How to Identify Landing Page Problems, Part 1
Landing page optimization and testing often can produce double-digit conversion rate improvements and transform the economics of an online business. But where do you begin? How do you uncover potential problems with you current pages?
Here are some common places to start:
Web analytics can provide many important clues to uncover and prioritize potential site problems by tracking the following:
- Most visited content. If a key page is not getting enough traffic, it may be necessary to move it to a more prominent location on your Web site, or to create more links to it from other popular pages.
- Path analysis. Path analysis allows you to see the sequences of pages that visitors use to traverse your site. It may be possible to change the position of key conversion pages or links within the site to benefit from such "drive-by" visibility.
- Top entry pages. A list of the top entry pages shows you the point of first contact with your site. Generally, the more traffic hitting a landing page, the more attention that page deserves in terms of conversion tuning. Traffic levels can help you prioritize the landing pages that need to be fixed first.
- Top exit pages. Exit pages are where visitors leave your site. Each exit page can be viewed as a leaky bucket. If visitors exit your site, they probably didn't find what they were looking for. High bounce rates on high-traffic pages are a red flag indicating that those pages need attention.
- Funnel analysis. Regardless of your visitors' initial wandering path on your Web site, they often must pass through a well-defined series of pages in order to convert. The funnel narrows as people drop off during each step. High drop-off percentages may signal that a particular step is especially problematic.
Onsite search can be a source of information about what is not working. Many searches produce no matching results, indicating a mismatch between visitors' desires and expectations, as well as the ability of a site to provide relevant content. By taking a close look at such empty search results, you can identify the type of information that's not effectively being found on your site.
This often can be done inexpensively and rather informally. After running as few as three subjects through your mission-critical conversion task, you often can uncover significant issues with your current landing page. All you need for this kind of informal approach is a quiet room, a mock-up of your proposed design (possibly just hand-drawn on paper) and a clear task statement of what you want your subjects to accomplish. You then simply ask test subjects to talk out loud about their thought processes as they work through the task.
Next week, we'll run the second part of this two-part series, which will explain how to uncover potential problems with your current pages with usability reviews, focus groups, eye-tracking studies, customer service reps, surveys, forums and blogs.
Tim Ash is president of San Diego, Calif.-based SiteTuners.com, a performance-based landing page optimization and testing company. He is the author of "Landing Page Optimization: The Definitive Guide to Testing and Tuning for Conversions". You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.