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Posts Tagged ‘design’

Banner Design Tested: How a 35% decrease in clicks caused an 88% increase in conversion

September 9th, 2011 2 comments

Imagine for a second that you’re running a banner ad campaign on a website with a black background. Now, if you were going to choose a color for that banner to get more clicks, would you choose a dark shade of blue or bright yellow?

If you’re like me, you would have guessed yellow. Unfortunately for our marketing intuition, a recent test we ran with a Research Partner proves otherwise.

For this test, we ran two different versions of a banner offering a large financial institution’s branded version of a credit card, alongside a $50 gift card incentive. Essentially, if the visitor applied for the branded credit card (the same brand as the site on which the banner ad appeared), they could get a $50 gift card after making qualifying purchases. The test itself was an A/B sequential test. Read more…

Website Messaging: How clarity once again trumped persuasion to the tune of a 200% boost in conversion rate

May 23rd, 2011 No comments

“Clarity trumps persuasion.”
Dr. Flint McLaughlin, Managing Director (CEO), MECLABS

The above statement has become somewhat of a mantra around the MECLABS offices. Not only because it’s quotable, but also because of just how applicable it is across all facets of marketing. Whether discussing a simple print ad or a complex integrated campaign, at the end of the day our goal as marketers is clear – tell people what you offer and why they should buy from you. If you’re clear in your messaging, there’s no need for persuasive tactics that don’t directly support your value proposition.

Still, it’s somewhat ironic that simplifying a marketing message can be such a complicated process. In this post, we’ll be looking into a recent test conducted on the website of a large international financial services company, pointing out why even the most basic offerings were diluted by an overly complicated process and unclear calls-to-action. Read more…

Optimization and A/B Testing: Why words matter (for more than just SEO)

May 18th, 2011 3 comments

What’s in a name? that which we call a rose

By any other name would smell as sweet;

William Shakespeare lived in what can only be defined as the pre-Google era. Sure, Juliet didn’t care what a rose was called. She wasn’t searching for rose vendors since she chose a guy from the other side of the tracks and would never have a proper wedding. And she certainly wasn’t selling roses online with a site that relied on organic traffic for two-thirds of its revenue.

However, names do matter if you’re searching for optimization or A/B testing vendors, or if you’re offering those services yourself. Even more important, words matter because they hint at the approach you’re taking to your marketing efforts. That’s why I was so intrigued by two marketing research charts in Boris Grinkot’s 2011 Landing Page Optimization Benchmark ReportRead more…

Homepage Optimization: How sharing ideas can lead to more diverse radical redesigns

April 29th, 2011 4 comments

It was time to get radical at Senior Optimization Manager, Adam Lapp’s optimization class, and once again I was there to document it all for your reading pleasure. Because I care, naturally.

Since my last post, the student body has grown, and we now have five new research analysts eager to learn. Due to our uneven number, Adam decided to pit all of the analysts against each other for his optimization competition, instead of taking the usual team approach. This time around, their challenge was to create the most effective radical redesign for the Arbor Day Foundation homepage (which was submitted for live optimization during our Homepage Web clinic).

But before I show you the original page, I’d like to add that this lesson not only sharpened our optimization skills, but also proved that great minds don’t always think alike. And, believe it or not that can be a really good thing.

Diagnosing the homepage

Now, let’s get to down the “nitty gritty”…here’s the audience submission:

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Before being given the task to create radical wireframes for the original homepage, Adam and the class discussed the page’s main issues. Here is their analysis the key problems visitors might face:

  • The logo is too small. It gets lost in the page and also doesn’t help the visitor know exactly where they are
  • There’s not a clear focus on the page

o   It has a confusing top navigation

o   It has three equally weighted columns (Trees, Programs, Lend Your Support)

o   It also has confusing objectives (Where do I click, what can I do on this page?)

1. What is the difference between a membership, a donation and buying a tree?

  • Unclear call-to-action

o   The first and largest call-to-action a visitor sees is “Visit the tree nursery”

o   Makes the visitor ask, “What is a tree nursery? Is this a place to buy trees or a clever metaphor for a type of product or page?”

o   Visitors have unclear expectations of what the next page will be and are a little lost at this point.

