• August 27, 2007
  • By Jessica Tsai, Assistant Editor, CRM magazine

This Landing Is Your Landing -- So Make It Count

SiteTuners.com, a Web-site testing firm and a division of Epic Sky, Inc., announced today the launch of its enhanced product, DesignTuning. The new release, which offers a technology known as TuningEngine to help a company test millions of alternative Web-site layouts, aims to increase customer conversion rates through landing-page optimization, according to Tim Ash, president of both SiteTuners.com and Epic Sky. For years, marketers have focused only on the goal of drawing eyeballs to a Web site--but they always seem to drop the (eye)ball before achieving conversion. Before the purpose of landing pages were fully understood, "ads, emails, searches, and so forth simply directed people to a home page," says Stefan Tornquist, research director for MarketingSherpa. As the Web-site landing page increasingly becomes the face of a company, however, marketers have come to see that they must ensure that it is as strong as possible, in order to increase conversion rates. Tornquist says that, within the past three years, "it's really moved from something few marketers were aware of and paying attention to, and has become one of the standard concerns for online markers." Before deploying the testing, SiteTuners.com conducts an interview with the client company. From there, the firm is able to gauge what the company wants and how its workflow operates -- and, subsequently, able to suggest the best elements to test. Web sites may have, for example, a headline, sales copy, call-to-action button, or a registration form for customers to fill out--and during the testing process those components are rotated into various positions. Over the course of one to two months, DesignTuning collects data on Web-site activity to come up with the best possible layout, determined by the highest number of customer conversions. "After we've gathered enough statistics, we can say, 'Okay, this is the headline you should use combined with this button color,' etc., and that's going to give you an improvement over your original version," Ash says. Essentially, the testing is monitoring the correlation between the site and the customer's behavior and presenting it as actionable data. "We don't just measure passively what's going on on your site," he says. Landing pages are intended to link the customer directly from interest to attainment--and Web-site operators better know how to live up to customers' expectations. "Everybody talks about relevance in [the customer's] search experience, but there's been a big disconnect. You basically promise people one thing in your search results and when they get to your landing page, there's no connection to what you promised them," Ash says. "You're kind of breaking a promise." When brought to a plain-vanilla landing page, many customers are frustrated by the need to search again for the product or offer they've come looking for. "For some small and medium-sized businesses, they make the choice to have landing pages that are sort of generic for varieties of campaigns," Tornquist says. He adds, "They try to make their dollars go further by perhaps testing one landing page and using that for search, email, and Web ads." While this may seem logical, the nonspecific page wastes a significant amount of time and damages the customer experience. "Most of the time, it's worth the extra expense to make those landing pages for every different medium and lever possible, and every different product or offer," Tornquist says. When a customer reacts positively to a targeted landing page, the company will see that they are "more likely to be receptive to your message and to do what you want them to do," Ash says. Perhaps, then, the biggest challenge for SiteTuners.com is making businesses aware of the need for direct and efficient landing pages. "[SiteTuners.com] improved the conversion rate of our site by a stunning 40 percent with its exclusive TuningEngine technology," said Charlie Silver, CEO of RealAge.com, in a statement. Overall, Ash reports that he has seen SiteTuner improve conversions by anywhere from 20 to 70 percent. Furthermore, Ash describes how some landing-page optimization services provide only an upfront payment option, regardless of success. But he has found that giving companies the option of paying based on performance has been much more successful in cushioning adoption. Ash assures that this forces SiteTuner to "put its money where its mouth is." Tornquist advises marketers to engage in periodic testing to ensure that the Web site continues to behave at an optimal performance level. By consistently monitoring the results of a page and keeping the Web site up to date with the ongoing changes of the company itself, companies will undoubtedly see the gains, he says. In fact, Tornquist adds, marketers "will find the more rigorous, more demanding test cycles will ultimately pay off." [Correction: Earlier versions of this article incorrectly referred to the SiteTuners.com brand name. DestinationCRM.com regrets the error.]
Related articles: Accenture Ranks the Top 5 Web Sites in Consumer Experience The consultancy announces a new Web-site marketing service to help companies drive loyalty and sales. Tech Solution: Internet Marketing Solutions Business Problem: Marketers lack the ability to launch targeted, analytics-driven marketing campaigns online. Feature: Screen Testing Marketers can make more opportunities by testing to facilitate performance decisions, rather than going on intuition. The question is, which test is best? Market Focus: E-Retail: Buying Into the Customer Experience The retailers that focus on delivering a seamless customer experience have a markedly stronger chance of cultivating customer loyalty. Little Business, Big Web The Web remains an unexplored frontier for many small businesses, but realized value for small companies may soon drive a surge of online colonization, according to a report. Feature: Endless Possibilities Web designers now enjoy unlimited site enrichment tools, which will help companies take e-commerce sites to new levels as broadband adoption rates soar.
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