
    http://meclabs.com/cgi-bin/pl/pl.cgi?mtm
  7. Do not overwhelm the visitor with too much information on the page. Strategically placed bold, colored, highlighted, italicized, or enlarged fonts can help to organize content for the reader. Beware of using long paragraphs on the Internet. Use bullets, headers, and white space. Allow the page to breathe.

    Review our reports on website design, listed in the notes below.

  8. KEY POINT: Utilize an A-B split test. This will show every other visitor a different page, which will ensure that you get the most reliable numbers in testing your page optimization efforts. Without this, other factors such as time, source of traffic, etc. can affect the outcome of your tests.

    In our literature review, below, we list several pieces of software that will help you implement an A-B split test on your site.

Related:  Optimizing Course Product Pages

By optimizing your website’s landing pages, and by sending your visitors to the RIGHT landing pages, you can have a significant impact on your site’s revenue. Our test site, which was already very well designed, was able to increase its revenue by 31.5% from our efforts. We believe that for many sites, the potential is even greater.

Notes

Related MEC Reports:

Site Design Tested, Part 1:
http://meclabs.com/cgi-bin/pl/pl.cgi?ms1

Site Design Tested, Part 2:
http://meclabs.com/cgi-bin/pl/pl.cgi?ms2

Ideal Subscription Path Tested:
http://meclabs.com/cgi-bin/pl/pl.cgi?mis

Offer Pricing Tested:
http://meclabs.com/cgi-bin/pl/pl.cgi?mop

Order Process Tested:
http://meclabs.com/cgi-bin/pl/pl.cgi?mdr

Email Campaigns Tested:
http://meclabs.com/cgi-bin/pl/pl.cgi?mem

Comparison Search Engines Tested:
http://meclabs.com/cgi-bin/pl/pl.cgi?mcs

Transparent Marketing:
http://meclabs.com/cgi-bin/pl/pl.cgi?mtm

Literature Review

As part of our research on this topic, we have prepared a review of the best Internet resources on this topic.

Rating System

These sites were rated for usefulness and clarity, but alas, the rating is purely subjective.

* = Decent ** = Good *** = Excellent **** = Indispensable

Optimost ***
http://www.optimost.com/

Offermatica **
http://www.offermatica.com/

Landing Page Systems **
http://www.edatadirect.com/services/landing.asp

Landing Page Optimization **
http://clickz.com/experts/search/strat/article.php/3086431

Landing Page Magic and My Two Cents **
http://clickz.com/experts/search/opt/article.php/1490111

Testing: Take Off… and Landing (Page)! **
http://clickz.com/experts/em_mkt/em_mkt/article.php/1004731

What Happens After the Click? **
http://meclabs.com/cgi-bin/pl/pl.cgi?atc

Perfecting Your Landing Pages **
http://payperclickanalyst.com/article-cindy-mcmahen-002.htm

Landing the Best Landing Page **
http://meclabs.com/cgi-bin/pl/pl.cgi?lbl

They Clicked, They Left **
http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/0,4621,307288,00.html

Do Audio Clips on Landing Pages Increase Conversion Rates? **
http://www.wilsonweb.com/art/convert/audio-conversion.htm

How to Optimize Your Landing Pages Scientifically **
http://www.wilsonweb.com/ebooks/splittest.htm

How to Develop a Landing Page that Closes the Sale **
http://www.wilsonweb.com/ebooks/landing.htm

AD:TECH – 3 Laws Of Ad Landing Pages **
http://meclabs.com/cgi-bin/pl/pl.cgi?3ll

Reinventing Landing Pages **
http://www.searchengineblog.com/columns/landing_paths.htm

Landing Pages that Convert Visitors into Buyers **
http://www.peachpit.com/articles/article.asp?p=170274

Related:  The Most Shared MarketingExperiments Content of 2016

Using Dedicated Landing Pages for Tracking Promotional Campaigns **
http://webmarketingplus.co.uk/promotions/landing-pages.html

Landing Pages: Catch Me, If You Can **
http://www.grokdotcom.com/topics/landingpage.htm

How to Use Landing Pages Successfully **
http://meclabs.com/cgi-bin/pl/pl.cgi?htl

Why Use Landing Pages **
http://searchengineposition.com/info/articles/LandingPages.asp

Landing Pages: What They Are and How They Work **
http://www.searchguild.com/article95.html

Google PageRank and Landing Pages **
http://www.nexternal.com/Nexus/ezine.asp?Newsletter=21

Four Hot PPC Landing Page Tips for Sizzling Site Conversions **
http://www.searchenginewriting.com/landingpagemagic.html

Better Landing Pages = More Sales **
http://meclabs.com/cgi-bin/pl/pl.cgi?blp

How to Write an Effective Landing Page **
http://www.businessknowhow.com/internet/landing-page.htm

About This Brief

Credits:

Editor — Flint McGlaughlin
Writer — Brian Alt
Contributor — Jimmy Ellis
HTML Designer — Cliff Rainer

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