Mar 23, 2010

Testing helps improve site conversions

Testing your website pages, especially landing pages and sales pages, is one of the simplest things you can do to tweak your web site and attain higher conversions. In addition, you can learn more about content creation, as well as your customers’ interests, through testing than by any other method.

Back in the days of mail order marketing, testing sales letters and catalogs gathered more useful information about new ideas than most other methods of research. In the Internet era, testing has become an order of magnitude less expensive – and can deliver data that’s even more statistically reliable. Using a method called “split testing” or “A/B testing”, you can serve up different versions of a single page to segments of your website visitors to see on which page they spend more time,  fill out the form, click on the “more info” button, download a file, or more. And through the use of affordable testing software and statistics packages, you can get full reports and analyses.

What Should You Test…?
You can test whole-page concepts to find out what emotional triggers your market responds to. Simply test two or three versions of your sales page that each focus on a separate theme or idea about your product or service. Perhaps one focuses on price and value, while another emphasizes customer service and reliability.  The page that pulls the most conversions will give you the answers you are looking for.

What should you test? The simple answer is: Everything.  Everything on your pages and in your sales message contributes to your conversion rate. This includes your headline, opening paragraphs, body copy, your offer, post scripts, background color, font, font colors, images and every imaginable component of your page in between.

Volumes of information have been written about what to test and how to test your web pages. This work is extensive, so when you begin to test, I suggest you concentrate your first efforts on the three areas that have been shown to have the most impact on your sales pages: the headline, the first few opening paragraphs, and your offer. Today, I’ll focus on the easiest testing ‘subject': Your site’s headlines.

Website Headline Testing
Headlines can have the most impact on your conversion rate and response of these three above mentioned components. A number of user studies indicate that nearly three-quarters of your site visitors will never read past your headlines – unless you make those headlines appealing and relevant. It doesn’t matter how wonderfully you may have written the rest of your sales page – if the headline doesn’t do its job of getting people to read on, your entire website will be a failure.

In order for your headlines to be effective, you have to discover the biggest core desires within your market. The best headline tests are based around the different motivations that drive people to become interested in your products or services.

Testing different headlines around different concepts will tell you which one is more appealing to your target audience. Once you have the key concepts and motivations tested and you have discovered which one works best, you then go to work tweaking your headline in more persuasive ways.

Test as many headlines as you can think up for your web page. In fact, you should never stop testing different headlines on your page. A simple 10% increase in your conversions could result in hundreds or thousands of dollars more in business sales. Testing your headlines could bring an increase of 50%, 100%, or even 200% or more in the response to your online message.

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