Landing Page Testing – Identifying Target Pages

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Earlier this month we started down the path of “landing page strategy testing – is it worth it?“. Landing pages can be an extremely useful tactic to increase conversions in a campaign. Employing landing pages is typically utilized in paid search campaigns, internal conversion pages and more recently, email marketing campaigns.

This week I’ll continue the subject on landing page strategy and jump into the second step; Test Strategy – determining pages worth testing. Determine your target page for testing by working down the list in order of importance and priority of your defined goals.

Start with visitors who are already leads. These individuals are those who are in the “action-mode” and ready to convert (purchase/opt-in/download, etc). They have already begun the journey down your conversion path. Utilize your analytics (ex. Google analytics), ‘Goals’ (if set up) and the conversion funnels. The conversion funnel overview will provide insight into page attrition of the leads who area already in the conversion mood. By establishing KPI’s in the conversion path such as page attrition, will allow you to easily gauge any positive or negative impacts of visitors in the conversion path. This itself will speak volumes of where to begin testing and optimization.

Again, this may cover the conversion paths of your eStore checkout, or your opt-in page, or a paid search campaign. Whatever area you identify is most critical to the success of your goals, is the ideal place to start.

Example: Paid Search Campaign (PPC)
Utilizing a landing page and optimizing its performance in a paid search campaign is most often found on primary target keywords that draw much of the quality traffic from a PPC campaign. A landing page test would gauge changes in post-click performance from the paid search campaign, to the destination page that starts the conversion goal path.
A landing page test may function as an intermediary page to draw a keyword relationship between the contextual ad they clicked in from, and the destination page you’re directing them too. Tactically employing content relevancy as it relates to the contextual ad, along with optimized sales copy and a high call to action, can all contribute to a higher conversion rate along the initial steps in the conversion path, versus sending the paid search visitor to a generic homepage or limited product page.

Determining pages worth testing is driven from the priority of pages that accomplish you goals, and the critical pages in your conversion path. Focussing on those critical pages that drive sales and revenue is a good recommended area to start. This may cover pages as an eStores shopping cart or checkout page, an email subscription opt-in form, a sign up form/registration form, etc. Where the primary barrier visitors must overcome to take the next step down the conversion path is an ideal place to test and optimize to improve your KPI conversions.

When determining your sales funnel / path for the test, you can’t accurately test the other pages in the funnel until you test the target page. The results will be skewed. There are tools available to allow multiple testing of pages in a sales path, however for this overview I’ll assume these tools and experienced resources are unavailable.

A second area to consider when determining a starting point for your landing page testing is the channels and entry points a visitor will arrive to your site. Understand what web marketing channel your ‘customers’ found your site on, entry pages and exit pages, attributes in the site already are working to convert these visitors, etc.

Knowing the sources, entry pages and conversion attributes that are already working for the website, are worth investing to enhance performance. This may sound counter-intuitive, but applying the 80/20 rule of business to your testing, can enhance KPI’s that already work for your conversion goals. Optimize what works to make it work better….while learning what doesn’t work.

A use-case from Apple Inc. at a New York conference presented findings of landing page testwork and optimization in an eStore that dramatically improved KPI (key performance indicators) conversion of the tested sales path. Multi-variant testing found reducing the number of conversion path webpages, testing shipping costs and emphasizing trust symbols (ex. eTrust, Better Business Bureau, Verisign, etc.), all profoundly contributed to significant improvements in conversion rates.
The use-case also revealed other areas that worked, or and didn’t work, during the test phase increasing conversions. Remember, part of the goal of landing page testing is to learn what’s going to work to increase success, and what won’t. Failures are necessary to learn from – just as with life.

So to identify those pages worthy of landing page:

1. Identify conversion pages of importance towards your goal, and order their priority. If monetizing your website from the sale of product, review your primary sales funnel paths
2. Identify what’s currently working for converting on visitors on your goals, and improve these.

Pump up the Volume

You’ve identified your priority pages. Now, lets look to widen the net and increase the volume of visitors through the conversion funnel. Again, using your analytics, identify those entry pages to lower the bounce rates so more visitors can move down your conversion path. A visitor can enter your website literally from any pages in the site, so identify the entry pages most important to the bottom line of your conversion funnel. These pages will have bounce rates, so establish a benchmark bounce rate for these pages.

Don’t assume all visitors are the same and apply the same landing page tactics to the same audience. Segment your visitors by traffic sources, and consider A/B testing against how visitors from these sources will respond to your conversion funnel. For example, by drilling down on your traffic sources, you may find exposure from one site outperforms far greater than exposure on another site. This will help you gauge your online spend with these sites in terms of the ‘quality’ traffic they drive and converts, but also how you can enhance these referral source conversions by testing landing pages on the top traffic sources. New visitors driven from different sources will most likely have some subtle differences, whether its needs, information, etc., so by connecting with their unique needs through a landing page tailored to this, will convert far greater than an standard, non-tailored landing page. General rule of thumb – speak to your audience needs and don’t generalize the whole.

Other areas to consider landing page testing are popular deep pages in your site that visitors find you on. While the homepage is important, Google may have indexed other pages deep within your site that are more relevant to the ‘quality’ visitor you seek, who converts are higher rate than an average visitor through the homepage.

Ex. As a vacation condo home owner in Whistler BC, Canada, seeking to list my place to rent out to others, I search for “Whistler vacation rentals” and I get SERPS (search engine result pages) in Google that promote the homepage of a directory site that lists vacation rentals – fairly generic. The general search term produced general search results, and directs me through the front door where I see general results. Now I browse around the site, visiting pages, to inform myself and see if this is a good business to list my Whistler rental. At this stage I’ve moved off the websites conversion path where they want me to be to funnel me through to list my condo with their services.
The alternative….I search Google for “Whistler village condo rental” (much more specific and relevant to my needs) and receive SERP’s specific to 1. condos, in 2. Whistler, and 3. for rent. This is much more specific and relevant for my needs. Google presents a page that is targeting just condo’s in Whistler, a page deep within the same site as the latter. I now have a better connection with this page talking about ‘condo rentals in Whistler’. This landing page, if optimized appropriately should now push me down the path to list my rental.

To convert more visitors to customers, or drive more prospects into your sales funnel, testing and optimizing deep entry pages can be a goldmine. You may receive less quantity of traffic versus the homepage, but the results are more relevant and qualified visitor traffic that converts….quality over quantity.

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