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Customer Response: The surprising reason why color matters

October 30th, 2014 No comments

Can something as simple as a change in color have an impact on whether a customer will use a search tool on a page?

Intuitively, we thought it did, but we really couldn’t be sure until we tested. This led us question this particular page for a large media brand:

 

The Variable Tested:  “I want to … ” search box

 

The page was a normal page layout with a white background. However,  we wanted to test the impact of color on the search box.

 

The Treatments: “I want to…” search box color variants

 

The Results: How did these changes impact clickthrough?

The treatment search box using a white background with red text design (Treatment 1 – example No. 2 in the above graphic) increased search clickthrough rate by 34.32%. Statistically speaking, there was no comparative difference in performance among the other colors.

 

We gained the following customer insight: The high contrast colors were having an unintended (and negative) effect on customers who would otherwise use the search tool.

All the treatments but Treatment 1, performed the same, and they significantly underperformed when compared to Treatment 1. The search bar with the same background color as the rest of the page (the one that blended in the most) was the winner of the test. What factor caused customers to skip over the higher-contrast search bars? By process of elimination, we can start to understand.

 

1. The difference was not due to the intrinsic properties of the specific colors

 

Any meaning customers attach to an abstract color is based on their own subjective or cultural experience. We can guess that the performance difference of the treatment colors was not overall due to cultural perceptions  because the red search box did not perform differently from the blue or teal search boxes — two families of colors that typically have opposite cultural meaning for the demographic we tested.

 

2. The difference was not due to brand affinity

For this particular brand, all the colors fit into the brand guidelines. However, the white background search bar outperformed the others, thus eliminating the possibility of strong brand association.

 

3. The difference was likely because of banner blindness

 

As we can see in the illustration above, banner blindness is a condition where customers instinctively overlook any element on a page that resembles a banner advertisement.

We think the higher contrasting colors were causing customers to mentally categorize the search box as a banner that was not actually a part of the content of the page.

By using less color contrast, the search box looked more like a tool on the page and less like a banner.

Ultimately, we learned that customers were more inclined to use a feature of a page when they perceive it as a useful tool that is part of the content of the page.

 

You might also like

On-site Search: How to help your customers find what they want (to buy) [More from the blogs]

Site Search Solutions: 3 methods for implementing search on your site [More from the blogs]

Marketing Experiment: Learn from our split testing mistakes [More from the blogs]

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Website Optimization: 6 tips for effective 404 pages

September 25th, 2014 No comments

I’ve come across some beautifully designed 404 pages over the years. However, once the one second of artistic appreciation ends, I’ve been left confused and lost. The designers of those pages, whether Web designers or marketers, missed a great opportunity.

Your 404 page should have two objectives:

  1. Notify visitors they’ve encountered a problem of some sort while landing on the page they wanted
  2. Guide the visitor to what they wanted or to something else of value

A 404 page doesn’t have to be a dead end, or even a “Go to [Homepage]. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200” card. It can be a user-friendly and functional page. It can have a greater purpose.

Read on to learn six tips to creating more effective 404 pages. You’ll also see “Not this, But this” examples demonstrating the tips.

Consider this blog post a creative swipe file of 404 pages, if you will.

 

Reduce Friction and Anxiety

 

Tip #1. Establish where visitors have landed

Not every visitor on your website who lands on a 404 page will have come from somewhere else on your site. When another site links back to your website incorrectly, or with an expired link, you potentially have visitors who are brand new to your site.

If your 404 page provides no way for new visitors to know where they are, chances are they’re going to press the back button never to be seen again. You just lost an opportunity for a new customer or reader. On the same note, if you provide no useful link for them, the back button is where they’re probably going to go.



The “Not this” page gives me nothing. Am I on a farm page? A livestock for sale website? A personal site for someone who really loves pigs? I have no clue based on the webpage.The “But this” example keeps its logo in place so visitors immediately know where they are. The copy of the page also gives clues as to where they are and what they can do on the site, even on the 404 page. 

 

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Website Optimization: Testing your navigation

September 11th, 2014 No comments

As we are testing our websites, we often focus on homepages, landing pages and funnels. These are the pages that “move the needle” and get results. However, there is one aspect of many sites that goes unnoticed by optimizers — the site navigation.

Site navigation is important because it gets your visitors where they need to be. Also, it’s usually one of the static elements of your site.

The navigation is visible on all of your pages and is often the one constant throughout the website.

