Live from DMDNY: Little Things Mean a Lot to Web Conversion

New York–Too many marketers lose sales because they think of their landing pages—or Web pages that greet people when they click on an offer—as offering visitors a single, binary decision, according to Mark Wachen, chief executive officer of Optimost.

“The most common mistake marketers make is that they think people get to their landing page and think, Do I continue or do I not?” he said during a seminar at the Direct Marketing Days New York conference Thursday. “In reality, people make a bunch of minidecisions when they come to your site.” For example, visitors may glance at the headline and let that determine if they’re going to continue to another part of the page, where they’ll make a similar minidecision.

“Every touch point on the page has a potential impact,” Wachen said. “It’s really important to think about this, whether it’s the headline or the layout of the whole page.”

Moreover, it’s important to craft different landing pages based on who is visiting, even for the same campaign, he said. For example, a music merchant found that highlighting the offer “only 79 cents a song” on a landing page for people who had arrived from a search engine after using the words “online radio” or “radio” converted badly. But highlighting the message “only 79 cents a song” converted well on pages greeting people who had searched using the words “buy music.”

“You need to really think about how you can group your audiences and make sure messaging is appropriate for each audience,” Wachen said. “You need to really think about how you can group your audiences and make sure messaging is appropriate for each audience.”

Throughout the presentation, Wachen offered a series of small fixes he has seen work. One example: A company changed a header from “Special Offer” to “Today’s Specials” and significantly increased conversion rates. “Sometimes just changing a couple words can create that sense of urgency you’re looking for,” he said.

Images also can have an impact on conversion rates, often a negative one, according to Wachen. For example, a Motley Fool newsletter increased its conversion rates by removing a picture of the author. And a photo of the company’s chief executive will generally drive conversion rates down. “If you’re not a celebrity, you really ought to think twice about” including a photo.

Even something as seemingly minor as changing the color or style of a button can affect conversion rates, Wachen said. For example, one client realized better conversion rates with a red button than with a green one.

“Red doesn’t mean ‘stop,’” Wachen said. “It means ‘pay attention.’”