Landing Page Testing – One Page Does Not Fit All

Landing page optimization testing is an ideal way to improve your paid search campaigns. Finding ways to rebuild your landing pages with stronger call to action links and better messaging can really improve your conversion rates but there may be other variables that can factor into your test results. Recently, SwellPath developed a series of paid search landing page tests for Jive Software, a company that makes social networking software for the enterprise, with a focus on improving conversion rates for B2B leads. I wanted to share some insight into how we built out these tests using Google Website Optimizer (GWO) and some of the high-level findings.

The first hurdle to overcome was the setup of the experiments themselves. Traditionally in GWO, you have your original or control page you are testing against and then your variation page. In this case, we only wanted very specific ad groups in the AdWords campaign to be directed to these experiments. If we just used the original landing page as the control page in the experiment, all ad groups pointing to that page would be included in the experiment. In order to only direct very specific ad groups into the experiment, we had to switch the order of the pages in the experiment and treat the variation page as the original, basically build out the experiment in reverse. By doing that, we could then change the destination URL in AdWords for those specific ad groups to point to the variation page and no other ad groups that were pointing to the original page would be affected.

The ad groups that we used in the 3 experiments were a sampling of visitors that were most likely in different phases of the buying cycle and had different awareness levels of Jive’s products.

Experiment A: Targeted ad groups that contained keywords that were the most broad in terms of their association with Jive Software’s products. It could also be stated that these visitors were potentially further out in the buying cycle and more in the research or exploration phase.

Experiment B: Targeted ad groups that contained keywords that were more in the middle in terms of knowledge of Jive’s products and knowledge of exactly what they were looking for.

Experiment C: Targeted ad groups that contained keywords that were the most specific of the 3 experiments, correlated more directly with Jive’s products and targeted visitors who were potentially further along in the buying cycle.

The variation page contained 3 highly targeted call to action links pointing visitors directly into a conversion point which was, in nearly all cases, a form page. The original or control pages contained lots of body copy, 3 call to action buttons on a sidebar and some text links within the body copy. The original pages allowed for more navigation outside of the conversion points and allowed visitors more freedom in their navigation paths.

The universal hypothesis was that pushing visitors directly toward a conversion point should ultimately increase the conversion rate. This was only the case in Experiment C which targeted visitors that were further in the buying cycle and had the best knowledge of Jive’s products. Experiment A generated exactly the opposite result and Experiment B was more or less an even split. Looking at the click path data for Experiment A, it was clear that visitors were resistant to being forced towards a specific conversion point as a very high percentage clicked on the only link that pointed to the site which was simply the Jive logo.

While all 3 experiments were generally identical, the biggest influence in the resulting data was the personas of the visitors coming from the various ad groups. The takeaway from this series of experiments is that you should consider your personas heavily as you develop your custom landing pages. Pushing visitors who are not ready to convert into a narrow conversion path can lead to deflection. One amazing landing page design does not always fit all. Building out different designs for different personas and mapping those landing pages to the personas you are targeting within your AdWords campaigns can help to gain the most success from your PPC campaigns and drive up your conversion rates.

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