Optimizing Landing Pages for Effective Online Advertising, Part 2: Testing

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In Part 2 of our 3-part series on landing pages, we explore the ways to test your landing pages so you can minimize your PPC campaign’s cost per action (CPA), further understand your audiences’ behavior, and have the data to make better online marketing decisions.

 “You know what happens when you assume?”

When it comes to optimizing your pay per click (PPC) campaign’s landing pages, unverified assumptions can lead to missed potential in the form of lost conversions, vague brand identity, and a sub-par user experience.

Testing landing pages is a crucial step in the online advertising process, allowing you to remove barriers to entry and roadblocks to conversion that you may not have previously identified. It also lets you better understand your customers, from the types of messaging they prefer, to their behavior, to the types of imagery they best respond to. Have an assumption about your audience? You’d better test it before putting the full weight of your resources behind it!

According to an Ascend2 study, only 33 percent of brands do extensive testing on their landing pages. Not surprisingly, 67% of marketers surveyed say that their landing pages are only somewhat successful and 20% say that their landing pages are actually not successful. If this doesn’t spell missed opportunity, we don’t know what does.

Types of Tests

When teachers want to test their students, there are a variety of ways they can go about it. There are essay tests, multiple choice, and oral exams. And while these different types of tests all aim to measure the same content, each input method has its own advantages and disadvantages. It’s no different with landing pages! When it comes to testing your landers, there are different ways to measure them:

  • Multivariate: Perhaps the most useful type of test for landing page optimization, multivariate testing involves testing many elements within a single landing page and identifying the impact of each individual change. An example of thoughtful multivariate testing might be evaluating the performance of a “single” page (ideally your highest performing page) by creating different versions of it with different images, headlines, text copy, or other features. This technique allows you to better identify which elements are having the greatest effect on your campaign’s success (or lack thereof).
  • A/B: The “True or False” equivalent of landing page testing, A/B testing allows you to create a control sample and another version in which a single variable is different, and then comparing the results of the two pages. This is especially useful for testing the effectiveness of individual landing page design elements, such as layouts, colors and images.
  • Usability: Web usability testing uses a combination of multivariate and A/B techniques, aiming to find the best possible placements and strategies to yield the desired end result. This is typically done by tracking the user’s movements and actions across your landing page and through the desired path, all the way to the checkout page (and you can use your Google Analytics to monitor all this). For example, a high bounce rate on your landing page might indicate a significant flaw in its design—and a usability test, such as UsabilityHub’s free FiveSecondTest, can help shed light on where users are encountering obstacles.

What to Test: Landing Page Elements

Knowing how to test your landing pages is just as important as what you test. If you read Part 1: Design of our series, you likely have a good idea of how to design an effective landing page. But all brands are different and their audiences behave differently—so what are the As and Bs in your A/B tests? What are the variables in your multivariate tests?

  • Call to Action (CTA) Placement: While it is a common practice to place your CTA toward the top of the page, it can also be effective in the middle or bottom of the page. It all depends on how you want your visitor to consume the information, and then visually lead them to the conversion step.
  • Button Copy: In a study conducted by ContentVerve, a one-word adjustment in button copy yielded nearly a 40 percent increase in conversions. There is a significant difference between “Get Information” and “Order Information,” so experiment with button copy to unearth opportunities like these.
  • Headlines: While a strong headline typically promotes the main offer of your landing page, you can also experiment with sub-headlines and bullet points to reinforce key ideas in your headlines.
  • Amount of Information: Depending on how complex or simple your promotion or offer is, try providing different amounts of information on your landing page to entice your visitors to convert most efficiently.
  • Types of Promotions and Offers: The type of promotion or offer you’re advertising can have an impact on your PPC campaign’s performance. Not getting enough sign-ups for your free trial offer? Try a discounted, long-term membership. Or even an interactive demo to get them started.
  • Images: Experiment with different types of images in your tests. While clip art might work for some companies, your site might be better suited to clean graphical elements or photos. The images you use create the visual feel of your landing page and of your brand, so don’t settle for sub-optimal images when this simple change can yield a measurable impact.

If your ad campaigns aren’t paying for themselves, there’s likely much room for improvement, and systematically identifying weaknesses in your landing pages can have a huge impact on your ROI. As we mentioned in last week’s article on landing page design, few brands thoroughly optimize their landing pages. And in the long run, they are probably paying for it.

Outperform your competition by constantly testing and refining your content to build a solid foundation for future promotions and campaigns. And of course, testing goes hand-in-hand with measurement techniques, which you’ll use to evaluate the overall success of your PPC ad network placements. Come back next week to learn more about this topic in the final installment of our series, Optimizing Landing Pages for Effective Online Advertising.

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