February 3, 2010

Easy Steps for Testing Your Website Copy

Posted by 2Checkout Category IconMarketing

Karon Thackston

One of the biggest mistakes any website owner can make is putting up a site and walking away. Websites are not static. That’s because, even if you’ve gotten good results from your existing copy, there are always gains to be had.

“But how do I test my copy?” people ask. It’s actually very easy, thanks to some free tools provided by Google. Install Google Analytics, or have your web designer install it, and add the tracking code to every page of your site. Then start testing. You can do this by either comparing data in Analytics or by using Google’s free Website Optimizer to conduct A/B tests.

Website tests can get very elaborate, but they don’t have to be. Simple A/B tests (where you make one change and then compare the results between version A and version B) are the basis for most online testing. Set up two versions of the same page. Make a single change to one of the versions, then track the results.

It isn’t surprising to find that the slightest changes can pull the biggest lifts in conversion rate.

What You Should Test

Where do you start? At the beginning. There are numerous areas of any given page that can (and should) be tested. Let’s go over a few of them.

Headlines

By far, THE most-read section of any web page is the headline. Because of the importance of this snippet of text, it deserves to be tested often. I recommend starting with two very different headlines to see which pulls best.

Once there’s a clear winner, do some micro-testing. Exchange adjectives: instead of “great” use “awesome,” for instance. Play around with verbs: rather than “improve” try “increase.” Change the order of the words in the headline. Unless you are familiar with multivariant testing, make one change at a time until improvements level off.

If your copy uses sub-heads, repeat this same process to test them as well.

I have personally conducted tests that resulted in an 84% increase in conversion rate just by changing the word “creative” to “expert.”

Opening Paragraph

The opening paragraph is usually the second most-read section of a web page. While this content always needs to support the headline, test various ways of communicating your ideas to your visitors.

If you sell pet bedding, the copy on your Home page might read:

Handmade with love, these adorable pet beds are filled with 100% organic cotton padding to ensure comfort and a peaceful night’s sleep.

That has a very feminine tone. Change it up and test something like:

After romping through the woods or clowning around at the dog park, your best friend will sleep like a rock on these overstuffed, 100% organic cotton pet beds.

Other Areas to Test

What else can you test? Everything!

  • Bullet Lists – If you don’t use bullet lists, add some. If you have them, change the order of the bullets.
  • Captions – Switch up the captions under your images. Don’t have captions? Add some.
  • Images – Change the images you use, or keep the same images and adjust the sizes to be larger or smaller.
  • Text Color – Change a headline or important sentence from black to red or blue or green.

If it’s on your web page, the content can be tested. Take an inch-by-inch tour of your Home page. With each element you encounter, ask yourself, “What can I change about this copy?” Then set out to discover where improvements can be found.

By Karon Thackston © 2010, All Rights Reserved Karon Thackston is author of the Step-by-Step Copywriting Course, now in its 5th Edition. Copy not converting well or boosting your search engine rankings? Get Karon’s self-paced web / SEO copywriting course at http://www.CopywritingCourse.com and learn to write like a pro.