Archive for the ‘Research Topics’ Category

The 5 Major Factors to Look for When Evaluating a Website

April 23rd, 2015 No comments

Recently, MECLABS Institute, parent company of MarketingExperiments, distributed an internal survey to find out what elements or factors people consider when evaluating a website for the following attributes:

  • Appearance of the website
  • Clarity of the information provided
  • Timeliness of completing purchase
  • Ease of placing an order or making account changes on the site
  • Ease of navigating the website

To do this, the team that distributed the survey asked five open questions and allowed responders to answer them as they chose. After each question, they asked the responders to rank their top three factors or elements that correlated with the question asked.

In total, there were 13 anonymous responders that the team estimated were almost evenly split between MECLABS’ content production team and our services department, which actively builds, tests and evaluates websites on a daily basis.

After the distribution team received the results, they looked at the most commonly mentioned element or function and determined which elements are the most important when reviewing a website.

They took the results and used a word cloud to visually represent the answers. To that end, the three most commonly mentioned factors on the whole survey were:


When looking at the totality of a website, people want information that is clear and easy to understand while allowing them to see the value of the website and its services.

In order to find out the important elements or factors that affect the evaluation of a webpage, the distribution team asked the following questions and received the following answers.

Note: The answers to each of the following survey questions have been broken into categories. These categories were not part of the survey’s original questions but are themes determined by the distribution team in order to organize the results.

Also, the question and answers concerned with layout (located under “Appearance of the website”) are different than the category layout. The question and answers refer to the layout of a webpage as a whole, whereas the layout category refers to the layout of that specific element of a website.


Appearance of the website

What factors or elements do you consider when judging the appearance of a website?


  • Whitespace, visual spacing of elements, balanced elements, minimalistic, simplicity, organization of information, clear eye path, easily scannable


  • Clear funnel, easy to find what I’m looking for, clean navigation, thought sequence


  • Value, clarity, typos, readability, clear and concise copy, clarity of message


  • Color, real versus stock images, pleasing to the eye, aesthetically pleasing, datedness, modern


  • Functionality, up-to-date framework

The most common factor when determining the appearance of a website is its layout. It’s important to balance visual elements with the whitespace of the webpage to create a clear eye path that directs you into the elements you really want people to spend more time viewing.

Layout was the most commonly used term when answering this question, but another equally important factor mentioned by the responders was how dated versus how modern a website is.

You can have a great layout, but if it doesn’t age well, it will negatively affect the overall feel of your website. Be sure to talk with your designers about new design trends and which ones you should incorporate into your webpage.


Clarity of information provided  

What factors or elements do you consider when judging the clarity of information on a website?


  • Easy to read, language used, confusing words, voice, language that is easy to understand


  • Size and spacing, proper use of spacing, format and layout of text, presentation of content, aesthetically pleasing, organization of content, images and illustrations to understand complex information


  • Syntax and grammar, credibility, evidentials, quantification

Amount of content/Flow of content

  • Amount of detail, value, brevity, relevancy, simplicity, scannability, clear headlines/sub headlines and supporting content, bold messaging/hierarchy of content

The most common factor in determining the clarity of information on a website is (no surprise here) content.

One responder stated:

Is the content legible and easy to read? If we don’t have this, then internalizing that information will be much more difficult. Typography choices can affect this significantly. Serif fonts are better on the eyes for large blocks of text versus titles, for example. If the material is dense, is it digestible through use of appropriate headings and sub headings? Voice is also important. Generally speaking, a message that can be conveyed in few words is better than more as well.

Make sure your writing is easy to read, and placed in a layout that allows the website visitor to easily scan the page for the most important information to them.


Timeliness of completing purchase

What factors or elements in regards to time on a site affect your satisfaction with that site?


  • Does it work, load time, intuitive functionality, quick load/response times, working/functioning properly

Pages/Time to complete transaction

  • Page numbers required, quick checkout, time to complete transaction

Ease of navigating

  • Easy to find what I’m looking for, get what I was looking for, relevance, easily find answers, ease of adding to cart, ease of finding product


  • Other relevant products to browse, allows for easy viewing, purchasing multiple items in one place


  • Amount of content, informative, confusion, quick and easy to understand message

The most important element that affects the time users spent on the site was functionality. Does the site work? How quickly can I find what I am looking for? Does the site use breadcrumbs to lead users to answers of frequently asked questions about your products or services?

