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Top 12 Things to Test on Your Web SiteViews: 304
May 30, 2006 2:49 pm Top 12 Things to Test on Your Web Site

T.E.A.M. Mom!

================ FEATURE EDITORIAL =======================

Marketing Tips Newsletter
July 12, 2005 -- Issue 111

"Test for Success: Learn the Top 12 Things to Test on Your Web Site (And How You Can Increase Sales by More Than 400%!)"

============================================================

In the last few weeks, and especially in the last newsletter
we sent out, I've been laying down a challenge to you. I've
been urging you to "test something new" on your web site in
honor of Corey.

And your response has been fantastic: I'm sitting here with
an inbox full of e-mails in response to this challenge,
asking for suggestions on exactly *what* to test.

That's why we're devoting this issue to giving you the top
twelve tests you can run on your web site right now. These
tests are quick and easy to implement and can start
increasing your sales by 400%... 700%... even 1,000%... in
less than 48 hours!

And I haven't just grabbed those figures out of the air.
These are ACTUAL results that we've seen by running
literally hundreds of our own tests every month.

Bottom line... testing is the ONLY way to discover what
works -- and what doesn't -- on your web site, and it's
the BEST way to start increasing your sales exponentially.

And if you take the plunge and test even just one of the
following twelve things, you'll learn just how true
this is... especially when you start seeing a dramatic
improvement to *your* bottom line!

-----------------------------------------------------------
Test #1: Offer ONE product or service on your homepage
-----------------------------------------------------------

Do you offer a number of products or services on your web
site? If so, we strongly recommend you test whether or not
this is the most effective strategy for you.

We've found that offering fewer products in one place with
more copy describing those products ALWAYS translates into
higher sales.

It's all about focus.

Instead of trying to please *everyone* who visits your web
site by offering a large range of products with minimal
detail about each one, if you offer just one product (or one
set of related products), you can really focus on one key
set of benefits and answer *all* of the possible questions
and doubts your visitors might have about your product.

And you don't have to stop selling your other products --
you can always offer them to your customers from other web
pages or by using follow-up offers (see Test #12).

Of course, the only way to find out for sure if this will
work with your target audience is to test it! Write a
salesletter for your lead product and put it on your
homepage. Run the test for a week or two to see how it
increases your sales!

------------------------------------------------------------
Test #2: Reposition your opt-in offer to BOOST your opt-ins
and build a bigger list of loyal subscribers!
------------------------------------------------------------

Your opt-in offer is your tool for gathering your customers'
e-mail addresses. In exchange for their address, you might
offer them a free report containing valuable information or
a regular free newsletter.

Your opt-in is your mechanism for building your e-mail list,
which allows you to regularly keep in touch with your
subscribers, build relationships of trust and loyalty, and
sell them your products or services.

But did you know that WHERE your opt-in offer appears on
your site can have a huge impact on how many subscribers you
attract?

If you don't use a long salesletter, test placing your
opt-in offer in as prominent a position as possible on your
homepage -- the top-left of a page is where visitors' eyes
are often drawn first.

At the very least, test placing your opt-in in the "first
fold" of your salesletter -- the area of screen first
visible to a visitor before they scroll down the page.

If you have a long salesletter, you should test placing it
within your second "page" of text -- after you've grabbed
your visitors' attention by identifying a problem they have
and established your credibility by impressing them with
your credentials, experience, and glowing testimonials from
happy customers.

You should also test placing your opt-in offer on EVERY page
of your web site so it's always in front of your visitors,
and try using a "hover ad" (see below). The more sign-up
opportunities you provide, the more subscribers you're
likely to get. Test it and see!

------------------------------------------------------------
Test #3: Add impact to your promotions with "hover ads"
------------------------------------------------------------

I'm sure everyone's familiar with pop-ups. They're the small
windows containing a special offer or other information that
sometimes "pop up" when you visit a web site.

