Whenever I look for a new page to optimize, I generally use the following rule of thumb:
Pick a page with the MOST opportunity.
This doesn’t mean to pick your worst performing page, which seems counter-intuitive—but hear me out.
Just because a page is performing poorly doesn’t mean it should take priority. Ideally, you want to find a page that will have the biggest impact for your particular campaign, e.g., boost sales, leads, etc….
How do you find these pages? Well, you have to dig into your data (you can read more about that here).
Today, I’m going to give you a shortcut to determining the perfect pages for optimization and share why some of your mid-funnel pages are the unsung heroes of potential!
First, let’s talk about…
Where Most People Like to Start Working (…and Why it May Not Be the Best Place to Start)
1. The Homepage
I totally get why most people like to start here.
For one, it’s the beginning of the Customer Journey and where better to start than the beginning? Also, this is the page that generally gets the most traffic and is the most well-known internally.
However, for a lot of those reasons that should DISQUALIFY running systematic tests on the homepage. Let’s look at the DM.com homepage to give some context.
Funny story: We didn’t split test our new homepage vs. the old homepage.
We did a significant number of user tests (both passive and active) and used that data to make the page more intuitive for the user to complete the actions they want to achieve at this part of the journey.
The homepage is kind of like that amusement park directory you see at Disney.
Each visitor has a unique reason to be on your site and their goals will differ (a lot of this will is dictated by source type and the level of affinity with the brand). In the case of DigitalMarketer, people are coming to the page to do all sorts of different actions such as:
- Visiting the blog
- Logging in to DM Lab
- Going to DM HQ
- Viewing our Products Page
- Consuming the content on the page to learn about the company
- Getting an invitation to DM Lab
Take a look at all the different actions people are taking on the site! In the heat map below, it shows the hottest click areas on our homepage. Needless to say, there’s a lot going on!
So, despite there being a ton of traffic coming to this page, we can’t consolidate the conversion action! In fact, if we were going to break out segments we cut our traffic significantly, which would make it harder to test and undermines the original reason to test here: traffic.
Another difficulty with making changes on the homepage is there are a lot of stakeholders involved with the homepage and you might not be cleared to make the changes you want!
The homepage is likely the most internally politicized page on your site and due to the number of links, differences in visitor goals, and several degrees of separation from the bottom funnel converting actions, so it shouldn’t be your first page to optimize!
Okay, so if the homepage is a dumpster fire and you shouldn’t begin optimizing, where should you go?
2. The Shopping Cart
Anyone who has seen me speak, gone through the Optimization & Testing Mastery course, or has read a few of my posts knows I’m all about deep funnel optimization. I generally tell people to start in the cart because what you do there will be directly connected to the bottom funnel converting action and this is your most QUALIFIED traffic.
However, there are few MAJOR issues that could make this difficult to do.
1. You’ll need to rely on development
Optimizing your cart will require both a design period and a longer integration period than a standard landing page or homepage. More testing has to occur and your dev team will have to do more work.
2. These are some of the lowest traffic volume pages on your site
Your cart is a few clicks away from the visitor’s entrance page. For every click a visitor has to make, you’re going to see drop-off.
3. Unless you’re doing a massive redesign, you’ll be stuck with iterative changes
Small changes generally get small results.
Sure, there are a few tweaks you can do, e.g., better form validation, more trust seals, etc….but the former is a functional change that you don’t need to test (just implement) and the latter is a minor trust indicator that will likely add no real value to the page.
When you’re making small iterative changes you’ll eventually reach a local maxima, or your conversion ceiling. Unless you make more drastic changes, which will require even MORE development time, you won’t be getting the return some case studies lead you to believe you should get by making a small change.
Okay, Justin, well if I shouldn’t start on the homepage or in the cart, where the heck can I start?
Good question, young grasshopper. Well, let’s find a page that is…
- closer to the converting action,
- has a decent amount of traffic,
- and has a unified conversion goal.
I’ll let you try to guess which page!
The Product Page!
Now, I’m putting a little disclaimer here: if you have conversions coming out the wazoo on your product page, then this breaks my first “Opportunity” rule. However, if you haven’t taken a look at your page in a while, well, it’s time to take a look!
The product page meets all three of the main criteria I listed above. Let me break it down for you.
1. Closer to the Converting Action
The product page is a single click away from the final converting action. If you’re selling a single product then after they click “Add to Cart” they are in your cart and ready to check out. You shouldn’t consider the “add to cart” action as a sale, but that micro-conversion is darn close and can be an indicator of how your product page is performing.
If you sell multiple products the consumer might decide to continue to shop, but as long as you have a persistent check out CTA then they are still a single click away from checkout!
Take a look at what Bonobos does.
As soon as I hit “Add to Cart” my cart is displayed on the right-hand side. I have the option to continue shopping with the arrow in the top left corner, or the more important option, to check out.
