Recently, I was asked to name the top three online marketing trends that marketers may want to start testing in the first quarter of 2008.
As I sat down and started to ponder possible answers, I realized that there was a much more pressing issue at hand, namely that most marketers don’t do nearly enough testing of anything at all in the first place.
This is unacceptable. Here we are with all of these analytics tools, and instead, I see so many websites that keep slugging along with the same terrible conversion paths, the same unusable shopping carts, the same all-purpose landing pages for their PPC ads, and I wonder – why aren’t marketers testing for more effective formats?
One reason is because 90% of marketers are blind to the issues and probably already think they’re doing it right. As Shari Thurow so eloquently put it in a recent LED Digest quote:
That first usability test I did? At that moment, reality was staring me in the face: people do not think the way I do. People do not act the way I do.
Another reason why many marketers may not engage in testing is because they haven’t personally experienced the enormous benefits in terms of ROI. As noted by Eric Enge:
A/B testing and/or multivariate testing is one of the best ways to improve results for your Web site. Only a small percentage of Web site owners invest in this effort, yet there are few things that offer a bigger return on investment.
Instead of assuming you know what is best for your site, you need to open your eyes and start paying attention to your users. Follow your visitors. Examine your click paths. Look at what converts and what doesn’t. Don’t assume: TEST.
Think about it. Have you tried any of the following lately?
- Examined click paths through your site to find common obstacles to conversion
- Tested different ways to simplify your checkout process
- Compared sign up pages to see which formats get the most submissions
- Taken stock of every element on your homepage, and tested which layouts have the lowest bounce rate
This post from MarketingExperimentsBlog.com notes three key factors to help decide what to test on your site:
- Optimize your Product Factors – What makes you different or better? If you don’t make this clear on every page of your site, with every product or service you are trying to sell, then good luck.
- Optimize your Presentation Factors – From A/B testing on the style of a single button to comprehensive conversion path analysis, this is where testing really comes into play.
- Optimize your Channel Factors – From link building to search engine optimization, this involves making sure you get found online – in the most efficient and cost-effective manner possible.
Note that channel optimization is the third and last step listed above. Since SEO is my bread and butter, I know I may be pushing the envelope a bit by saying this, but I really don’t want you to come to me for advice on how to get found on search engines if your site isn’t going to convert the traffic in the first place.
Your site deserves to succeed! You deserve to succeed. Start testing and improving today, and increase your conversions tomorrow. Guaranteed.