Let me start this post off by asking a question (somewhere, an English teacher is crying).
When is a value proposition not a value proposition?
The answer? When it’s hidden beneath lesser value propositions.
In this case, an Australian telecom company utilized a page design that effectively undervalued the company’s premier offerings, through an uninviting layout and a distinct lack of focus on its most powerful value statement.
To create a parallel, imagine McDonald’s dedicating its total ad budget to promote a new salad, or Robert DeNiro accepting a lifetime achievement award for “Meet the Fockers.” Yes, theoretically, both situations are possible, but neither would properly support the top value propositions offered by these entities.
Our research partner is an Australian telecom company offering dedicated server and hosting solutions. The company has been decorated with numerous accolades for its services and customer care, and remains the most accredited hosting company in the country.
The PPC landing page in question offers visitors the opportunity to obtain a no-obligation free estimate for dedicated business server solutions.
The goal of the test was to see:
- Which dedicated server PPC landing page will yield the greatest number of sales leads?
- Which dedicated server PPC landing page will yield the greatest number of telephone sales leads?
In creating a treatment, our researchers needed to test a number of variables from the existing page, including headline, layout/eye-path, value proposition points, image selection and location, format of the questionnaire, presence of a testimonial, location of the company’s logo, location/size of the contact information, and body text copy, size and location.
Control: Don’t bury your value “down under”
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The control page led with a large image of a wall of server cabinets captioned on the extreme right with a comparatively small block of text intended to summarize the primary value proposition highlights (Creative samples have been anonymized to protect Research Partner competitive advantage). The image, though full-color, contained largely shades of gray and was not easily recognizable as computer servers (one colleague believed them to be window shutters upon first glance.)
Though the term, “Dedicated Servers” was used above and below the image, as well as in the blue text box to the right, none of the three instances employed any distinct font treatment or attention-getting design. As a result, the most visually arresting page element was the indistinct gray image.
The user’s eye was then drawn to the blue text box to the right of the image. The text was centered in the box and was not bulleted or given any type of call out. Our researchers found there was potential for significant “banner blindness” as a result.
The next section below the image consisted mainly of a short paragraph of gray-on-white text with no visual cues, such as bolding, underlining, etc. to guide attention. With the added visual distractions to the right of this copy, the eye-path was cluttered and difficult for a user to navigate.
The copy itself was subdued, with little emphasis on the company’s differentiators. The writers instead focused on terms such as “secure,” “reliable” and “cost-effective” – all terms that support value, but also do little to make this company stand out from the competition.
The remainder of the page consisted of two forms – one with a somewhat contradictory invitation that offered, “For immediate advice – Call 1-800-XXX-XXXX,” only to then request personal information. The other form was a fairly lengthy questionnaire (with optional text entry box, to boot) followed by a “Request a Quotation” button at the bottom. The call-to-action was located at the end of the page, left-justified, with a graphical treatment that did nothing to make it stand out from the row of well-recognized logos beneath it.
In short, while there was no confusion about what this page offered, it took more work than could realistically be expected of a user to scan around and find it. It almost seemed as if the company was “being coy” and purposely diminishing its upfront value in order to get users to fill out the forms and request more information.
Treatment: Leave no doubt about your company’s stature and value propositions
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The treatment was designed to test two primary hypotheses about the control page:
1. The expression of the value proposition could be improved
2. The control page caused user friction due to poor eye-path, the amount of information requested, and visual difficulty in locating the call-to-action.
With the treatment page, our research team attempted to test both of the above hypotheses by addressing the value proposition and friction issues. Beginning with the value prop, a large two-part headline – “Australia’s Most Trusted & Accredited Business Hosting Company” – was added at top-left to establish that the visitor had arrived at a trusted destination. Added visual emphasis was placed on the term “Business Hosting Company” to establish further user confidence.
Below the two one-sentence paragraphs of text that provide an overview of the company’s services, the top value proposition points are emphasized by positioning them symmetrically on either side of a centered image. The image itself was much more easily recognizable as a computer server than that of the control.
Perhaps the most distracting and confusing element of the control page – the lengthy “needs” questionnaire – was eliminated for this treatment, with the revised page design focused on clearly directing the viewers’ eye-path toward the primary call-to-action – the invitation to call or contact a company rep online.
Further value (and user confidence) is established by the image-supported testimonial placed beside a capture form. By placing the testimonial here, our researchers felt that users would experience less anxiety when submitting personal contact information.
The treatment outperformed the control by a relative difference of 188.46%. More than half of the leads generated by the treatment were inbound calls to the telephone number listed on the page. For the control, all of the leads came from contact information entered in the capture form.
While conversion rate increase is big in and of itself, keep in mind that this is a B2B marketer, and like many B2B marketers these leads have a high lifetime value since leads that convert often result in accounts that span several years.
What you need to understand
The 188% relative increase in conversion-to-lead from the Treatment page design suggests that the one or both of the hypotheses have merit.
To maximize the value of this test to achieve the greatest long-term value in the shortest period of time, the research team chose to use a multi-factorial test. And as with any multivariable test, it’s difficult to determine an exact reason for such a lead gen boost without further testing. However, it’s evident from the results that more prospects were inspired to take action after seeing the treatment page. And our past research indicates that this is likely due to reduced friction and subsequent reduction in potential user anxiety.
However, it must be noted that while there were no phone calls from the control page during the test period, there were calls that stemmed from the treatment. This is strong indication that making the phone number more prominent and eliminating the ambiguity in the contact capture section was an effective approach.
While the clarity of the value proposition and the level of friction seem to be much improved with the treatment design, there remains the fact that technology (and business) changes at a breakneck pace. Testing a variety of newer and more unique value statements in the center image could significantly increase user confidence, and ultimately conversion.
Still, the 188% boost might as well be qualified in layman’s terms as “night and day improvement.” Yes, it was a limited test. But in that time, the revamped page not only garnered more leads, but brought about a huge bump in person-to-person interaction. And today, when just about everything we do can be anonymized and faceless, this increased level of user confidence cannot be ignored.
(Now, if we could only ignore “Meet the Fockers”…)
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Landing Page Optimization: How an engaging headline and revamped layout led to a 26% conversion rate gain
Landing Page Optimization: Identifying friction to increase conversion and win a Nobel Prize