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Search Engine Marketing Optimization: How simultaneous testing increased PPC clickthrough 427% for an ecommerce company [Video]

Ryan Hutchings, VacationRoost



When it comes to testing, it's easy for smaller landing pages and PPC ads to get lost in the optimization mix. It makes sense. Making sure your homepage and shopping cart work is more important than monitoring your SEO landing page, right?

According to Ryan Hutchings, Director of Marketing, VacationRoost, that's not the case.

Hutchings was one of the speakers at MarketingSherpa MarketingExperiments Web Optimization Summit 2014, where he presented on the two testing methodologies his company, VacationRoost, used to increase total conversion by 12%. VacationRoost is a vacation rental wholesaler.

Because VacationRoost grew to be an aggregation of several smaller companies, the company currently has many different websites and Web properties that it has to maintain. Though it sounds intimidating, for Hutchings, it’s perfect for testing. "For a marketer, it's ideal because I have this whole entire playground to essentially do whatever I want with, and we have a lot of control in my company as far as the marketing team goes," he said.

In order to optimize their testing and make full use of VacationRoost's large Web presence, Hutchings' team utilizes a dual testing track that simultaneously runs small and large tests. Small tests are classified as:
  • PPC and SEO landing pages

  • Headlines and CTAs

  • Images

Conversely, large tests cover:
  • Search results

  • Cart

  • Products

Learn how Hutchings and his team structured these small tests to optimize the smaller elements of the company's Web presence.

Step #1. Decide what to test

The team keeps a manual spreadsheet in Excel to keep track of every request for testing that comes in for the company. These requests are divided into categories and assigned a percentage based on how confident the marketing team is that each test will result in a gain.

Step #2. Identify the target conversion goal

Speaking specifically about bounce rate, Hutchings utilizes a gauge system. "Anything over the 50% [mark] is on death row," he said.

Generally, Hutchings and his team try to keep the bounce rate at 30% or lower for most pages.

When it comes to small single page tests, such as PPC landing pages, Hutchings recommended focusing on a single element, such as clickthrough or bounce rate.

Step #3. Create a hypothesis

All hypotheses are created and justified with the MECLABS patented conversion heuristic in mind:

C = 4m + 3v + 2(i – f) – 2a

To learn more about what factors encourage and prevent conversion, read "Landing Page Optimization: 5 factors that lead to (and prevent) conversion."

Step #4. Design and launch the treatment

For VacationRoost, these treatments tend to focus on large site redesigns rather than small changes.

According to Hutchings, "In our organization, it's less about swapping out a single element β€” even though you can still see those big gains. We want to see something like this on a single page. Otherwise you start running into, 'Is it worth my time?'"

Step #5. Analyze results and calculate ROI

Every small test that VacationRoost runs is validated and tracked by a third-party validation tool, Hutchings said. "So I don't have to spend any more time kind of running through our technical implementation or anything like that," he added.

Watch the full session to learn how to broaden your optimization sphere and simultaneously test large and small projects.

Related Resources

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