Generally speaking, optimization tests should run on high-traffic pages. “Why,” you ask? Well, the more traffic a page receives, the more data its test is likely to yield—and the more data you have, the more educated your marketing strategy can be, which increases the chances you boost engagement, conversions, and revenue.
Most companies, no matter the industry, get the most traffic in three places: on the homepage, in some kind of conversion funnel (e.g., a checkout funnel), and on product pages. All three of these locations, however, have different requirements for strategy. Let’s explore each one and go over its specific keys for good optimization.
No Place Like the Homepage
A site’s homepage receives a lot of traffic from a wide range of visitors, who may be anywhere from ‘cold’ prospects to ‘sold’ return purchasers. These users could be members with logins or first-time visitors directed from a Google search; they could be active (or “sticky”) users, who regularly use or engage with your site, or passive users, who use “browse but [do] not interact” (Corporate Eye).
High visitor diversity means navigation must be clear and simple, accounting for people’s different goals and needs. This brings us to the first key to homepage optimization: a good navigation menu, which should have clear sections, use concise, goal-oriented language, and help users easily reach the page(s) they need. A good nav-menu removes ambiguity about where visitors need to go to complete x task or get y information.
A good navigation menu should have clear sections, use concise, goal-oriented language, and help users easily reach the page(s) they need.
The second key is an easy point of entry for prospects and customers. There should be an obvious way for returning users to log in to their accounts; likewise, prospects should find it easy to sign up, explore, and learn what they need to learn before making a decision about converting. A good way to entice prospects is to give them a quick sample of your products and services before they invest the time in signing up. For example, a financial institution could have a site widget that generates new credit card suggestions based on data users can quickly input themselves, like credit score, ideal interest rate range, and ideal spending limit.
The third key here is the presentation of popular or promotional information. A homepage should feature direct links to the most clicked-on or purchased products, as well as properly designed promotions for discounts, deals, and sales.
Form Fills and Funnels
To clarify: A funnel is any series of tasks or pages that drives users toward some kind of conversion, be it a purchase, a quote request, the creation of a new account, or something else. Your main goal should be to move users through any funnel as fast as you can.
On this note, the first key to funnel optimization is speed. Keep things short! Whether they’re applying for an insurance quote or signing up for prime membership on a retail site, users hate two things: filling out forms that are too long, and giving out too much personal information at once. We’ve written about both topics before on this blog—consider pre-filling forms when possible, as well as assuring customers you are not collecting Personally Identifiable Information. Long story short, though, ask for a minimum of personal information, and break up the form-filling process by grouping fields into subsections.
Users hate two things: filling out forms that are too long, and giving out too much personal information at once.
The second relevant key here is to control the information you show. Not all users have to see the same form fields. Since your database will have more information about returning users, it’s usually easier to automatically generate or hide the right questions for this group. You can ask returning visitors, for example, to review the data they’ve previously input (Is the user still the primary policyholder, married, with two kids?) instead of reentering it.
For new users, you may want to hide follow-up fields or quests until users input the main relevant data. Why show a non-married user insurance questions about non-existent spouse, for instance? Too many fields overwhelm as it is, so removing the ones that are irrelevant to certain users is a smart move.
Short and Sweet Product Pages
Product pages are a vital piece of the marketing puzzle: Users who access them are interested enough to learn more about your offerings, so your job is to educate them on these pages to the point they want to convert. It’s generally true that the more educated a user is, the more likely she is to enter the funnel.
Design is the first key to optimizing product pages. Layout should highlight the most useful information while still giving users clear links to click if they wish to learn even more. CTAs should be large and easy to find, as these are often the links that directly take people to the start of a conversion funnel. You should also include a conversion widget that enables users to achieve their primary task, be that to book a flight, apply for a credit card, or add items to the cart.
Layout should highlight the most useful information while still giving users clear links to click if they wish to learn even more.
Content is the second key. Messaging should be strong and positive, with user benefits clearly outlined. Long or text-heavy pages should be avoided, since these probably won’t hold users’ attention and could discourage them from converting. However, if you need to be thorough, think about dynamic content displays; these only show detailed product data after users deliberately trigger that data to appear. This keeps content minimal but open for deeper exploration, which helps prospects educate themselves at their own pace.
That’s my advice! Run your tests on the highest-traffic pages of your website to get the most data you can, which boosts the odds you’ll get data learnings that lead to uplift. Ready to optimize? Experiment on the homepage, in a conversion funnel, or on your product pages to get started.