Love 'em or hate 'em, pop-ups have been a very useful online
marketing tool for years. However, because a percentage of
Internet users disliked them, Google, AOL, Netscape, and
others developed pop-up blocking software to combat them.

Of course, Internet users should be able to *choose* whether
or not they want to view pop-ups. However, much of this
software *automatically* blocked pop-ups, meaning visitors
to a site started missing out on valuable information that
could benefit them.

But that was before we discovered a very impressive
technology that actually lets you use ads that BEHAVE like
pop-ups, but that are NOT pop-ups -- so they don't get
blocked. They're called "hover ads" and they're well worth
testing on your site.

In fact, when we tested adding a hover ad to our site,
sales increased by 162%! They're effective because they put
important information, such as your opt-in offer or a
special time-limited promotion, right in front of your
targeted visitors.

You can test placing your opt-in offer in your hover ad to
see if that boosts subscription numbers. When we did this,
86% more people subscribed to our newsletter!

You can also test how many more people click through to a
special offer page on your web site through a hover ad
versus through a regular link on your homepage. For more
information about how hover ads can work for you, check out:

http://www.marketingtips.com/hoverad

------------------------------------------------------------
Test #4: Feature different benefits in your headline
------------------------------------------------------------

Your headline has a HUGE impact on your sales. It's often
the first thing visitors to your site see so it must grab
their attention and compel them to read your salesletter.

A successful headline should highlight a problem your target
audience faces and stress the main benefit of your product
or service in solving this problem. Let's look at an example
that illustrates how a headline can be changed for maximum
impact.

One of our clients was using the following headline on his
site: "Box4Blox -- The Amazing Toy Storage Box For Lego."
The problem with this headline is that it tells you what the
product *is*, but not what it *does for you*. It doesn't
give a visitor any good reason to continue reading the rest
of the page.

Contrast this with "Finally! Discover the Secret That's Got
More Than 50,000 LEGO-Crazy Kids Worldwide Actually *LOVING*
Clean-Up Time!" This headline presents a major benefit of
the product and a solution to a problem -- in this case, how
to get kids to clean up after themselves, and actually enjoy
it.

------------------------------------------------------------
Test #5: Establish a problem in your copy and show how you
can solve it
------------------------------------------------------------

In the first couple of paragraphs that appear on your
homepage, you need to go into more detail about the problem
you introduced in your headline -- showing your audience that
you relate to them. (Only when your audience feels you
understand their problem will they feel confident that you
can solve it.)

Once the problem is established, you can then begin
introducing your product or service as the solution to this
problem. By emphasizing exactly *how* your product or
service will solve the reader's problem, you are guaranteed
to see a boost in sales!

------------------------------------------------------------
Test #6: Add credibility to your copy... and enhance your
visitors' trust in you
------------------------------------------------------------

It's vital that your salescopy establishes your credibility:
It's through this process that your visitors come to trust
you and feel comfortable enough to buy from you.

There are several ways you can do this effectively and we'll
talk about two of the quickest and easiest ones here. If
you're not already using these techniques, revamp your copy
and test it against what you're using now. You'll be
surprised by the difference.

One of the best ways to establish your credibility is to
include customer testimonials in your salesletter. These
should be excerpts from genuine e-mails or letters from
customers expressing how your product or service helped
solve the particular problem they faced.

This last point is important: A customer testimonial that
states *how* your product benefited them is much more
effective than one that just says something like, "Your
product is great!"

You can also enhance your credibility by adding a section to
your copy that outlines your credentials, experience, and
any background information that make you qualified to solve
your target audience's problem.

Your aim should be to effectively convince readers that
*you* are the best person to offer them a solution to their
problem.

------------------------------------------------------------
Test #7: Focus on your readers... not yourself
------------------------------------------------------------

The most successful salescopy focuses on the reader. Too
often, business owners neglect this simple golden rule. Look
carefully at your salescopy.

Is it filled with references to "I," "me," and "we"? Instead
of using sentences like, "I designed my time-management
software with the busy homeowner in mind," try "Your new
time-management software will free up hours of time for you
to spend with your family." See how much more powerful
that is?

