Last month I did a minor overhaul of my office.
I moved the piles of illegible notes, dead AA batteries, dirty bowls, USB cables that I have way too many of and can’t bring myself to toss, and last year’s taxes out of the office and into the trash, recycling, kitchen sink, trash, and attic crawl space, respectively. I removed all the non-essentials from my desk. And I brought in a monster bookcase to hold all the stuff that almost has a home.
The question was, where should the bookcase go? Facing west or north? Both had advantages and disadvantages, but the main thing was going to be the feel of the room. The Feng of the Shui, you might say.
It turned out that getting the thing into my office at all was a minor miracle, as well as a testament to how much my neighbors really don’t mind me so very much. It took six of us – four doing the work and two offering advice and commentary – to get that sucker into the office at all. What with low ceilings, tight corners, and the fact that I had forgotten to prepare the rest of the furniture to accept the newcomer, we all breathed a sigh of relief when the bookcase was in place. Any place. "Hey, wait guys, what about trying it on this other wall? Guys? Guys? Hello… Is anybody out there?"
No, once it was in position (on the east wall, next to the window, there it stayed. It’s not bad. It looms a little, but in a supportive "Why don’t you write the newsletter instead of uploading TED videos to Facebook?" sort of way.
Here’s a photo:
(Note the prominent display of my matching Three Mile Island Unit 2 Dedication Paperweights. Yes, I was in attendance. No, I don’t glow in the dark. And no, they’re not going on eBay any time soon…)
So until I do an awful lot of favors for a whole bunch of neighbors, that bookcase is staying exactly where it is. And the more stuff I put on its shelves, the less likely I am ever to move it again.
What about the furniture on your landing page?
Contrast that bookcase with the elements of your landing page. The one that you spend all that money sending visitors to. The one that isn’t converting as well as you’d like. How Feng is its Shui?
You know all about the value of testing, but are you doing it on your landing pages? Where it’s so much easier than in the real world. Where you just need a webmaster, not a bunch of friends and a hand truck.
So let’s talk about some tests you can run having to do just with the placement of your stuff. Don’t worry about copywriting. Just where things go on the page.
Watch First, Test Second
First thing is, know what your visitors are already doing on your landing page. Throw up some analytics. Google Analytics is quite good, and quite free. It’s already in your AdWords account.
I like Crazy Egg for visually friendly analytics. I especially like their Confetti feature, that shows me where people are clicking on my page. I can view that info in aggregate, by keyword, by time to click, or by browser. Here’s an example of the early results of a test of my home page:
Eighteen clicks, and 13 of them occurred between 30 seconds and 2 minutes on the site. With info like this, I can figure out if the links and forms and BUY buttons are in the right place, or if my visitors are bailing before getting to the good stuff.
Once you can see what the problems are, then set up tests that aim to overcome them. The first iteration of my home page featured a giant "Buy the Book" promo near the top right. I wasn’t getting many opt-ins, and since I make about $0.90 royalty per book, it wasn’t the best use of that real estate. It wasn’t even what most people wanted to do, as I found out from Crazy Egg:
As you can see, nobody was trying to buy the book. Nobody was signing up for my free first chapter, and everybody wanted free advice from the chat box. So I removed the chat box (if you want free advice, you now have to pay for it ;), removed the book promo, and changed the offer for the opt-in.
Ask Your Visitors to Complain
I’m using another tool to find out what’s stopping my visitors from opting in, or signing up for Gold Key status, or joining the Ring of Fire, or purchasing the Look Over My Shoulder (LOMS) videos, or whatever. It’s a tool called Kampyle – you can see it sitting quietly in the top right corner of this page, like Charlotte waiting for Templeton rat to bring her some words. Click the "Give Feedback" icon and you’ll see how it works. Feel free to try it and let me know what you think of the site.
Test to Remove Obstacles to Conversion
Your visitor will convert when they’re ready, willing, and able. Your usability testing and feedback gathering should give you an idea of which of the three will make the biggest difference.
Are your visitors ready to take the action you want them to take? Do they have enough information? Enough trust in you? Enough confidence in your product? Are they at a stage where they can benefit from your product or service, or do you need to meet them halfway?
If not, what do you need to add to your site flow to make offers congruent with their current state?
Do they want to do it? Have you explained the benefits? Have you done the cost-benefit analysis for them? Have you made it clear how you’re different and better than their other options?
Can they do it on your site? Can they find the right links and buttons? Does everything work? Do pages load quickly enough to keep their attention? Is it easy to navigate your site, or do you need to offer a training course to users?
The usability community has a buzzword, "user friendly." Forget that – aim for what my friend Mike Psenka of Ethority terms "user ridiculously obvious."
Start with simple curiosity: "Where should the BUY button go, here or there?"
Then create two versions of the page. Use Google’s free website optimizer to run the test (it’s really easy). Send some traffic, and you’ll discover one of two things:
1. One version is clearly superior to the other.
2. Not much difference, which means either the element you were testing doesn’t matter very much, or the differences were too small to affect behavior.
Either way, you’ve learned something. Wash, rinse and repeat, and pretty soon you’ll have a landing page that contributes mightily to your bottom line.
Compared to moving a monster bookcase, website improvement is easy. And you don’t even have to buy your neighbors a beer afterwards.
Product Links (stuff you should get)
1. The Ring of Fire
Online community, monthly calls, ready-response forum. Get your AdWords questions answered quickly. Get reviews of your keyword strategy, landing pages, and ads. Hundreds of dollars of consulting for as little as $20/month. Sign up now to get free access to an upcoming AdWords Quick Start webinar series ($147 value).
35+ (and growing) videos keyed to AdWords For Dummies, most between 2 and 5 minutes. Discover exactly how to do all the important stuff. Get confused by reading? Watch the videos and slash your learning curve. Learn more…
Bonus Quotes (for reading this far)
"An escalator can never break: it can only become stairs. You would never see an Escalator Temporarily Out Of Order sign, just Escalator Temporarily Stairs. Sorry for the convenience."
– Mitch Hedberg
"My neighbor has a circular driveway… he can’t get out."
– Stephen Wright
"Why is there so much controversy about drug testing? I know plenty of guys who would be willing to test any drug they could come up with."
– George Carlin
"I saw a product on late night TV. It said, ‘You can water your hard-to-reach plants with this product.’ Who would make their plants hard to reach?! ‘I know you need water, but I’m gonna make you hard to reach. I will throw water at you. Hopefully they invent a product before you shrivel and die.’"
– Mitch Hedberg
"Last week I helped my friend stay put. It’s a lot easier’n helpin’ ’em move. I just went over to his house and made sure that he did not start to load sh*t into a truck."
– Mitch Hedberg