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Uncovering Site Problems for Landing Page Optimization, Part 1

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Landing page optimization and testing can often produce double-digit conversion rate improvements and transform the economics of an online business. You might know that your landing page is far from perfect, but do you know where to begin?

I'm often asked: "How do you find out what the problems with your landing page are? How do I get ideas for what to improve or test?"

There's a simple solution: instead of waiting only for good news, filter it out instead. Accentuate the negative. Focus on problems and things that are askew.

Now that you're prepared to look for landing page problems, you'll discover that there are many places to turn.

Web Analytics

Web analytics related to the content of your Web site can provide many important clues to uncover and prioritize potential problems:

Most visited content

The popularity of a Web page helps you to understand whether it's getting the proper exposure. If a key page isn't getting enough traffic, it may be necessary to move it to a more prominent location on your Web site, or to create more links to it from other popular pages.

Path analysis

Path analysis allows you to see the sequences of pages that visitors use to traverse your site. They show you the most common flows of traffic. It may be possible to change the position of key conversion pages or links within the site to benefit from such "drive-by" visibility.

Top entry pages

A list of the top entry pages shows you the point of first contact with your site. Generally, the more traffic that is hitting a landing page, the more attention that page deserves in terms of conversion tuning. Traffic levels can help you prioritize which landing pages need to be fixed first.

Top exit pages

Exit pages are the places where visitors leave your site. Each exit page can be viewed as a leaky bucket. If visitors exit your site, they probably didn't find what they were looking for. In some cases, there's nothing that you can do about this. But for many of the visitors who left, you probably could have improved the page to provide more relevant information or better navigation. The total number of exits and the exit percentage of a page can be used to prioritize among problem pages. The worst-case scenario is a popular entry page that is also a frequent exit page. The bounce rate is the percentage of entry page visitors who leave immediately without visiting any other site content. High bounce rates on high-traffic pages are a red flag indicating that those pages need attention.

Funnel analysis

Regardless of your visitors' initial wandering path on your Web site, they must often pass through a well-defined series of pages in order to convert. It's possible to see the efficiency of each step in this linear process. The funnel narrows as people drop off during each step. High drop-off percentages may signal that a particular step is especially problematic. If problems are uncovered, they may suggest breaking the process up into smaller and more manageable steps, or simplifying it. E-commerce shopping cart abandonment is a common example of this kind of funnel analysis.

Conversion goals

Web analytics software allows you to track conversion rates for all of the important goals on your site. By comparing your conversion rates with analyst research for your industry, you can get a rough idea of whether your site efficiency is competitive or substandard.

Some Web analytics tools offer the ability to view reverse goal paths. These are the most common sequences of pages that visitors traversed on their way to completing a conversion goal. Unlike forward-looking funnel analysis, reverse goal paths look backward at the most popular points of origin for a conversion. By using these reports, you can discover unexpected ways that visitors are converting and evaluate the effectiveness of your desired conversion path.

In Part 2 of this column, I'll examine several other powerful ways to identify site problems.

Join us for SES Toronto, June 16-18 at Metro Toronto Convention Centre (South Bldg.).


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