Try searching on "I," "me," and "our" in your salescopy and
replace them with "you" and "your."

------------------------------------------------------------
Test #8: Instill urgency into your copy -- and convince
readers they need to buy NOW!
------------------------------------------------------------

It's very important that your salescopy instills a sense of
urgency in your visitors, compelling them to buy NOW. The
best place to do this is towards the end of your
salesletter, near the call to action (when you ask for the
sale).

Here are a few of the most effective ways to create a sense
of urgency. Try testing each one against your current copy:

- Offer a limited-time price discount offer where
visitors must buy before a certain date in order to
qualify for the discount

- Offer additional bonuses for free if they buy within a
certain time frame

- Offer only a limited quantity of your products or
services

- Offer a limited quantity bonus

------------------------------------------------------------
Test #9: Remove references to "buying" from the first fold
------------------------------------------------------------

People usually go online looking for free information. If
you start your sales pitch too early in your copy, you may
end up losing them before you've had the chance to hook
them.

You first need to get them interested in what you have
to say by relating to a problem they're facing (as I
outlined in Test #5) and how YOU can solve it. Once you've
accomplished that, you can start to sell to them.

Here's an easy way to improve the tone of your salesletter:
Try removing references to "buying," "cost," and "sale" from
the first fold, and compare the results to the copy you're
using now.

Don't mention anything to do with making a purchase or
spending money until after your reader is interested in
your product and trusts you enough to buy from you!

------------------------------------------------------------
Test #10: Boost your product's desirability by adding images
------------------------------------------------------------

Images of your products make them seem more tangible and
"real" to your visitors and are a powerful sales tool. In
fact, our testing shows that you can increase sales by more
than 10% just by adding product images.

But sometimes revealing what the product is too early in the
sales process can kill the sale -- you may need to highlight
the product benefits and value before you reveal exactly
what it is.

Test placing images near the top of the page against placing
them near the call to action at the bottom (where you're
asking for the sale).

You should also test adding images to your order page, and
test the response to using no images at all. By carefully
analyzing sales during each test, you'll learn exactly where
to place product images for maximum impact.

------------------------------------------------------------
Test #11: Grab the attention of "scanners" by changing the
formatting and appearance of your copy
------------------------------------------------------------

Very few visitors to your web site will read every word of
your salescopy from start to finish. Most will "scan" your
copy as they scroll down the page, reading only certain
words and phrases that jump out at them or catch their eye.

That's why you need to test highlighting your key benefits
to find the right combination that will grab the attention
of people who scan rather than read online.

These include --

- Using bold, italics, and highlighting (sparingly) to
emphasize the most important benefits of your offer

- Varying the length of your paragraphs so the page
doesn't just look like a block of uniformly formatted
text

- Adding sub-headlines that emphasize your key messages
and compel your visitors to read the paragraphs that
follow

- Leaving the right-hand side of your text ragged
(as that's easier to read than "justified" text that
uses the whole width of the page)

- Centering important -- but short -- chunks of text or
sub-headlines to further draw them out of the main body
of text

- Use bullet lists (like this one!) to emphasize key
points

------------------------------------------------------------
Test #12: Fine-tune your follow-up process to maximize sales
and attract more repeat business
------------------------------------------------------------

Following up with your customers and subscribers using
autoresponders (automated e-mails) is crucial to generating
more sales as it often takes several contacts before someone
buys from your site.

In your follow-up e-mails to new subscribers who haven't
bought from you yet, you can restate your offer and ask for
the sale again.

Try sending an immediate follow-up after new subscribers
sign up, giving them a reason to return to your site the same
day they sign up. You can test this against sending a
follow-up three days after subscribers first visit your site
to see which method works best.

Following up with existing customers is just as important.
In fact, tests show that 30% of customers will buy again if
they're given the chance.

It helps you develop profitable long-term relationships with
them and allows you to offer "backend" products relating to
their original purchase.

