In the wild and untamed badlands of the Internet, the competition for visitors and traffic is fierce. Amidst the seeming safety of anonymous IP addresses, a silent war is being waged between commercial websites. Everyone wants to make more sales than their competitors. This driving motivation leads to the exploitation of different methodologies to convert a greater percentage of relative traffic flows into paying customers. Website owners can use these techniques to raise their conversion rates. The conversion rate measures how many visitors become customers, expressed as a percentage rate.
One of the simpler techniques is called A/B testing, also known as split testing. This approach involves taking a single factor on a web page and changing it in some way. Any of the elements on a page can be tested to discover which of them exerts the greatest influence on the conversion rate of the page as a whole. A/B testing is a methodical technique that can produce results relatively quickly when comparing to different webpages. However, if the test is for each component of a pageor many pages need testing this can require a much larger amount of time must be devoted to running all of the tests. This may seem tedious, but it is necessary to produce robust results that are not skewed or biased even subtly.
Landing Page Optimization
Perhaps the most important page for a website owner to take care of is the landing page. A landing page is the first page a visitor sees after he clicks on an advertisement. Landing pages do the majority of the “selling” on behalf of the site. If the visitor likes what he sees, he may explore other parts of the site and, hopefully, become a customer. Landing page optimization (LPO) is a crucial aspect of making sure every part of the site is performing at the highest level possible. Each page has its own individual conversion rate, and the landing page’s conversion rate can play a major role in determining conversion rates for other pages.
Common Landing Page Issues
Properly optimizing such an important page requires understanding the problems that can arise. Three often-seen issues are too much text, poor graphic design and social proof. Too much text is the bane of any page on a site, but with a landing page it is particularly egregious. An overabundance of disorganized textual content confuses a visitor and does not add value to the page or the site. Textual content must be clearly delineated into paragraphs and integrated into the overall graphic design of the page. The graphic design is also important, because how the items on the page are arranged, size, fonts and color all contribute to the “feel” of the page.
Finally, “social proof” refers to endorsements and reviews from media organizations, businesses and other entities that have either been customers of the site or have sampled its products in some way. This social proof is important because brand names can help carry a site forward. Visitors like to see brand endorsements because it makes them feel more comfortable with the site and increases the likelihood of conversion.
How A/B Testing Improves a Landing Page
A/B testing can go through all of the elements on the page and test them to discover which ones are pivotal or extraneous to the page. By changing the components one at a time, A/B testing helps to reveal where the page is lagging behind. Changing the landing page will improve the conversion rate, increasing the profits of the site and putting the owner ahead of his competitors. Thankfully there are free resources available to help if you want to get started with A/B testing, such as Google’s Website Optimizer which also allows for multivariate testing which is a more advanced form of testing.