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Creating Effective Landing Pages

How multivariate testing can boost results.



By Matt Kinsman
11/01/2010

The definition of “landing page” is changing as the Web site homepage takes a back seat to external channels such as Facebook, and visitors today more often than not first arrive on internal pages at a publisher’s site thanks to links and search. But regardless of what you consider a landing page to be, the goal remains to drive action.

For Consumer Source, a Primedia company that offers realty listings through sites such as ApartmentGuide.com, Rentals.com, rentalHouses.com and NewHomeGuides.com, driving action is paramount, turning every page into a landing page.

“The landing page for us is basically as deep as we can get the user into the site, where the call to action is,” says Consumer Source Web optimization analyst Paul Terry. “We’re in the lead gen business and we bring people looking for a place to live into communication with our customers. A call-to-action could be a request for more information, a check for availability or a request for a brochure. We’re heavily SEO and SEM-driven, and we have landing pages that exist only for those purposes. How fast can we get the user to where they need to be?”

Multivariate Testing Doubles Conversion Rate

Through multivariate testing Consumer Source has more than doubled its conversion rate over the last 18 months. “We’ve seen approximately a 150 percent increase,” says Terry. “Testing has become part of everything we do.”

Using SiteSpect’s Software-as-a-service model (SaaS), Primedia sought to improve lead generation, increase conversion rates and balance site improvements with ancillary revenue from third-party advertising. SiteSpect allowed regular expressions in test definitions, enabling matches of strings of text such as word and content patterns. Even smaller findings helped. “We learned that users would rather send their information to us, rather than submit it to the computer,” says Terry.

Editorial on Consumer Source is completely driven by SEO, according to Terry. “It’s always a trade-off between page load time and the content on the page,” he says. “We don’t do multivariate testing against SEO.”

Other publishers are seeing improved results from multivariate testing but are opting for open source tools.  According to Business & Legal Resources CEO Bob Brady, his original multivariate testing platform, Vertster, was useful but cost $18,000 a year while using Google Analytics is free.  

Brady also said that changing a single word in his ads has increased conversion rates by three times the original. One e-mail registration page saw 3,000 monthly visitors with a 37 percent conversion rate.

Two Clicks To Take Any Action?  

Wherever possible, Consumer Source tries to lower the number of clicks a customer must make to take action to two. For example, a user sending questions to three different Consumer Source customers used to have to fill out three separate demographic questionnaires. Now they only have to do it once.

“The least number of actions for the user, the less likely they are to get lost or off track,” says Terry. “First and last name is another example. If you have the user type in their first name  in one field and their last name in another field, the conversions go way down. It sounds like a small thing, but it makes a big difference.”

Consumer Source takes the same approach with search tools. “We want the user to do as little work as possible to find what they’re looking for, but at same time we want them to talk to as many customers as possible,” says Terry.

Too many options isn’t a good thing. “We try not to give them too many tools that would preclude too many choices for them,” says Terry. “Our search tool is something we heavily optimize. It’s usually around location or price but also certain amenities and area of town.”

By Matt Kinsman
11/01/2010







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