Whoever said don’t sweat the small stuff has never been in marketing. When something like a 3% increase in conversion rate makes all the difference in a company’s success…well, then yeah—the small stuff matters.
And if marketing strategy was simple, everyone would be good at it.
While it’s not simple, the good news is that it’s doable. We’d like to share with you one of the most effective keys to conversion success that we’ve found in the 19 years we’ve been at this marketing stuff: A/B website testing.
Here’s the issue—and we’ve seen it time and time again—businesses get excited about their marketing plan and they invest heavily in a brand new (expensive) website or a bunch of design collateral related to a new campaign.
The problem is that design and tech are changing so rapidly that really expensive efforts are constantly having to be replaced.
Every two to three years, another really nice marketing guy has to break the news that their shiny-new stuff isn’t working anymore and guess what… they need a brand new website (again).
Tackling website improvement with big broad strokes and wholesale changes is very much like reinventing the wheel. When businesses have to start from scratch every time, they’re basing their effort on temporary trends at best, and absolute guesses at worst.
Another major problem we encounter is that many companies get awestruck into purchasing really expensive, pretty websites from designers who have no understanding of conversion science.
And don’t get us wrong—we’re all about developing some attractive websites, but we also know that a fancy site that can’t convert visitors into leads is a big waste of your money.
So—this is traditional website design—in all of its flaws.
Savvy marketers use a very different approach. They implement a growth-driven web design process that focuses on making a lot of small tweaks along the way.
“What converts?” is one of the core questions of marketing. You’ve probably heard the term conversion rate optimization (CRO). CRO is one of the key metrics that every business should study and be constantly working to improve in their marketing.
Too many businesses focus only on driving more traffic. Increasing site visitors is always a great goal, but did you know that it’s a whole lot more cost-effective to get really good at converting the visitors that are already coming to your site?
Basic math tells us that when your conversion rate goes up, your customer acquisition cost goes down.
However, according to Funnel Overload’s collection of “37 Conversion Rate Optimization Statistics That Will Bag You More Conversions,” on average, companies continue to spend just $1 on conversion rate optimization for every $92 they spend on customer acquisition.
This is an area where many businesses have a huge opportunity for improvement. But, how do you achieve those crucial conversion bumps? You start with analytics.
Utilize these innovative technologies to analyze your website pages:
Heat mapping can give you instant, usable insights into scrolling trends so you can see how far down the page your site visitors are willing to go to check out more information.
Click mapping allows you to account for every click on your site with gray-dot indicators that can be categorized by various helpful filters (such as new or returning visitors, search term used, device type, etc.)
Mouse tracking shows you exactly where users’ mouse activity is happening on the page. In the places where the mouse is moving and hovering, we know that the engagement with those parts of the site is higher. This tech also allows you to take note of where visitors may be getting confused on certain pages.
Video tracking uses tracking code to let you see by name who is watching your videos, where they are rewinding content, and where the drop off points are. This kind of data ties closely with your content marketing strategy overall so that you can actually build better, more effective videos over time.
The tools mentioned in this article will give you critical intel on your visitors’ engagement with your site. But none of that will matter if you don’t put the data to use.
Look for patterns to help you develop hypotheses about why particular behaviors are occurring.
This will help you create tests or “experiments.” Think back to high school science…remember all that rambling your teacher did about the scientific method? Yeah, that’s going to come in handy at this point, so good for you if you were paying attention.
Step 1: Identify the conversion problem you’re trying to solve and define your goal.
Step 2: Establish your means for measuring.
Step 3: Build your hypothesis.
Step 4: Create website variations that will allow you to test that hypothesis.
Step 5: Run tests and determine if your hypothesis was correct or if you need to keep testing.
Once you have your analytics, pages with high abandonment rates are a great place to start to identify conversion problems. Setting up A/B tests and multivariate tests to make strategic pivots and incremental changes can yield really crucial boosts to conversion.
This might all sound really complex and analytical…and it is.
But what specific page aspects should you adjust during your testing?
Your calls to action (CTAs) are the most influential element on your landing page. Some of the aspects to adjust include:
Use of images can make a drastic difference for your site pages. In fact, according to statistics compiled in Go-Gulf’s Website Usability Infographic, 39% of users will abandon a website if images don’t load or take too much time to load.
Content is an important aspect to consider. Is the written text on your pages too short, long, formal? When considering online content development, remember that adding bulleted lists and white space between shorter paragraphs helps extend readers’ attention span (hint, hint: see what we’re doing here).
In this day and age, video is practically a must-have on your website. If you don’t have a homepage video, this might be an opportunity to make the investment. If you already have video content on a page that’s not converting well, consider creating an alternative version of the video to test.
Contact information and/or your contact form are places for possible improvement. Make your phone number and business address clearly visible either in the header or footer of your site. You could try changing positioning on the page, font size, or color for the contact info. Or, reducing the required fields on a form (or changing the location of the form in general) to achieve CRO.
Now, let’s address another important question:
How often should I be making changes?
The answer is dependent upon your traffic. 300 website visitors per month is very different than 30,000. If you don’t have enough traffic to really get a good gauge on user experience, then the data just won’t make a ton of sense, and your time and effort in making changes may not be very productive.
Normally, you’d want to analyze your data about six times per year. From there, start with multivariate testing before doing any major overhauls, which can be expensive and time consuming. Once your traffic is up and your data is more robust, work your way toward more A/B testing.
Depending upon your business, you’ll have to think about how to do A/B testing for website content that would be more important to prioritize for you. For example, eCommerce sites should focus more time on streamlining aspects of their checkout pages so they don’t lose customers unnecessarily in the “add to cart” and buying process.
Consider the A/B testing website example of RS Components, who added a “check quantity in stock” option to their product pages and saw a substantial 159% increase in add-to-basket clickthrough rate! Econsultancy documents this test and its result in detail in their article, “How one simple A/B test helped RS Components increase add-to-cart conversion by 159%.”
There’s an old urban legend about the Apollo moon rocket. It says that we shot it at the moon, but it was off course for 97% of its journey. However, as it went, we made constant, small course corrections that eventually landed it safely on the moon.
What does this have to do with marketing? Well, the tiny course corrections that were constantly being made to the Apollo rocket are very similar to the ongoing “testing and tweaking” process for optimizing a website.
In marketing, we have a general goal and vision and we get started with marketing based on what we know. Then we commit to listening to the data so we can be always making improvements along the way.
It breaks down like this…
We build marketing systems for our clients based on:
However, we also commit to:
We understand that’s what it takes to optimize your investment. And, our goal is to make your marketing better and better as we go (instead of letting it get quickly outdated and needing wholesale replacement in two years).
When we launch new marketing materials, our focus is on being able to measure every single detail of how those materials are working and how users are engaging with them. The ultimate goal is a more engaging site, tailored to consumer behavior.
Over time, we will have made so many micro changes and we will have conducted so much research that our clients don’t ever have to guess again. That’s the science part of what we do.
Interested in discussing how A/B website testing can help transform your marketing? Fill out this simple form to request a free consultation with our marketing team! Our award-winning design team is renowned for excellence in aesthetics as well, but we are proud to build marketing materials that actually work.