It simply makes sense to focus your efforts on such a high visibility area that has such a great impact on your customers’ experience.

Now, you may be asking yourself, “What can I test in my navigation?”

To answer that question, I’ve constructed a short guide to help you start optimizing your navigation.

Potential navigation testing opportunities include:

  • Changing link names that may be confusing
  • Optimizing subcopy (if you give details in your navigation)
  • Changing hierarchies or organizations
  • Adding or deleting links
  • Optimizing visual features (icons)
  • Optimizing navigation indicators (hover and click functionality, lines, highlights, etc.)

 

Begin with goals and objectives 

It’s important to have clearly defined goals and objectives when testing your navigation.

While you want your site navigation to drive conversions, you should always remember that this is ultimately a tool for your site visitors.

It should guide them where they need to go in a clear, concise manner. So how do you measure your navigation’s success? What would be your primary KPI? In many tests, our KPIs are conversions or clickthroughs. However, much more thought must go into defining navigation KPIs.

Read more…

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Test Your Marketing Intuition: Why did this treatment outperform the control by 53%?

January 11th, 2012 2 comments

In this world, there are systems that underperform. It is a fact of life. A quick look at the world’s distribution of wealth is all anyone needs for proof of that. It happens all the time on a macro level. And when a system doesn’t just underperform but is truly broken, it usually means you need to tear it down and start from scratch.

And while it may not be humanly possible to do that for the world’s economic system, it’s very doable with your website.

Our websites are simply little systems that should present enough pieces of our value proposition in the right sequence to our ideal customer so that they take the desired action. You can make many tweaks to your site to improve how well it does that … and in so doing, improve conversion.

But for some websites, the system is broken. A new approach is needed. At MECLABS, we call this a category shift.

 

How can I implement a category shift for my website?

To implement this category shift, you need a radical redesign.

A radical redesign is simply an experimental approach in which the experimental treatments are “radically” or “categorically” different from the control.

While definitions are certainly interesting, it’s probably easier to give you an example of a radical redesign. So here’s a radical redesign experiment we recently ran with one of our research partners to flesh out that definition. It also happens to be the same experiment we’ll study in-depth for today’s free Web clinic at 4:00 pm EST: Rapidly Maximizing Conversion: How one company quickly achieved a 53.9% lift with a radical redesign.

  Read more…

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Affiliate Site Redesign: How to drive qualified traffic to a merchant’s offer

November 11th, 2011 1 comment

Affiliate marketers have it tough these days. So many affiliates are attracted by the promise of building a business without having to involve themselves in the details of actually filling orders. With a marketplace so saturated, it’s difficult to get any kind of ROI out of affiliate campaigns.

So, how can affiliate marketers increase their ROI?

The same way a merchant would increase its ROI: by providing enough perceived value to guide the prospects to, and through, the offer.

Of course, increasing ROI is always easier said than done. And because that’s part of the job of our research analysts, Adam Lapp, Associate Director of Optimization teaches an optimization training class every Thursday here at MECLABS. In it, Chris Rochester, one of our research analysts, developed a treatment homepage for affiliate website Safari.com as a thought exercise.

 

Click to enlarge

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Now, before I go any further and show you Chris’ treatment, it needs a heavy disclaimer. Because Safari.com was submitted by one of our Web clinic audience members, we didn’t have any actual metrics for the site. In other words, Chris may not have made the suggestions he did in the treatment had he seen the real data behind the site.

Fortunately, our Associate Director of Optimization, Adam Lapp, developed some example metrics Chris could work from. So here’s some imaginary background for you…

  Read more…

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Hidden Friction: The 7 Silent Killers of Conversion

August 15th, 2011 25 comments

Friction is one of the greatest obstacles to your conversion process, and though most marketers currently have some idea of what Friction is, many are only seeing half the picture.

When asking marketers to identify the Friction associated with a conversion process, the response is often very confident. Usually, the number of form fields on a page will be pointed out first, the number of steps in a process next, and occasionally a third comment might focus on the length of the individual pages themselves. The overall consensus from marketers is that if you can eliminate these simple elements, then you can eliminate Friction.

However, our research suggests that most of the Friction in a conversion process goes undetected. Further, this “hidden” Friction often is the most lethal to conversion. So, in this post I wanted to lay out 7 of the most undetected ways that Friction might be threatening your conversion rates. I have dubbed these The 7 Silent Killers of Conversion.

Read more…

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