October 23, 2008
How To

How Landing Page Optimization Boosts DRTV Responses: Key Steps, Tests, Takeaways

SUMMARY: Using television to drive online responses is still a work in progress for most organizations. Well-meaning TV commercials often push more prospects to the call center than to the Web.

Check out how a Canadian tourism brand used direct TV and landing page optimization to increase their online lead generation by 21%. Includes two big steps, four tests, and two major takeaways.
Jacqueline Simpson, Marketing Manager, Tourism British Columbia, and her team have tested direct TV campaigns for years. They added landing page optimization to the mix to get a 21% lift in their most important Web-based lead-gen metric – requests for vacation information kits.

“We were able to increase online inquiries by over 7,000 people compared to last year,” Simpson explains. But it wasn’t easy. Last season, they saw too many leads jumping ship before making a request.

“They were submitting a form page, where they had to type in their name and other personal information, so we could send them a print or electronic guide. What happens with any kind of activity like that is they tend to drop off before completion.”

How did Simpson and her team turn it around? They focused primarily on landing page optimization for their DRTV campaigns, which targeted the core demographic of 35-to-54-year-old, educated, high-income citizens in Toronto, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The big two steps they employed to produce the lift:

Step #1. Optimize landing pages

During the spring, before tourism season heats up, they used an A/B/C/D split to test four hypotheses on their DRTV landing-page template. “We mainly wanted to make the design more user-friendly and change the way we worded the permission questions.”

* Test #1. Fewer checkboxes would increase response*

Checkboxes are the third leading driver of opt-in tactics, according to MarketingSherpa’s Email Marketing Benchmark Guide 2009. And Simpson and her team wanted to challenge their template strategy of presenting three newsletter preference checkbox options.

They tested cutting the number of checkboxes in the template from three to two. For the test sample (two checkboxes), they removed the checkbox for signing up for more information from other tourism organizations.

The hypothesis: Reducing the number of checkboxes would increase the number of brochure requests. But that’s not what they learned. Three checkboxes easily outperformed two. Hence, they didn’t change that part of the template.

*Test #2. The more copy about benefits, the better*

Simpson wanted to see if more benefit-oriented copy around the checkboxes would increase requests.

For the checkbox asking permission from readers to send additional materials other than the vacation information, they tested the control copy from last year: “Tourism British Columbia may wish to contact you in the future. Do we have your permission to do so?”

The new test copy read: “Yes, I would like Tourism British Columbia to contact me in the future and notify me when new versions of the Travel Guides are published.” The latter version won out.

Then they tested the control copy for their newsletter opt-ins: “Sign up for our quarterly e-Newsletter with seasonal information about great places to go and fun things to do.”

The new test copy said, “Yes, I would like to receive the quarterly e-Newsletter with seasonal information about great places to go and fun things to do.”The new copy came out on top again.

In both examples, the winning copy replaced the control on the landing page. Simpson says they believe the ‘Yes’ versions worked so well because they provided better context for the content consumer would receive from them.

*Test #3. Add newsletter thumbnail*

They also wanted to see if a preview newsletter thumbnail would increase the opt-in rate. Viewers could click on the thumbnail to see a complete version of a newsletter.

The thumbnail appeared just above the fold, to the right of the checkboxes. In the sample with no thumbnail, the copy continued to flow to the right until the end of the page.

Giving viewers a sneak preview of the newsletter worked. The thumbnail outperformed the control sample, Simpson explains.

Hence, they implemented the feature. “Overall, we found that our new benefit-oriented copy with newsletter preview popup increased the opt-in conversion rate significantly.”

*Test #4. Move the permission box higher*

They also wanted to see if moving the permission box up in the template would increase the opt-in rate. Specifically, they brought the box up from far below the personal information section; it now appeared well above the landing page fold.

Simpson was surprised to see that the version with the permission box at the bottom outperformed the permission box at the top. As a result, they left the permission box in its initial place.

Step #2. Run DRTV ads

After the landing page was tweaked, they ran their DRTV campaign. Simpson and her team used a mix of 60- and 90-minute programs in the three major markets on specific TV channels:

- Toronto: CTV Global channel. They used the 60-minute ad 60% of the time and the 90-minute ad 40% of the time.

- Los Angeles: KNBC channel. They split up the two formats 50/50.

- San Francisco: KNTV. They split up the two formats evenly.

The spots were purchased for early morning and daytime, or ‘low-involvement’ programming hours. “These buys were based on our past successes,” she says.

In each instance, the ads’ call to action involved the landing page URL, www.Guide51.com, as well as the toll-free number. “We are getting better at combining landing pages and DRTV,” Simpson explains. “It is something that we will use again next year.”

The Two Big Takeaways

Tests nearly always provide general but important results. Indeed, Simpson and her team got two key takeaways from the landing page tests.

Takeaway #1. Landing pages optimization works.

“Landing pages are workhorses. On our landing page, you’ll find our copy and imagery across the top of the page is in step with our branding, and it impacts our core demographic. It’s a really hard-working Web page. It’s not about pretty pictures.”

Takeaway #2. Engage people concisely with landing page design.

“The wording needs to be friendly and inviting, and the imagery needs to show people what they are going to get. It’s more comforting than asking them to sign up for something where they will have no idea what they are receiving.”

Useful links related to this article

DRTV's Landing Page Samples:

WiderFunnel Marketing Inc. – their landing page optimization vendor:

Cossette Communications Group – helped run the DRTV campaign:

Google Listed Optimizer – the testing technology utilized:

Tourism British Columbia:

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