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Increasing home page engagement with A/B Testing

By Expert commentator 27 Jun, 2013
Essential
AB and multivariate testing

An example of using of A/B Testing

Examples of A/B testing often cover landing page conversion, but a common problem, not covered so often, is how to get visitors to engage more with a key page such as a home page, product category page or resources page. In this post I will give an example of how we used A/B testing to increase engagement for a home page.

Engagement can mean different things for different sites. For some it is the pages per visit; for others it can be social shares, number of comments, or any other page activity.

For our customer, Inside Buzz, engagement meant visitors exploring the site further, beyond their homepage. It was probably this need to have active engagement that their previous homepage design provided so many options for visitors to click whichever option they are interested in.

Inside Buzz UK

So basically, visitors can get an overview of the entire site at once on the homepage itself. They can then figure out what this site has to offer and whether it is relevant to them.

Below is the Control page of Inside Buzz. Visitors could download free guides for their industry type, check out the reviews of various companies they were interested in, know about the latest buzz, and much more.

Insider Buzz Control Page

Now Inside Buzz is a UK-based career publishing company that aims to educate job seekers to plan their career better; and provides them with a picture of what it’s like to work for top UK employers.

They conduct independent surveys whose participants are thousands of current employees of these employers. And unbiased workplace reviews are then shared on the site.

  • Test Background

Anyone in the conversion optimization industry can easily point out here that a cluttered page or providing too many options on the same page is a recipe for disaster. The high bounce rate from the homepage was a huge concern for the team.

Although their site has a rather unique and useful model, they were not able to leverage the benefits of this powerful combination. The team realized that the original page tried to communicate a lot at once. It featured multiple items of content from across the site, resulting in potential confusion.

That’s when they thought that it makes sense for them to try and declutter the page to increase the engagement on the site.

To validate their hypothesis, they first conducted two positive tests in Visual Website Optimizer to improve engagement, where they removed one unnecessary element each. Now they were ready to go for the complete page overhaul.

  • Test Hypothesis

The hypothesis was that reducing the options on the page and keeping the focus of visitors on one goal, i.e to select the industry from the drop-down search should help to increase the engagement on the site.

This is how the Challenger page looked with the complete overhaul:

Insider Buzz Challenger Page

Result?

As expected, the Challenger beat the Control and saw a 17.8% improvement for the overall site engagement.

Here’s the Comparison image for you to see the two versions together:

Inside Buzz Comparison Image

Here are a few awesome things that must have contributed to the success of this test and increased engagement for Inside Buzz:

Succesful factors in site engagement

  • Right Focus – The first visit to the Control page must be making visitors feel 'lost' at best. But the Challenger draws the focus of visitors straight to the drop-down menu that allow them to select their industry type and explore the site further.The core focus of the site was to make visitors explore employer reviews and they found just the right way to guide visitors to them. You can read one of our previous case studies where the more focused challenger increased sales by 22%.
  • Better Value Proposition – Even though the Control page tried to communicate all that they can about the site model, it made it difficult for visitors to figure out the whole purpose of the site. It didn’t communicate well the value proposition to the visitors.

And as we all know, visitors take around 8-10 seconds to evaluate the site and decide if it is useful for them. The Control wasn’t great at communicating the USP of the site and had a high bounce rate.

While I’m not sure about the value proposition being communicated in the Challenger in an explicit manner, but the headline and the subheading right next to the drop-down in the center gives a good context to visitors about what the site is all about.

Plus, the 'Where do you want to work?' next to the drop-down box leaves no ambiguity in the mind of the visitors. They now understand well that they are expected to choose their industry and explore the site further to find employer reviews in UK.

  • Simple Design – Thankfully, unnecessary links and elements were removed, which gave a good facelift to the website. Appearances definitely play their role in first impressions, and when it comes to site design, the popular KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid!) approach is definitely better. Here’s Barry Schwartz (author of 'The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less') explaining why lesser choices lead to quicker decision making.
  • Single Call-to-Action (CTA) Button – And of course, when you have a single CTA right in the centre of the page, there’s no way your visitors can miss it. Inside Buzz now plans to test this single CTA idea for many other pages of their site as well.
 

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