I don't like the word "optimization." It has surpassed the level of buzz word and has officially been overused in every which way. While the word itself annoys me, the process of improving what you have to get more from it still rings true. I think we can all get onboard with the concept, but what about the process behind it? I am constantly surprised by the number of people that tell me their boss or client simply doesn't want to spend time on landing page optimization.
I've put together a little something I think explains the norm pretty well:
(Origional photos courtesy of Shutterstock).
Instead they would rather work on increasing traffic to
ugly unoptimized pages. While you would think selling LPO in-house would be an easy task, you would be surprised. Often I hear objections centered around lack of resources, inability to project return, and my personal favorite--"We simple don't have time to revisit pages that are already built."
So you, myself, and the rest of the cool kids know that optimizing your landing pages can be a huge win for your company, but how do you make the case for it in-house? It just so happens I have a few ideas for you on this. Below you'll find seven ways I've been able to convince clients and bosses to take a break from building up, and rework the foundation. Hopefully, you can use some of these the next time you are faced with what I call, "The Anti-Optimizers."
1. Evangelize the cause prior to starting.
You know that old saying, "make the case before you need the win?" Yeah me neither, I just made it up, but it stands true in this case. For most things you want to push through in-house, you will see less resistance if you start talking it up prior to the pitch. For LPO in particular, I suggest sending out emails with links to good case studies that show the value of LPO, or possibly dropping stats in meetings about how simple tweaks can result in "X." Doing all of this before asking them to allocate resources can set a great base for future conversations.
2. Pull the numbers to make a case in-house.
Call me a pessimist at heart but I love looking up crappy data. Yup it's true. The good news is we all have some of it to find. Your client, your company, whoever you are hoping to convince has data sitting in their analytics to help make the case for LPO efforts. The hard part is not necessarily finding the data, but relaying it in a positive light. You need to show all of the low hanging fruit around you.
Examples include things like showing industry standards for metrics like bounce rates or time on site, and then highlighting your own and the..uhmmm...discrepancies. Another idea is pulling your best converting pages, and showing what % of your site fails to perform at that standard or anywhere near it really. Those simple data pulls can go a long way.
3. Show potential successes.
Okay for you optimistic, rainbow-loving, happy data people...this one is for you. Do the number crunching. Take the time to show what an increase in performance could mean to your bottom-line. The best way to do this is to show ranges. Show them what a 10% increase in X would mean, a 5% increase in X would mean, and what something as small as a 2% increase in X would mean (don't forget to stress "something as small" and pause for dramatic affect...it works). By highlighting the potential successes, you turn that negative conversation into an opportunity for growth.
4. Know the costs & resources involved.
This is all about doing your homework. Just like any other time you try to convince someone to spend time or money on something, you should be prepared to give estimations. Whether you use a free tool like GWO, or another option that costs a monthly price, have those numbers on hand.
Also know how much design and dev time you will require for these changes and tests to get up on your site. You will be prepared for the questions, and hopefully put to rest any concerns about LPO wasting your company's money and resources.
5. Show competitors and their efforts.
This one is another favorite of mine. Nothing lights a fire like showing people where they are losing ground. If you want to make a case for your company doing LPO, what better way than to show your competitor testing out homepages, landing pages, different buttons, colors, etc. It may take a while to snag the screenshots, but it is sooo worth it. Trust me.
6. Run a small test behind closed doors & preach results.
This one is a bit of a gamble, mainly because it could totally backfire...but hey who doesn't love a little risk? Exactly. So get testing. Take one of your medium trafficked pages, and set up a quick A/B test. Change something drastic though--like the intention of the call to action, page layout and nav, or possibly the entire color scheme.
You may be thinking wouldn't this be more like a multivariate test, doesn't this get complicated? Well yeah, but you aren't really testing in hopes of finding out something revolutionary. Hear me out. This is what we call --down and dirty testing. Show two vary drastic alternatives for one page. Show Page A to 50% and Page B to 50% of your traffic , your results may not be the key to your company's success, but it will prove that different landing page experiences evoke very different actions by users. It's intuitive to us marketers, but sometimes people truly believe all pages are equal. Scary, I know.
7. Take ownership, start the ball rolling.
This is my last and final idea for you...it's sort of like a virtual high five. When it comes to making the case for anything in-house, I find the most effective way to convince people something is worth doing...is by doing it. So go get started, get the specs written, or the test versions mocked up. Then pitch the four to six steps left, explain how the hard work is done, and it's time to push it live. Your drive for the project will be appreciated, and hopefully the ambition will be contagious.
Well there you go. Hopefully you can use some of this the next time you run into a wall. LPO is no longer a side project we run when we "think something is wrong," it should be an ongoing process at every company. If you spend time driving traffic to your pages, you should spend time improving those pages.
Do you have a favorite tool or tactic for awesome LPO? I'd love if you left them in the comments below! We can all start sharing the LPO love together, group hug anyone?About JoannaLord — Director of Customer Acquisition & Engagement at SEOmoz.