By Juli Durante

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Once upon a time, in a faraway land, websites were created and then they were “done.” Today, savvy marketers know this approach won’t cut it. Not only does Google want to see your website getting updated frequently, but you also know that once your site is setup, there are new opportunities to test content and optimize for conversions. You don’t just want to launch a new site, you want to see growth in the future.

This is where testing comes into play. depending on what kind of software you're using and how your website is setup, you may be able to initiate A/B  or multivariate testing. Your test can range from something as small as a headline or call to action button to more extensive sections of copy and even page layout.

While what you test and where you test it will vary greatly based on your site content, your buyer personas, and even your industry, here are some tests to get started with:

Homepage

If your homepage gets a lot of views, it’s an excellent place to run some tests. Although it’s not the only way visitors come into your website, it is still a very important aspect to test and optimize. In fact, the information presented on your homepage plays an important role in informing visitors and converting them into leads. To optimize your homepage, here are a few tests:

1. Will changing CTA color affect click through rate?

Testing calls to action is an easy way to get started.  if your website was built with conversion have in mind, it's very likely that you have at least one call to action that is highly visible on your homepage. Chances are, you chose a color for this call to action button that coincides with your brand guidelines. from a branding perspective this makes a lot of sense: you want your website to look a lot like you. That said, when calls to action do not stand apart from the rest of the content on the page, for example a medium blue button on a navy blue background, your click through rate might not be optimal. In this case, you might hypothesize that changing to a much lighter colored call to action button will improve click through rate.

2. Does CTA copy affect click through rates? Conversion rates?

similarly to testing color, you can also text the actual words on a call to action button. you may consider testing you call to action with or without a verb included. If you are promoting a free trial, the two versions might be:

  • Free Trial
  • Request a Free Trial

You might also want to measure the efficacy of using “Read More” as opposed to “Learn More”

In addition to optimizing for click through rates, the ultimate conversion rate of calls to action shouldn't be ignored. If you find that one variation of a call to action results in a significant higher click through rate, but also a significantly lower submission rate to the subsequent form, that might not be an ideal version to use. If you're using HubSpot, the call to action tool clearly displays these metrics for your tests:

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2. Will placing the main CTA in a different location garner more clicks?

Often, certain web design trends will mean call to action are placed in one location over another.  today, you might find that a lot of websites have main introductory text with a call to action right below. And often, this setup is not by mistake: when you clearly defined what your business does and set up a logical next steps for the visitor, they're likely to take those next steps.

What happens when your website a little bit more complicated than that?  or what if your home pages set up in that manner, but you're not seeing a lot of clicks on your call to action?

3. Do consideration-stage content offers perform better than awareness-stage offers?

When you’re thinking about your homepage and the buyer’s journey, it’s a good best practice to include content that speaks to every stage. However, remember that your homepage may not attract as many awareness-stage visitors as, for example, your blog does. With this in mind, one test to complete would be an A/B test of consideration and awareness stage content offers.

4. Does a shorter or longer headline get more attention?

When writing headlines on page, people tend to fall into one of two categories: short or long. But which is better for your users? If you’re using heatmap software with an A/B testing option, you can actually measure which headline lengths I looked at more by your visitors.

5. Will negative messaging affect the bounce rate?

In general, we position our websites to have positive messaging that focuses on our product or service and its benefits to our audiences; however, what if the messaging takes a bit of a negative tone, focusing instead of the major pain points that your persona feel?  does this change in messaging also change the way visitors perceive your website? When conducting this kind of A/B tests, one metric to keep an eye on is your bounce rate.  if visitors are landing on your website and immediately Heading the back button because of negative messaging, you'll know that positive messaging is more effective.  that said, you might also find that directly addressing pain points and problems instead of taking a more product or feature specific approach is actually more appealing to your audience.

Product/Internal Pages

In addition to your home page, it makes a lot of sense to test your product or internal pages. These pages are detailed enough to attract visitors with specific problems and needs, which means you have many opportunities to test content. To get started, you might ask:

6. Does including bread crumbs increase the number of pages per visit?

“Breadcrumbs”, the navigation links you might see right above the content on a site page, showing you where you are in the site’s hierarchy, aren’t exactly the trendiest web design item – but are they are functional. And one of their functions might be getting visitors to view more pages of your website when they visit.

9. How do sidebars affect conversions?

Internal pages quite often include some kind of sidebar with supplemental navigation, calls to action, or related resources - but are they helping you get more leads, or are visitors totally ignoring them? While it may seem scary, consider totally removing your sidebar as a page variation - and watch how your conversion rates change.

7. Do longer pages convert more visitors into leads?

For some time, it was in vogue to keep site pages as short as possible. As mobile device usage has increased, the trend has moved toward longer pages with multiple sections. How does page length correlate with the conversion rate of one of your pages? Create a longer version and a shorter version with the same CTA and A/B test them to find out.

8. Do videos increase the time spent on site?

Video marketing is no longer a new tactic, but it can still be valuable. Often, including video on your site pages (and even landing pages) can increase the time visitors spend with your content. To find out, start with a simple video on an internal page and check use Google Analytics to see how much time your visitors spend on the video version compared to the non-video version.

What tests have you run on your website? Let us know by tweeting us at @smartbugmedia.

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Juli Durante

About the author

Juli Durante was formerly a team lead and marketing strategist for SmartBug Media. She has been using HubSpot and practicing inbound marketing since 2011, first as a one-woman inbound marketing team and then at SmartBug. A born and bred Jersey girl, she's a graduate of Rutgers University where she studied Anthropology, Art History, and Classics, making a very natural transition to digital marketing. Juli's education helped her learn more about research, analysis, and Jasper Johns, which she applies today when planning and measuring campaigns. She's particularly passionate about CRO and website optimization. Read more articles by Juli Durante.

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