Landing Page Optimization 101
Online marketers are driven by the necessity of maximizing their Web traffic to bring in the revenues they need to fuel the successes of their businesses. The smartest ones invest a lot of time and effort designing and analyzing campaigns that pull customers through a funnel that encourages them to spend more time on the site and buy more of the products or services that are being promoted. Even a few extra seconds on the site by each visitor can add up to higher profits at the end of each month that translate into serious money at the end of the year.
Driving traffic to your site can be painfully expensive for even the best-funded online ventures. So when that clickthrough visitor that you've paid dearly for lands at your front door, you want to make sure that she or he feels welcome, and finds compelling reasons to become engaged with your content and stay awhile. This means that a modest investment in optimizing your landing pages might be the best money you'll spend on site improvements.
Too many site designers miss valuable opportunities to tweak their landing pages, however. Some might think their time is better spent in other areas, unaware that the conversion efficiency of their landing pages is the biggest profit driver under their control -- and that improving their overall cost per acquisition can pay big dividends.
Cost per acquisition basics
CPA depends on two key factors: the cost per click of driving traffic to a landing page and the conversion rate of the landing page itself. The conversion rate is the percentage of visitors who take the desired conversion action (buy something, fill out a form, download or clickthrough to another important page).
The economics of landing page improvements are compelling. If you don't increase your conversion rate at the same rate your traffic CPC increases, you'll see an ongoing decline in traffic as you're priced out of the market and become increasingly irrelevant. On the flip side, you can gain a lasting and significant advantage by increasing the efficiency of your landing pages, and then use that as a club to beat up your competitors in the quest for more traffic and larger program scale.
How can marketers know in advance which landing page element will or won't perform better? They all have access to thousands of landing page conversion experts and are interacting with them daily -- but the advice of these experts often is ignored.
Who are these mysterious experts? Surprise! They're your Web site visitors -- who come to know your site better than anyone, and the ones who determine your ultimate success or failure. So, it's important to listen to them.
Landing page optimization is like one of those science stores in a shopping mall, with visitors filing in the door looking at the colorful products you're offering. These people are potential experimental subjects who will voluntarily participate in your tests if you give them the opportunity. By measuring how they react, you can change the configuration of doorways they use to enter the store, and you can change the displays you use to attract them until you learn what they like best and what new landing page designs they'll respond to most readily.
Turning your Web site into a testing lab
There are three desirable recipes that we find work best to make your Web site into a more useful testing lab:
- High data rates. Many Web sites have significant traffic rates and a good supply of test subjects. A relatively large and steady stream of visitors flowing through allows you to use statistics to find and verify the validity of the best landing page designs. The best versions are proven winners. Unlike previous designs, they no longer are based solely on subjective opinions of the highest-paid person in your boardroom.
- Accurate tracking. Web analytics software supports the accurate tracking and recording of every interaction with your Web site. Although Web analytics software is not perfect, it provides a standard of data-collection accuracy that is unparalleled in any other marketing medium.
- Easy content changes. Internet technology offers the ability to easily swap or modify the content that a particular Web site visitor sees. The content can be customized based on the source of the traffic, the specific capabilities of the visitor's computer or Web browser, his behavior during each visit, or his history of interactions with your site.
Landing page optimization is part art gallery and part science lab. It requires many diverse creative and technical skills including site design, usability, copywriting, psychology, statistics and project management. The payoffs from a well-formulated landing page testing program can be phenomenal. The improvements you'll get from doing the right kind of landing page optimization at the right time in the right places will deliver solid, real-world results that you can deposit in your bank account.
Reach Tim Ash at firstname.lastname@example.org