Radical Solutions

After pointing out these issues, the analysts had to figure out how to tie in all these objectives together into one goal. And when it was time to present their radical wireframes, each analyst came up with a completely different design and goal in mind (remember the original page had several objectives).

Each submitted wireframe focused on one of the following goals:

Click to enlarge

-Directly pushing a membership

  • The headline is action oriented, specific and includes a membership incentive
  • It drives the visitor’s attention to a primary call-to-action (become a member)


Click to enlarge



-Getting visitors to donate and help the Arbor Day Foundation’s mission

  • Headline immediately says where you are
  • The options on left let visitors know what to do on the page (donate/help)


Click to enlarge



- Giving the gift of a tree or allowing visitors to pick 10 trees for themselves now

  • Page objective is simplified and the incentive of 10 free gifts with donation is emphasized
  • De-emphasized supporting column with core information about the foundation


Click to enlarge



-Engaging visitors with an interactive game

  • Headline tells visitors exactly where they are
  • Focuses on letting visitors interact and become familiar with the product through question game



Click to enlarge

-Pushing all objectives in a new navigation-focused design

  • Visitor can quickly choose a path from the easy to see, simple, and short left navigation on the top portion.
  • Has a rotating banner will draw the eye path to the four most important objectives, then presents four core values in a controllable (and testable) sequence



Five heads are better than one

These five separate takes on one Web page got us thinking about the brainstorming process and how important it is for marketers to create a blissful marriage between individual ideas and teamwork.

In a marketing team, not everyone is going to think the same way, but this doesn’t mean that these differing thoughts can’t turn into a great collaborative effort.

This reminds me of the weekly peer review meetings we have at out lab, where the research team gets together and reviews Web pages as a team. Usually, one person starts off the conversation and then another person bounces off an idea about that topic, sometimes agreeing or challenging the previous comment. The idea here is to brainstorm in the correct way, by being open to different ideas and avoiding groupthink. Of course, not every idea is a good idea, which is why you have to test.

This is exactly what happened during Adam’s class. Each analyst initially came in with a different idea for the homepage and after everyone’s thoughts were put on the table, each individual thought grew into one improved and cohesive approach to developing treatments.

“If one person in charge of this page only relied on their own ideas, we may not [be] able to achieve the highest level of success,” Adam said. Of course, this hypothetical collaborative effort would have to be tested to make sure it’s actually effective.

“There’s no such thing as expert marketers, only expert testers,” Adam said. “AND the best way to get diverse test ideas is to leverage other people with other ideas.”

Lesson learned

In the end, even though it started as a free-for-all competition, with the right guidance and frame of mind, it turned out to be a great team effort.

Now that we’ve learned that lesson, I would love to start a collaborative effort with the audience, and ask you to share your ideas to optimize this homepage. Feel free to use the comments section to get this brainstorming session rolling.

Related Resources

Homepage Optimization: Radical redesign ideas for multivariable testing

Homepage Optimization: Creating the best design to quickly meet multiple visitors’ needs

Informed Dissent: The best marketing campaigns come from the best ideas

Landing Page Optimization: What cyclical products can learn from CBS Sports

Email Marketing Tests: What to do when a radical change produces negligible results

April 25th, 2011 1 comment

We usually share tests on this blog that our optimization research analysts conduct in our labs with our Research Partners. Sometimes we share tests from our audience is well, but rarely do we share our own tests.

In today’s blog post I wanted to share a recent email test from our own marketing team. Not because the results were impressive. If you’ve followed MarketingExperiments for any time, you’ve certainly seen us share results from 162% lifts and 59% gains. Today, we’re going to discuss what to do when you get something entirely different. Read more…

This Just Tested: Stock images or real people?

April 8th, 2011 24 comments

In our most recent Web clinic on optimizing leads, we quickly reviewed a recent case study in which two banner images were tested – a generic stock image vs. an image of a real person. This experiment led to more insights than we had time to cover last week; so, I thought I’d give it a little more room to breathe here on the blog.

CONTROL: Who doesn’t love a generic smiling lady?

If you haven’t yet watched the Web clinic replay, the company (blurred intentionally) we were working with in this experiment was a consumer credit counseling service offering free debt consultation. Their homepage had been the focus of many previous radical redesign tests, but for the scope of this research project, we were focusing on one particular issue: The main banner image. Read more…