For majority of businesses, approx. 85-90% of the traffic enters the website from the Home Page. Out of which, a staggering 70-75+% is driven by Search Engine Marketing initiatives. Considering the importance of Home Page in driving such a significant % of traffic volume, it’s very important for the content and merchandising teams to serve the relevant content on this page, which should not only resonate with the audience’s needs but, also motivate them to go deeper in to the Site Taxonomy and impact the macro indicators.
Since last couple of years here at Nabler, we have received numerous requests from our clients to optimize their Home Page to cater the wider audience needs but, there is no cookie-cutter approach. Majority of the clients wants to control the Bounce Rate on their Home Page and improve the Visit Depth of the online visitor. However, this optimization task has become quite daunting and politically challenging for reasons that can be best categorized in to these three –
- Diversity in the audience needs,
- Increase in the number of marketing channels, and
- Higher expectations from the business teams.
In today’s scenario, it requires a lot of approvals from the internal business teams to do any optimization on the Home Page. Convincing them even for testing is not an easy game due to the sheer volume of traffic this page drives and its participation in the overall conversion on the website.
Hence, for any optimization effort on the Home Page, it requires smart planning and support from the internal business teams to avoid any chaos later on. If you are among those online players, who are contemplating about optimizing the Home Page for the upcoming Holiday Season, here are some tips for you to keep in mind:
- Benchmark Your Engagement Numbers : Often times, our clients ask for industry benchmarks relevant to their vertical so that, they could gauge their performance relative to the benchmarks but, due to the dynamic nature of this online industry and rapid change in the consumer behavior, it’s very difficult to come up with reliable numbers. So, we usually suggest our clients to benchmark their current numbers with the past and consistently strive for improvement. There are 3 key engagement metrics for the online business that should be looked at on regular intervals i.e. Bounce Rate, Avg. Time Spent per Visit and Page Views per Visit.
- Identify Your Top 3 Volume Generating Segments : Before starting with an optimization process, it is important to understand “What” is happening on the website and “Who” are making it happen. Perform a deep dive analysis of your visitor data to identify the traits of the visitors who contribute to the high volume. A commonality of the traits and patterns will lead to categorizing the visitors into segments. Once you define your visitor segments, identify those 3 visitor segments, which are contributing the most traffic and have a potential to impact your macro indicators.
- Gauge The Synchronization Between Your Top Segments Objectives And Their Engagement Behavior : Visitors who are grouped into the top segments would display one or a few behavior pattern. The objectives with which visitors came to the Home Page can be inferred to form stronger segments. A thorough analysis of this will help you find the impact areas which can be controlled, tweaked and thereby optimized. The engagement behavior of visitors in the top identified segments will have to be studied, which can be compared with the objectives of the visitors in those segments.
- Identify The Frustrating Elements Of Their Browsing Journey : Ironically, there would also be visitors who came to the site Home Page with an objective, but due to multiple reasons, the visitor could get frustrated during the entire browsing journey. In most cases, analysis of aggregate numbers and then further drill down to identify the root cause of such visit patterns can be useful to eliminate those frustrating elements. Identify all possible signs of visitors who got frustrated at one point or another within the Home Page or few pages after the Home Page.
- Determine The Potential Content Or Layout Changes For The Home Page : Often, there could be disagreements between the content team and merchandising team for the content on the Home Page. There could also be possibilities of multiple content options by one team. Since the objective at any point of time is to encourage the visitors to engage in a better way and then convert, it is advised to run a test to let the visitors decide the best among the multiple content options. Additionally, for multiple content options in the Home Page, design new Home Page layouts with variations in their placement. The right content or template layout can be decided by running an ab Test, Partial Factorial Test (MVT) or a Full Factorial Test.
- Define Your Test Strategy : Having the potential content to target to the right visitor segments needs a robust Test Strategy. While the audience segments are defined and variation of content or layout gets decided for the Home Page, which is the page to be optimized, decide the goals of testing the Home page. Devise the hypothesis based upon the test objectives and the problem to be solved. This will help generate testing variations for meaningful test results.
- Create Your Test Execution Plan : Once the Home Page alternatives are ready, prepare coding requirements according to the specifications provided by testing tool. Configure the testing tool for the experiment along with defining the ‘control’, which would be the Home Page and ‘challenger(s)’, which would be the alternate version(s) to be tested. This will also look into the alternative content hosting, which will depend upon the Testing tool. Configuring the test by defining the audience segments and to target the variations according to the segments will be the key components at this execution plan.
- Execute Your Tests And Measure The Results : The test will be ready to start after the Test Strategy and Test Execution plan have been defined and completed. Depending upon the type of test being run, during the test execution stage, the results can be continually monitored within the test tool along with the web analytics reporting tool. The primary indicators for the test of the Home Page with relevant content targeted to potential audience segments would be Confidence Level, Home Page Bounce Rate, Lift % vs Control, Performance by Segments, Average Time Spent on the Home Page and Depth of Visits.
With these tips now, you can go ahead with your continual optimization process. If you haven’t started any testing and targeting program targeting relevant content on the Home Page yet, get in touch with us to get a detailed plan of execution and get on the optimization bandwagon.