In Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, I described some key roles necessary for a successful landing page optimization program. Today, I'll examine three more roles: the copywriter, marketing manager, and user experience expert.
Copywriters are responsible for your Web site's text content.
Skills and Training
Copywriters come from a variety of backgrounds. Some have a formal education in writing and composition. Others were drafted into the role of technical writer. Still others are experts in their subject matter area and have been asked to write specific content or articles for the Web site.
Many of the elements that you may want to tune involve copywriting: headlines, body text, sales copy, call-to-action, navigation link naming, button text, figure captions, and text embedded in graphics.
Copywriters are often generalists. They may need the support of your marketing staff, subject matter experts, or product manager to make sure that your main messaging points and technical features are being presented effectively from the perspective of your intended audience.
Copywriters write for a variety of corporate materials, including informational articles, technical writing, and print collateral. When writing for the Web, they tend to carry over the same editorial style. Effective landing page copy often goes against the grain of traditional expositional writing and grammar.
Copywriters must be closely monitored to make sure their writing conforms to Web format guidelines. This includes use of the inverted pyramid style, factual objective information, and the use of concise sentence fragments or bullet lists.
Marketing managers are responsible for marketing your product or service. They formulate the marketing plan and oversee its execution.
Skills and Training
Marketing managers often come from an advertising, communications, finance, or creative background. Depending on the size of your company, they may be generalists who are responsible for everything, or specialists who are only in charge of Web promotion. If your advertising mix includes offline components, they may be responsible for making sure that a consistent view of your product exists across all channels.
As part of your test plan development, marketing managers can often provide excellent background information, including marketing intelligence about competitors and your product's positioning in your industry. They can communicate with the copywriter to ensure that there is compliance with the specific marketing messages that need to be included in your sales copy and headlines. Marketing managers can also help you understand larger business goals and the potential impact of your landing page test on your business partners, customer service, and offline channels.
Marketing managers understand the full scope of your promotional and traffic acquisition activities. They have a good handle on the expectations of people landing on the site from different online marketing campaigns and what happens upstream of the landing page.
Communicating to them the key requirements for your test traffic is important. Ideal testing traffic sources should be recurring, controllable, and stable. The marketing manager can help you identify the largest subset of your traffic that matches these criteria.
Marketing managers often control the marketing plan and are in contact with public relations and other parts of your company. They can tell you about the timing of external events (such as trade shows and industry-specific seasonal changes).
In addition, marketing managers can tell you in advance about any major public relations or product announcements. You must work closely with them to make sure that your proposed data collection period doesn't fall during these periods; otherwise, your data may be skewed or irreparably tainted.
User experience (commonly abbreviated as UX) is an interdisciplinary field that examines how users interact with a particular system, object, or device. This includes how they view it, learn about its capabilities, and use it in the real world.
Skills and Training
In the case of landing page optimization, you're mainly concerned with the Web browser and the content and function of your landing pages, so the UX professionals will likely come from the specific disciplines of human factors, user-centered design, human computer interaction, information architecture, interface design, visual design, or usability testing. Most of these specialized skills aren't commonly available in online marketing departments.
However, UX people may be working within your software development team. If no one at the company has this background, it's possible to hire consultants on a project basis. With their broad experience, such people can often provide critical insights into which elements to test.
UX specialists are usually given wide scope to improve the overall usability of a system. Because usability is a huge factor in conversion rate improvement, they're usually heavily involved in developing the written test plan (helping to determine the elements to be tested, along with the specific alternatives for each element to be considered).
UX experts can also construct the roles, tasks, and AIDA decision process steps for your business, and help you identify gaps. They're also experienced at matching important business objectives to the needs of users.
UX practitioners are generalists. They may have been involved in the design of many Web sites on a variety of topics. For this reason, it's important to team them with a subject matter expert. Without the support of someone knowledgeable in your industry or business, UX practitioners may miss important aspects of your conversion process or business goals.
UX people are usually good at the functional and architectural aspects of your design (i.e., common usability issues that are likely to affect all of your visitors). However, they're usually weaker on the content issues, such as text copy, marketing message, and graphical design.
UX practitioners also believe that through good design procedures and small-scale usability testing (involving a few representative test subjects) they can come up with a high-performance and coherent design. However, they need to understand that they don't have to create a perfect design. Their ideas may be used piecemeal as part of your test. It's often tremendously liberating for them to be allowed to come up with ideas without having to be sure they're all good.
The best landing page version will be found statistically (by watching the behavior of thousands of people), not through qualitative or small-scale usability testing. UX practitioners are also often in favor of testing, but they often have problems with statistics-based testing. Because of this, their involvement should usually be confined to helping decide what to test, and not the subsequent data collection or analysis.
Next time, I'll wrap up this series by examining the remaining key roles.
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