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Testing Navigation on Landing Pages

FlightnavFor many years now a best practice has seemed to be creating landing pages that do not have any form of navigation other than the call to action and maybe a learn more link. The fear of having navigation usually rests in the notion that clear paths off the landing page will lower conversion rates by getting users to places that are further away from their goal or intent. The fact is, on better landing pages users should not feel the need to click on the navigation…and they will not.

What ends up happening is that navigation serves as a persuasive effect reinforcing certain clues that users look for as they scan the page during that crucial moment of recognition on landing. This works in tandem with the very helpful and all-important perceived ease of use that keeps users in the flow. (more on landing page perception and recognition here).

• Having navigation creates a better users experience
• Having navigation creates an implied sense of helpfulness
• Having navigation creates an implied sense of credibility
• Having navigation creates an implied sense of trust and security
• Having navigation creates an implied sense of professionalism

Recently we put these ideas to the test.

Test Element:
We took the global navigation that was used on the sites homepage and tested it as an element in a 3x2 multivariate test on a landing page. The navigation element was four tabs that were located across the top part of the page below the logo. The tabs were titled home, learn more, read reviews and open an account. They took users OFF the landing page to these internal pages on the client’s main website. The only way a user could have gotten back to the landing page was clicking the back button or a subsequent click on the paid search ad.

Source Segment:
In this particular test the traffic segment was branded keywords in Google, Yahoo and Live. This created some very interesting questions. Since most if not all of these queries are navigational in nature were visitors past consideration stage and ready to purchase? Therefore, not having navigation would be helpful since possibly the navigation would raise considerations when users were already (in their mind) past this stage in the conversion funnel.

The other school of thought was around the additional sense of brand credibility and reinforcement quantified at the beginning of the post -- that indeed the global navigation would be helpful in conversion from the landing page. The bets were placed…

Test Design:
Using the Taguchi methodology to create an orthogonal array there were four pages created for this 3x2 multivariate test. The other tested elements were the headline and the main benefits messaging area.

Results:
The two pages with the navigation outperformed the ones without navigation by a combined 8%. Most importantly looking at the element contribution report we find that having the navigation was the overwhelming factor of influence on this lift in conversion. Top nav had an overwhelming 45% contribution on the increase in conversion rate. The benefits element contributed a 28% factor of influence followed closely by the headline at 27%.

Summary:
This is not the first time I’ve seen these kind of results. It’s much more common than not for global navigation to provide a large lift in conversion rates. This is especially true in lead-generation for financial services. Most notable was a test I conducted on landing pages in the hyper-competitive "free credit report" space. In that instance having navigation doubled conversion rates. Whatever your vertical, testing navigation should be a key part of your landing page optimization program.

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Comments

May I ask what tool you used to run your 3x2 multivariate test?

Very interesting stuff. Have you done any similar testing on navigation in broadcast e-mails?

Great Blog post. I love reading the testing outcomes. I'm working to create some Best Practices based on test results (aka Real Data) and I'd like to see any more of these types of tests from your site or others. Feel free to shoot an email if you know of some interesting posted results.

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