To that end, another important factor is convenience:

 I will spend much more time on a website if I am also interested in other products that I may not need, but I may as well purchase them now while I’m here. The convenience is a huge factor here, and the ability to make one purchase for all of my needs will trump nine out of 10 websites, as long as the cost is within a feasible range.


Ease of placing an order on a website

What factors or elements do you consider when judging the ease of placing your order or making account changes on a website?


  • Does it work, expedited payment options, one-click purchase, ability to autofill information, remembering my information


  • Security and validation issues, security, protected information, security of process


  • Easy to pay, easy to add to cart, length of process, amount of steps, simplicity of process, easy access to account settings, asking necessary information for order, clear steps and navigation


  • Design, scanability, spacing and clarity to avoid clutter


  • Visible cart, clear summary of when I should receive my order, clear price displayed on my charge, review order page, confirmation page, simplicity, CTA clarity

The shopping cart adds factors from the three previous elements, with the most important factor being functionality.

Does the website make it clear what I have to do in order to purchase a product? Is what I have to do and why easily displayed in a correct layout that leads you down the purchasing funnel after you’ve decided to make a purchase?

These elements affect bounce rates as well as the time it takes to complete an order. Invest in making your shopping cart experience as seamless as possible.


Ease of navigation on a website

What factors or elements do you consider when judging the ease of navigating on a website?


  • No pop ups, search functionality


  • Visibility of all relevant content, clarity of what the categories are for navigation, number of options, type of options, sequence of options, hierarchy, few clicks as possible to get to what I need, simplicity, sight navigation, structural organization, easy to find navigation tool


  • Breadcrumbs, amount of information, concise words, clear, intuitive, ease of moving backward, simplicity

According to our responders, a website’s navigation should be intuitive without the use of pop-ups or java over-lays. It should be logical with clarity concerning what the categories are for navigation, and the user should able to easily find the main navigation piece of the website.

Simple navigation is key. It should appear throughout the website regardless of what page it’s on.


Note: The internal survey mentioned in this post was based off of a 2015 J.D. Powers survey on wireless purchase experience.


You might also like

B2B Web Optimization: 140% surge in mobile transactions through responsive design effort (MarketingSherpa case study)

New Chart: Best website design, management and optimization tactics for 2011 (MarketingSherpa case study)

20 Steps to the Perfect Website Layout (from Creative Bloq)

The Big Web Design Trends for 2015 (from 99 Designs)

40+ Best Examples of Shopping Cart Page Designs (from MonsterPost)

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How to Improve Email Performance by Using the Right Words in the Right Order

April 16th, 2015 2 comments

Email is more important than ever before. Consider these statistics:

However, even if you have the finest email distribution technology reaching the most thoughtfully developed and segmented email list, if the recipient deletes the email instantly, it’s all for naught. In contrast, if recipients consistently open your emails, read them and take action, you’ll see results.

That’s why knowing how to write a strong email subject line is critical.

Fortunately, you don’t have to be an expert copywriter to do it. You just need to know the elements that have been proven to drive more opens and clickthroughs.

To find out what they are, be sure to watch the most recent MarketingExperiments Web clinic. It examines multiple subject line experiments and several live tests, while outlining what worked, what didn’t and why. Within 30 minutes, you’ll have the knowledge you need to start writing winning subject lines.

We’ll examine two experiments from the clinic here:


Background: A regional marketing commission that has been anonymized.

Goal: To raise awareness of local activities and events to increase the number of travelers and tourists.

Research Question: Which subject line will generate the most opens and clickthrough?

Test Design: A/B split test (protected)

Note: Boston was the substitute city used for this presentation.


Experiment #1


The Control asked recipients if they’re a fall foodie and then invited them to see what’s going on in the region.

The Treatment used words that are tangible; you can almost taste the flavors of the city. This tempted recipients by immediately inviting them to partake in a uniquely Bostonian dining experience.

Read more…

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How Design Impacts User Experience: Reducing anxiety by infusing your page with value

April 13th, 2015 4 comments

In the age of free content, how can you capture leads and foster a relationship with people that consume the articles, videos and updates on your site?

Site design and the quality of content you produce can strongly influence the way that people engage with your site.

Using an example from the Harvard Business Review, we can see an example of a layout infused with value for the user.

First, the Harvard Business Review lets users read up to five articles before asking for a commitment. This allows visitors to get a sense of the breadth and quality of content so they can ensure that they’re getting a valuable experience.

Let’s review the overall look, feel and strategy of its registration process and design as well as examine how it impacts the visitor throughout the registration process.


