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on Conversion Rate Optimization

See How a Simple Paragraph Rewrite Increased Sales Leads by 150%

Arlington Plastics Machinery sells used plastic equipment and extruders. We recently ran an interesting A/B test which resulted in significant gains for us. This case study is about that test.

We examined our most highly-trafficked pages and found that our inventory page was quite hard to use. It lists 119 subcategories of plastics machinery, which is pretty overwhelming.

Here’s a screenshot of the original page:

Arlington Plastics original inventory page

In an attempt to understand how to simplify this page and get better leads from it, we began to dig in deeper into the data insights of the page.

Test Background & Hypothesis

In Google Analytics, we found that several of our sub-categories were vastly more popular than the rest. We speculated that a more prominent display of the most popular sub-categories in the inventory page would increase quote/information requests.

Our internal site-search data indicated that far more people were searching for types of machines (like, “granulators”) rather than purposes of machines (such as, “size reduction”) that we listed in our original page. We wanted to test whether mirroring the language used by the customers would improve conversions.

We also noticed that our original call-to-action on the page was to prompt people to call us, in case they are unable to find any plastic machinery on the website. But by paying close attention to a few sales calls, we found that a lot of people were calling in with questions besides requests for help in finding a particular plastic machine.

There were queries about price requests, and also specific questions like, “What type of extruder would work best for this project?” and so on.

We speculated that a more open-ended phone call-to-action would increase leads over the phone compared to our original call-to-action that prompted people to call us only if they need help in finding any particular plastic machinery on the website.

Test Hypothesis

Our hypothesis was that changing the introductory paragraph to match customers’ concerns better will improve usability of the page and generate more quote requests.

The Changes Made by Us

We ran the test with Visual Website Optimizer and made the following changes in the introductory paragraph using their WYSISYG (What You See is What You Get) Editor:

  1. We added links to the 5 most popular subcategories in the opening paragraph.
  2. We listed machine types rather than purposes (e.g. “single-screw extruders” rather than “Extrusion”).
  3. Added the open-ended phone call-to-action

Here’s an easy comparison table of the introductory paragraph for you:

Original Introductory Paragraph The New Version of the Introductory Paragraph
Arlington Plastics Machinery has a vast inventory of used and surplus plastics machinery. View our selection of plastics processing equipment, categorized by equipment type and function. Plastic equipment in stock includes: Blow Molding, Extrusion, Injection Molding, Support Equipment, Rotomolding, Size reduction, and Thermoforning. If you don’t see what you’re looking for, feel free to call and see if we can help find the plastic machine you need. Arlington Plastics Machinery has a vast inventory of used and surplus plastics machinery, including single-screw extruders, twin-screw extruders, horizontal injection molders, granulators, shredders, and more. Have any questions? Please call us at [phone number]!

 

The treatment page generated 150% higher leads than the original page, with 99.9% statistical confidence. An additional $15,000 worth of sales queries were generated during the test. If our conversion rate remains constant over the next 12 months, the new version will increase annual sales by $500,000.

Here’s a comparison image of the two versions:

Aarlington Plastics comparison image

Insights & Conclusions

Ease of navigation is critically important even if your website’s users are savvy and committed (e.g. procurement officers evaluating an $100,000 injection molder).

When you have a long list of options, test ways to help people navigate to the most popular options. For example, we found that including prominent links to major categories in the introductory paragraph worked very well.

Another possible option would be using an intelligently designed side-navigation (e.g. like Amazon’s departments) to help people quickly identify & locate your most critical offerings.

We’ve started a similar test and have added links to the largest manufacturers in the introductory paragraph of our Manufacturers page. Our preliminary results are highly encouraging.

Possible Additional Tests

Right now, our inventory page’s sub-navigation lists purposes of machines (e.g. blow molding and size reduction). I hypothesize that this is an opportunity for improvement (e.g. blow molders and granulators).

If you have any ideas for additional tests, please let me know!

Comments (3)

Leave a Comment
  1. Everyone who reads this, please understand why the 5 links and call-to-action wording improved conversions. If you just start linking stuff and changing your call-to-actions to open-ended, I wouldn’t be surprised if you decreased conversions.

    Creating tests based on analytics and user feedback often gets you the biggest results. I’ve written a free guide to show you how, using similar methods as Brian, at: http://www.onlinevisions.com.au/blog/the-ultimate-guide-to-increase-your-ecommerce-conversion-rate/

    For future test ideas Brian, I’d use a widget like webengage.com and talk with your sales staff to see what people ask. Wouldn’t be surprised if you learn new things on that page and other pages that need improvements.

  2. Thanks for the advice, Joshua. I find it is very valuable to listen to sales calls and/or speak to sales staff. Their most common types of sales calls are 1) “What is the asking price for this particular unit?” and 2) “Do you have a [insert machine type] with [a particular specification]?” We also have a substantial amount of people (perhaps 40% of callers) calling in with miscellaneous information requests about particular units (e.g. “where is this unit located,” “how recently has it been operated,” warranty questions, “may I set up an appointment to see the unit,” leasing questions, etc).

    I would speculate that our open-ended call-to-action is more effective because people have been calling in with so many different types of questions (rather than just looking for help finding a machine). If the large majority of callers had been looking for a particular piece of information (e.g. mainly looking for a price), I would hypothesize that a more specific CTA would have been more effective. However, we haven’t tested a phrase centered around getting a price quote yet. Since more people have called in looking for a quote than for assistance finding a unit, that strikes me as a promising opportunity for a test.

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