Double or Triple Your Landing Page Conversion Rates with Taguchi Testing
By Robert W. Bly
Direct marketers are forever saying, “Test, test, test.”
But in actuality, many direct marketers do little or no testing at all.
Sure, the big-volume consumer direct marketers – like Publisher’s Clearinghouse and Phillips Publishing – test all the time.
But many small and mid-size companies say they don’t have the budget, time, or a large enough universe to make testing worthwhile.
Even among big direct marketers, testing is often limited to simple A/B split tests – headline “A” vs. headline “B,” or a price test between $99, $199, and $299.
And that’s in direct mail. In space ads, A/B split testing is increasingly rare, as the majority of publications neither offer nor encourage it.
But thanks to technology … specifically the Internet … testing is undergoing a revival using a technique called “Taguchi testing.”
If you’re already familiar with and using Taguchi testing, you may get a few useful ideas out of this article.
But if you are not, then listening to what I am about to tell you could be the most important development in your Internet marketing this decade.
Since I am not a Taguchi expert, I won’t attempt to go into the technical or statistical details, which I don’t really understand anyway.
Instead, let’s discuss Taguchi testing on a high level.
Specifically, Taguchi testing is a system where, with a landing page or other online direct response promotion, you test not one but many variables – economically and in a relatively short time frame.
David Bullock, President of Results Squared, a consultancy offering Taguchi testing services to direct marketers, says that his program typically involves testing the following promotion elements: three pre-heads, six headlines, three subheads, three salutations (e.g., “Dear Home Builder” vs. “Dear Lumber Buyer” vs. “Dear Wood Trader”), three lead paragraphs, three visuals (e.g., a product photo vs. a photo of the inventor vs. a photo of a happy customer), three guarantees, and three calls to action.
But you can choose to test other elements – bonuses, prices, even different lists of bullets in the copy – really, anything you want. Other factors Bullock often tests include traffic source (e.g., organic search traffic vs. Google Adwords vs. e-mail) and what he calls “predisposition to purchase.”
“Predisposition to purchase” is a measure of how convinced the prospect is of the offer’s value before he even clicks onto the landing page. For instance, a visitor responding to an e-mail sent by a joint venture partner to his list of loyal readers has a greater predisposition to believe the message than a visitor who finds the page from a keyword search.
With specialized Taguchi testing software, each unique visitor to the site sees the landing page with a different combination of the elements being tested.
The results are measured, tabulated, and analyzed. Reports are generated to show which headline pulled the best, which lead paragraph pulled best, which visual pulled best, and so on.
The advantage is that you are testing multiple versions of many key variables in landing page performance, and not just two versions of one variable as is usually the case with traditional A/B split tests.
Therefore, conversion is increased incrementally for each variable, e.g., a 20 percent lift in orders for the best headline, a 17 percent increase in conversion for the best lead, and so on.
By incorporating the winning versions of all variables tested in the final landing page, Taguchi testing can double, triple, even quadruple or more the conversion rate of your landing pages.
To do Taguchi testing, you need to write complete copy for your landing page along with the needed elements listed above: the six headlines, three subheads, and so on.
Then, you give the copy to your Taguchi testing service and you are ready to roll. You can find several Taguchi testing vendors listed under “Taguchi Testing” on the Vendors page of my web site www.bly.com.
In the “good old days,” it would take many weeks, or even a couple of months, to get a valid reading on a direct mail test – and even then, it was usually just an A/B split of two different packages, prices, or headlines.
But because Taguchi testing is done online, you get the results much faster. Depending on the amount of traffic being driven to the URL and the conversion rates, says Bullock, a complete test can be completed and verified in 3 to 5 weeks.
The amount of traffic required also depends on conversion rate, since statistical validity of testing is based not on “number of pieces mailed” – or online, on amount of traffic – but on number of responses – or in the case of a landing page, number of sales made.
Typically you want to get at least 1,000 unique visits per test cell. Depending on the number of test cells, you need anywhere from 12,000 to 20,000 visits for a complete test.
About the author:
Robert W. Bly is a freelance copywriter and the author of more than 60 books including The Copywriter’s Handbook (Henry Holt & Co.). His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org and his Web site address is www.bly.com.