Paywall page

After reading the fifth article, the user is given two options: Register for free in exchange for more information, or subscribe to the all-access version.

Let’s take a look at how the page is laid out.


First, look at the white space.

Can you feel the fresh air?

S – p – a – c – e

The simplicity of the page creates a “no pressure” feeling and lets the visitor know that they aren’t seeing an ad or being urged to make a decision.

However, you can clearly see the two defined calls-to-action, separated by a thin gray line.

Both sides indicate some level of value. However, the paid option has an image and lists several more bullet points worth of advantages over the free option.

Read more…

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A/B Testing: What choices does your content really influence?

April 9th, 2015 No comments

Some tests and their results provide the opportunity to open up bigger discussions.

They are true diamonds in the rough that reveal some interesting insights about not only customers, but also us. I don’t know about you, but sometimes a small look inward can have a big impact out the look outward.

In today’s MarketingExperiments blog post, I wanted to share with you an interesting experiment from a recent Web clinic that increased lead rate 331% by optimizing the company’s value exchange experience with prospects.


Background: Migraine Treatment Centers of America offers an innovative long-term migraine treatment solution to people suffering from migraines.

Goal: To increase leads from the microsite.

Primary Research Question: Which value exchange strategy will result in a higher conversion rate?

Test Design: A/B multifactor split


The MECLABS Institute research team hypothesized that one of the biggest problems with the control was it did not effectively connect momentum created by the content to the next logical step in the conversion process.

Simply put, the site had content and it had calls-to-action, but the problem was a substantial break in continuity between them.

  Read more…

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Permission Pass Email Send: A proven method for cleaning your mailing list

April 2nd, 2015 No comments

If you are reading this, you are likely in one of two positions:

  1. You have decided it is time to cleanse your email list of the inactive subscribers that no longer engage with your email sends, or …
  2. You need to stay compliant with your email management software (EMS), and you are being required to send your subscribers a permission pass to keep emailing them. A permission pass is a one-time send to an email list to reconfirm permission to email.

If you are in the latter position, don’t panic. This is actually a good opportunity to clean up your list and increase engagement with your current list.

At MarketingExperiments, our team recently did just that. We sent out a permission pass email to clean our list of inactive subscribers (which only drag down our rates).

We decided to run a test on the permission pass email based off of a previous blog that Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content, MarketingSherpa, wrote back in September for a re-engagement campaign MarketingExperiments implemented after the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation. While this campaign was not a permission pass, it was similar, and we were able to work off the findings from that campaign to formulate the test discussed in this blog post.

The main objective of the test was to see if subscribers would be more willing to opt back in with us if we offered them an incentive. While discovering that incentives were not valuable to inactive subscribers, our team also uncovered some valuable takeaways that will be quite insightful for any future permission pass sends.


Treatment #1. General Value

Treatment #1 focused on reminding subscribers of the value they would continue to receive with MarketingExperiments. 


Treatment #2. General Value and Incentive Offering

Treatment #2 also communicated a reminder of the value subscribers would continue to receive with MarketingExperiments. Additionally, it alerted them that by opting back in with MarketingExperiments, they would be entered to win a free MECLABS online training course.

Read more…

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Mobile Marketing: What a 34% increase in conversion rate can teach you about optimizing for video

March 26th, 2015 2 comments

Video is emerging as the new darling of content marketing, and it makes sense.

As a medium, video delivers information customers want about a business quickly and inexpensively thanks to ever-evolving tech.

But how does using video in your marketing strategy stack up when you add the complexity of rendering across multiple devices?

Throw a smartphone or tablet into the mix, and your customer experience can get messy fast.

So in today’s MarketingExperiments Blog post, I wanted to share with you an interesting experiment from our latest Web clinic that increased conversion 34% by putting video to the test in a multidevice experience.

Now before we drive on any further, let’s look at the background on the experiment:


Background: A company offering a variety of dieting programs and memberships with the goal of helping their audience lead a healthier lifestyle.

Goal: To increase landing page membership conversions on mobile and tablet devices.

Primary Research Question: Which use of video will generate the highest conversion rate?

Test Design: A/B variable cluster 


Here are screenshots of the Control and  Treatments on mobile and tablet:



In the Control above, the MECLABS research team hypothesized that the design overall fails to deeply connect the video content with the audience. The team reasoned that a connection to the authority was missing (the personal source behind the content), which would give a visitor the motivation to engage.

The Treatments utilize a few design layouts to help build the missing  authority and rapport with users.    

Read more…

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