If ‘Always be Testing” isn’t a mantra of yours, you could be missing out on customers and valuable feedback. Yet, even if you can’t employ comprehensive usability testing, there are many ways that you optimize your website for success.

Recently, Marketing Experiments, a research lab specializing in optimizing sales and marketing processes, hosted a web clinic called Optimizing Landing Pages: The four key tactics that drove a 189% lift.

Presented by Flint McGlaughlin, Director of MEC LABS Group, basic principles for improving landing page conversion and communicating a site’s value exchange were shared. (The 189% lift refers to a recent MEC LABS experiment in which experimenting with principles they outlined produced a 189% gain.)

What Do You Mean - a Site’s Value Exchange?

As it turns out, each time a user visits a website they have two perceptions: cost and value. By wearing your designer and marketer hats, you need to address both your user’s:

  • Perceived cost of visiting the site: the amount of time needed to figure out intent and goals, and their
  • Perceived value: what they think they are getting from your product, service, company.

It’s your job to reduce the first, while increasing the second.

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Because we have all suffered through sites that make it almost painful to complete a transaction, or make us click through too many pages to learn more about what we want to do, we understand that users usually know how much time they are willing to invest on a website.

As marketers, it’s our responsibility to give users what they want in a manner that is convenient and efficient, even it’s just an illusion.

Reducing Perceived Costs

Depending on your product or service, the process may be complicated. You may need more information from a prospective customer before you can begin to demo a product, for example. Yet, by merely simplifying the layout or changing the language, users may feel more comfortable and not as intimidated.

McGlaughlin shared a few tips for reducing perceived costs:

Eliminate any length or difficulty from whatever process the user needs to complete. Whether it’s a registration or sign up form or an eCommerce form, consider reducing the number of fields required.

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When testing your site and viewing it from a prospective customer’s point of view, continually ask yourself: Where am I? What can I do here? These questions will help you better understand how to layout and design your pages. Users are eager to complete tasks, but in order for them to understand what is expected on them, they have to first understand where they are in the process and why it’s necessary.

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Of course, these types of changes and observations are particularly helping, if you continue to monitor their results or compare them against original layouts. By not taking the time to set benchmarks before making changes, you may not fully understand how your changes have affected the user’s experience.

Increasing Perceived Value

In order to increase the perceived value of your site, per the visitor’s perspective, it’s recommended that you look at your website’s words, their tone and context and read it as your customer would. Be skeptical. Be cynical. Question everything. What you, as a marketer might think is clever language, may appear to be arrogant to the customer.

McGlaughlin encourages that we ask ourselves the following question:

If you had just one sentence to explain why your ideal prospect should purchase from you rather than your competitors, what would it be?

With that in mind, take a look at how long it is currently taking you to say the same thing on your site. McGlaughlin provided a few examples of how he and his team would clean up some of the language that is used.

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Conduct Your Own Experiments

After his presentation, McGlaughlin and his team conducted 40 minutes of live optimization of audience submissions to help drive these lessons home. And while McGlaughlin and his team may not always be available, you have similar resources at your disposal.

Throughout the testing process (which should be on-going) ask others to take a look. Be it those in the market for whatever you are selling or those in your company. Make their time meaningful, by asking them to figure out the task on each page or asking them to go through the process of registering for a demo to gain a better understanding of how long it takes and any errors they may confront.

If you’re not always testing, at least be monitoring and asking questions of your site’s processes. If there is a chance that they could be improved, it’s money wasted if you don’t take the time and effort to optimize.