Oftentimes it’s pretty easy to look at a landing page, whether it’s a paid search landing page or an email landing page, and say, “Yep, I think we ought to test out a few alternate designs – no harm in that, and we’ll increase conversion.” However, many times there is much more heated debate around testing entirely different conversion funnels.

Often this reluctance to test entire funnels stems from the fact that IT will have to be much more closely involved since the technology may touch an order management system. A campaign landing page usually does enjoy the luxury of not having to interface with those systems or require IT involvement – marketing’s front-end designers can usually execute a landing page test.

Let’s look at an example, and how to tackle it very easily. A large financial services company had long wanted to decrease the abandonment of its online credit card application form. It was several pages long, with a series of questions and form fields, almost all of which were necessary in order to process the application. The response would be that the individual was approved, not approved, or that a decision was pending further research.

One of the company’s developers had explored building an AJAX-based form that would reduce the process to a single page that built as information was submitted. However, debates continued to abound within the company as to whether a multi-page form would convert better or the single-page form. The answer? Test it. But how?

Assuming you have a developer to build the new conversion funnel for you, the process to test it is very simple: Build the proposed new application form, and at the beginning of the existing funnel create a straight-forward redirect test. Send half of your customers to the first page of the multi-page form, and half to the 1-page AJAX form. Upon submitting the form, all customers get sent to the same ‘thank you’ page where you record the conversion. Now you can view the comparative performance of the two funnels against each other quite easily, just like a simple a/b test of a landing page.

But what if your credit card application funnel (or shopping cart checkout, or lead capture form) ends up showing no signal between such radically different experiences? What if the results appear to be the same, even long after statistical significance has been reached?

That’s when you perform customer segmentation analysis on the results. You may find that customers with fast connection speeds love the 1-page AJAX form just as much as your customers with slow connection speeds hate it. At that point, rather than choose one experience and push it out to everyone you should maximize your aggregate conversion rate by setting up a targeting rule where you give the 1-page form to anyone on fast connection speeds and the multi-page form to anyone on a slow connection speed. This way you don’t just get a so-so conversion rate overall. You get the best possible conversion rate from both groups.
Good general rule to follow: Instead of delivering the best-performing experience to everyone, deliver the best-performing experience for everyone. We’ll talk more about targeting another day…