2. Has a Decent Amount of Traffic
Okay, I know your product pages won’t have as much traffic as your homepage or even some of your PPC landing pages. However, they will definitely have more than your cart! Take a look:
So, this product page got 4,099 unique visits over the last 30 days.
Now here’s the cart page…
And this page only had 1,014 unique visits.
The product page gets just under four times the amount of traffic as the cart, that’s:
- a huge area of opportunity
- and a lot more traffic to work with when running your test.
If you look at the “add to cart” metric as an indicating metric, then that’s a 24.7% add-to-cart conversion rate. We definitely have the raw numbers to begin running tests on this page. Now, like I said, you don’t want to mistake “add to cart” conversions with sales, but you can certainly use them as an indicating metric.
When you opt to make changes on your product pages, measure both “add to cart” conversions and sales. Take a look at your numbers and see if there is any correlation between the two. This will make it easier to connect the success of your product page with your sales metrics (and works wonders if you have low traffic).
Note: If you have a ton of traffic and are making a lot of sales, then you could just focus on the primary sales metrics.
So, if you’re struggling to find pages to optimize on your site, I think you should really start digging into your product pages. These pages meet traffic requirements, are focused, and are much easier to directly connect to the bottom funnel converting action (as opposed to landing pages and homepages).
This opens a whole new can of worms!
(NOTE: Want the questions, elements, types, and formats for creating the perfect product page? I created a brand new Execution Plan inside DigitalMarketer Lab on Building & Optimizing The Perfect Product Page! If you’re a DigitalMarketer Lab member, check it out now. If you’re not, join DM Lab for just $1 to get access to this Execution Plan—and 30+ more!)
How to Optimize Your Product Pages
You have your page but how the heck should begin to optimize it?
Well, let’s go back to something Ryan Deiss has said time and time again:
If marketing is just the articulation of a Before and After state, then a good product page is one that clearly articulates the move from the Before and After state.
When you approach any page, you have to remember one VERY important axiom:
YOU ARE NOT YOUR CUSTOMER
The questions you want the page to answer are likely not the questions your customer needs answered. Here’s how you should approach your product page (and you can use this structure for any kind of page!)
Step 1: Identify the questions your customers need answered.
Step 2: Use the elements on the page, e.g., copy, images, icons, ratings, etc.., to articulate the answers to these questions.
Step 3: Pick a page layout that is…
- familiar to your demographic
- prioritizes the elements in such a way that their main questions are answered at the appropriate time
Those steps require some research, but I’ve done that already! So, here’s my quick n’ dirty Product Page approach.
6 Questions Your Product Page Must Answer
Other than the standard things like price and product name, there are six main questions your page MUST answer
- What does it look like?
- How does it work?
- How big or small is it?
- Can it be delivered to me & for how much?
- Am I able to return it if I don’t like it?
- Can I trust this company?
All of your page elements have to answer these questions QUICKLY.
So, what page elements are these questions answering, Justin?
I’m glad you asked!
12 Page Elements Commonly Found on Product Pages
Now, when it comes to page design, all you’re doing is organizing the answers of your customer’s questions in a logical way.
- Ratings & Reviews
- Proper CTA(s)
- Live Chat
- In/Out Of Stock
- Bundle/Cross Sell/Upsell
Product pages don’t see major design variants and that’s a good thing! However, you need to pick the right design to do the right job.
If you have multiple SKUs you’re going to want to go with the standard ecommerce shop. You’ll see that they stick a TON of information above the fold. Though it looks cluttered, this is what the customer expects to see… so it’s cool!
For 90% of the ecommerce sites out there, this will be about what your page looks like.
What’s important is to make sure the elements you highlight are ones your actual users care about. You can figure this out using passive user testing tools like TruConversion.
For organizations that have a little more persuading to do or have a single product/product line, you might use a totally different design. You’ll likely have to rely on a long form page! Take a look at what Apple does on their product page:
Note: the screen capture gets a little weird because they have a hover over effect. I’d recommend checking the page out in another tab.
I like to use Apple as an example because they still use a “long form sales letter,” but they take a much different approach. They are using visuals and leveraging their brand to tell you a persuasive story and inform you about the product.
<rant> So if anyone tells you people don’t use long form sales letters anymore, tell them they’re wrong. The sales letter just got a makeover. </rant>
These types of pages are highly customizable and work great for companies that have a few products. However, this is not a scalable option for large scale ecommerce sites.
Finally, your customers might be interested in how your other products compare to one another. If you have different types of products with different features and price points, then your product page might take the comparison route.
This will lack a lot of persuasive factors but will answer a very important question: “Which one should I get?”
So, if you made it this far down, I hope you’ve been inspired to take a look at your current product page and are thinking of cool new ways to address the questions your customers need answered and start bringing the sales in.