You can test sending a backend offer immediately after they
make a purchase against sending one three days afterwards to
see which approach generates more repeat business.

You can send unlimited free autoresponder follow-ups using
software like Mailloop:

http://www.marketingtips.com/mailloop

------------------------------------------------------------
Use the Web's hottest new testing strategy to refine your
sales process
------------------------------------------------------------

When testing, it's vital to only test one thing at a time so
that you know what change influenced the results. A method
of testing known as "split-testing" does just that.

It allows you to split your audience into two groups and
test, for example, one headline with one group and another
headline with the second group -- both at exactly the same
time!

It's an ideal testing strategy for any online business, but
especially for newer web sites with less traffic, as it
provides an excellent method for generating accurate test
results no matter your level of traffic.

Let's look at an example to illustrate how this works...

If you want to test elements of your salesletter, you need
to use your best-performing salesletter as a "control" -- a
benchmark against which all tests will be measured.

To test a new headline, for example, you need to create
another web page that's identical to your best-performing
one, but which includes the new headline. Using special
testing software, you then redirect half of your customers
to the old page and the other half to the new one -- over
exactly the same time period.

For example, if you have two customers called Bob and Jane,
testing software ensures that Bob sees salesletter "A" at
the same time as Jane sees salesletter "B" -- both on the
SAME URL. Your other customers are likewise split evenly
between the two different salesletters.

If you discover -- through tracking how many visitors go to
each page and how many sales each page makes -- that the
salesletter containing the new headline converts 15% more
visitors into sales, you know that the new headline is more
effective.

Then test other elements of the salesletter one at a time and
gradually fine-tune your sales process.

The software gives you the great advantage of testing the
two different letters over the same period. If you instead
test one headline over a couple of weeks, then the other
headline over the next couple of weeks, what if one of those
test periods includes a major holiday like July 4th, while
the other doesn't?

Or what if a major television event happens during one test
period but not the other? Both of these factors could
significantly skew your results if they resulted in fewer
people being online during one of your tests.

It's easy to set up a few basic tests, but as your business
grows and you become more experienced, you can carry out
more advanced testing using software like the following:

- *WebTrends 7* offers a range of testing services for a
one-time cost or monthly fee, and you can road-test
their services for free.

WebTrends 7 allows you to go beyond split-testing and
start testing a few different things at one time. You
can analyze exactly which combination of elements
(for example, a particular headline and opt-in offer
placement combination) works best.

http://www.webtrends.com

- Like WebTrends 7, *Offermatica* allows you to conduct
split testing and multivariable testing. Pricing is
based on a per visitor fee, and you can try their
services out first through their free demo.

http://www.offermatica.com

- *ClickTracks* allows you to track the response to your
tests and understand where your visitors come from as
well as how they travel through your site. You can try
their products for free, then pay a one-time or monthly
fee depending on your needs.

http://www.clicktracks.com

------------------------------------------------------------
Final thoughts
------------------------------------------------------------

At the Internet Marketing Center, one of our core values is
"Test everything; assume nothing!" That's because we know
after all these years on the 'Net that you just never know
what strategy or angle is going to work best for you...
until you test.

Corey taught me how important it is to keep on testing, even
*retesting* your star-performing strategies, because there
is always room for improvement.

It's all about constantly striving to be the best you can
be, in business as in everything else. And so my challenge
to you now is to put at least one of these tests I've
outlined for you into action TODAY!

Try tweaking your salescopy so you can "transfer ownership"
to your reader... or try a new hover ad to collect opt-in
e-mail addresses... or try using a new product image on your
sales page...

And never stop testing! As Corey proved time and time again,
success will be yours if you test everything... and assume
nothing.

======================================================

Copyright 1996-2005 by The Internet Marketing Center.
All rights reserved.

http://www.marketingtips.com/newsletters
======================================================
The Internet Marketing Center
Attn: Newsletter Subscription Dept.
1123 Fir Ave
Blaine, WA
98230

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