Landing page testing is (and should be) a widely used optimization technique for all forms of media. There are many best practices used across a number of business organizations, some that are specific to certain verticals and others that are applicable to only a few clients. In our experience, the tips below can be applied across all clients and built into your testing process (if they don’t already exist).
1 Failure is an option
This must be a backbone of any form of testing, simply because you don’t know what will work best. This is why you are testing. Not every element you test will work, and some that work on one channel won’t work on another. Your clients (internal or external) need to understand that some experiences won’t always work. Just make sure you can take something from a losing creative. Determining losers quickly doesn’t hurt either.
2 Sequential Testing
We are referring here to tests where one version is given a certain amount of time to run and then another version goes live (version A for week one, version B for week two). Occasionally this method cannot be avoided, but when you can – avoid it. By using this method, you introduce too many potential complications into what is impacting your creative; like seasonality, PR, viral traffic, etc. Instead use a tool that can split traffic to the desired creative versions. This will limit complications and provide clearer results.
3 Big vs. Little (A/B vs. MVT)
You want to test so many things on your landing pages. We do too. That said, A/B/n testing is best used on large-scale changes to a page. If you introduce all the elements you want, you have too many versions to test and most likely not enough traffic to go around (at least in a reasonable amount of time). Multivariate (MVT) is great for then refining the winner(s) from your A/B test by finding the most favorable elements within that winner.
What do you want your visitor to accomplish? Have a clear call to action telling them what you want, then limit the steps to get to that point. Everything important should be above the fold. Keep unnecessary elements to a minimum. Limiting distractions can go a long way to increasing your conversion rate.
You are already testing messaging in your emails and ad copy. Does it match what a visitor then sees on the landing page? They don’t need to be exactly the same, but your visitor shouldn’t be seeing a completely different message and call to action. They came to your site based on one message; supporting it can help improve your conversion rate.
Make sure your results are statistically significant. Without this, you’re still making an educated guess at best. We like to give a little time even after our results have reached statistical significance, just to make sure.
7 Focus on one conversion
One main conversion should be the focus of your landing page. Adding multiple conversion points can potentially decrease conversion rate. If multiple conversions are important, consider multi-step processes after the main conversion is reached.
8 Dedicated Designers/Developers
Great designers and developers can make your testing process much more efficient. Not to mention look more professional and have fewer performance issues. When they are dedicated to your testing initiatives, it becomes easier to share ideas, bring ideas to life faster and get better feedback on testing plans.
How are visitors viewing your landing page? If they use a mobile device, you should consider a distinct version that is customized to that experience. Same goes for Apple and PC. Depending on the functionality of your page, you may also want to customize for browsers.
10 Leave it live
Once a winning landing page is determined, the other versions are often all turned off. Instead, if you have a new winner, consider keeping your old winner active, just limit the traffic to a smaller portion of the total traffic. This helps in two areas. The first is it keeps any legacy links alive; if a landing page is live for a few years, many sites may link to it. Taking down the page could create broken links and limit the number of conversion your site captures. The second area is showing you visibility over time into performance. Do metrics of your new winner remain consistently higher every month/season/holiday, etc?
There are a ton of other ideas and best practices. What are your favorites?