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Oct 22, 2008
Case Study

Four Strategies to Bend Rules on Landing Pages and Double Conversion Rates

SUMMARY: Best practices for landing page design call for providing a clear call to action and limiting navigation options. But many B2B marketers must appeal to multiple members of a buying committee.

How can you make sure you’re offering the right content to those different prospects? A software marketer tested a new approach to landing pages that bent the rules slightly and doubled conversion rates.
CHALLENGE

Eric Myers, Director, Internet Marketing, Quest Software, wanted to punch up his lead-generation campaign results. He zeroed in his landing pages that needed some tweaks.

Many of the landing pages Quest used for white papers and software demos were bare-bones – just a few lines of text and a gray download button. He wanted to improve them, but felt that many of the best practices were better suited for a B-to-C environment.

“You’re told to strip out all other navigation options and provide a single call to action, but for us it really doesn’t work that way,” says Myers. “We offer 16 to 20 products in active directory space alone. If we don’t use a little more room on our pages, we may lose the ability to show prospects a larger solution set.”

Myers and his team wondered whether bending the rules to create landing and product overview pages that featured a primary call to action as well as secondary, related links could improve conversion rates.

CAMPAIGN

Myers and his team ran a series of landing page tests that mixed content offerings along with different layout and navigation options. Their goal: create a hierarchy of desired prospect actions.

On each page, they wanted to highlight the primary call to action while offering relevant, secondary actions that might appeal to prospects at different stages of their product research or with different roles in a buying committee.

Four strategies they used during their testing series:

Strategy #1. Make primary call to action highly visible

For landing pages, the team picked one piece of content as the primary marketing asset. Depending on the page and the campaign, the primary asset could be:
o Free trial software download
o White paper
o Webcast registration

Next, they experimented with layout and graphical elements that drew prospects to that primary asset. For example:

- Rather than a small gray button or text link, they tested a large, yellow “Download Free Trial” button.

- That button was placed either at the top of the page, or in the center-left of the page, to catch prospects’ attention.

The team sought to create “mouse gravity,” says Myers. “We want to make it big and easy to click. It also reinforces the visual hierarchy: ‘This is the primary task we’re asking you to perform.’”

Strategy #2. Include secondary offer

The goal of the landing page was prospect downloads of the primary asset. But the team tested whether a second offering would attract clicks from prospects needing more information. For example, some prospects weren’t ready (or authorized) to download a software trial, and the team didn’t want to lose them.

“We want to give them another vine to swing to,” he said.

The team tested a secondary, “sub-offer” that was highly relevant to the primary asset.

Secondary offerings included:
o White papers
o Video demonstrations
o Product data sheets

- Secondary offerings were placed either to the right of or below the primary asset to reinforce the page hierarchy.

- Calls-to-action for sub-offers were smaller than the primary call-to-action, but also highlighted. For example, the team used blue, underlined links to encourage clicks.

Strategy #3. Create information hierarchy for product overview pages

The team conducted similar tests with its product-overview pages. These pages contained several long paragraphs of text about the product, and included links to several types of marketing collateral.

Myers’ team thought the existing design was cluttered, and the calls-to-action buried. But they wanted to reorganize the page to include a mix of resources that would appeal to different members of the buying committee and encourage the most clicks.

They tested a “pyramid” design that, like the landing pages, featured one primary asset and call to action at the top of the page. A second row of assets and calls-to-action was arranged below.

- The team chose a primary asset based on the action they most wanted prospects to take, such as downloading a software trial. Text was broken into shorter bullets and sentences to break up the long paragraphs of the existing page.

The call to action was clearly indicated with a graphic element, such as a large button.

- The second tier of the pyramid focused on three or four related marketing assets, such as:
o White papers
o Technical specification documents
o Video demonstrations
o Links to other relevant pages, such as online communities or customer support

Calls to action for the second tier were also made more prominent, using blue, underlined links.

Strategy #4. Conduct A/B tests

To test variations, the team chose A/B rather than multivariate tests because of the relatively low volume of search traffic to these pages. The volume made it difficult to generate statistically reliable data from multivariate tests.

“The A/B tests split traffic between the standard design and the new layout. Their goal was to run tests until they reached at least 100 conversions to achieve statistically valid results. Depending on the traffic to the particular product page or landing page, it took between three and six months to get conclusive data.”


RESULTS


o Overall Web conversion rates have doubled across the site, since testing new designs that offered a hierarchy of primary calls-to-action and secondary offers.

o A strong culture of testing within the company has developed.

“We were damn happy,” says Myers. “We’re in a process right now of tough economic times. It’s not like we’re going to have more money to spend on advertising, so we have to be very good at making due with what we have.”

For example, the team conducted an A/B test of landing page variations for the company’s free trial download of Recovery Manager for Active Directory:
o Page with no sub-offer = 9.09% conversion rate
o Page with white paper sub-offer = 17.97% conversion rate

The team also conducted an A/B test of the company’s Archive Manager product overview page:
o Standard product overview page = 7.5% conversion rate
o Pyramid format product overview page = 11.6% conversion rate

By establishing a primary asset and making that call to action the most prominent element on the page, the team has been able to support their major marketing goals. But providing relevant, secondary actions helps capture additional visitor registrations from prospects that might not be interested in accepting that offer but still want to learn more about the product in question.

“We didn’t completely ditch the conventional wisdom,” says Myers. “I can totally tell what is most important on this page, but we gave them another thing to do.”

With a strong culture of testing now established, they continue to tweak elements and adopt similar tactics across the website.

“I’m fond of saying that good Web design never ends, it just begins again. We are never going to be finished with this stuff,” says Myers. “As long as we’re making incremental improvements on these iterations, we’ll keep doing it.”

Useful links related to this article:

Creative Sample for Quest Software Landing Page and Product Overview Page Tests
http://www.marketingsherpa.com/cs/quest/study.html


Quest Software
http://www.quest.com



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