Landing page optimization

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Landing page defines a page where a visitor enters a site. The landing page simply could be the home page. Most often it is a specially crafted page. The page a visitor is made to land could depend on various strategies, like

  • User's origin and other browser data
  • Data collected from visits to this and other websites (via cookies)
  • The referrer page or email message, i.e. the button s/he clicked on to get there.

According to Wikipedia, “In online marketing a landing page, sometimes known as a lead capture page, is a single web page that appears in response to clicking on an advertisement. The landing page will usually display directed sales copy that is a logical extension of the advertisement or link. Landing pages are often linked to from social media, email campaigns or pay per click (PPC) campaigns in order to enhance the effectiveness of the advertisements.”

Landing page optimization seeks to improve the so-called conversation rate, i.e. have users do something like buying an article, signing up, ordering more information, donating money etc.

In a broader sense, Wikipedia identifies two kinds of landing pages, reference landing pages and transactional landing pages. Let's illustrate the concept with respect to academia:

  • A reference landing page should present information that is relevant to the user. In that sense, each page of this wiki for example, could be considered a landing page. One also could argue that visitors that entered vague search terms should land on overview or "portal" pages that would display a short introductory text plus interesting internal and external links. The Interaction design, user experience and usability could be such a page.
  • A transactional page “seeks to persuade a visitor to complete a transaction such as filling out a form or interacting with advertisements or other objects on the landing page, with the goal being the immediate or eventual sale of a product or service. [...] A visitor taking the desired action on a transactional landing page is referred to as a conversion. The efficiency or quality of the landing page can be measured by its conversion rate, the percentage of visitors who complete the desired action. Since the economics of many online marketing programs are determined by the conversion rate, marketers constantly test alternatives and improvements to their landing pages. Some of the testing methods used are A/B testing and multivariate testing.” (Wikipedia, retrieved April 11 2011.

See also tools: Google analytics, Google webmaster tools (there exist other tools too ...)

Goals, funnels, conversion rates and landing pages

Goals and conversion rates

The conversion rate can be expressed with a simple formula:

conversion rate = number of achieved goals (desired actions) / visits.

Typically, in the world of e-commerce, a goal is a URL which a visitor reaches once they have completed a desired action, e.g. made a purchase filled in a registration form, made a download, etc. Tools like Google analytics allow to measure this.

Goal conversion is more difficult to measure in a web site like this since one would simply like visitors to read the page and to explore other pages. This could be measured by the length of average stay and whether s/he visited other pages or note. Now let's suppose that we want users to do that on edutech wiki. With help of software like Google Analytics we can get some information. As a whole the EdutechWiki website (en/fr) gets about 1 million visits / year.

   1.52   Pages/Visit 
   81.22% Bounce Rate, i.e. users only look at one page
   78.50% New Visits
   1:25   Average time on site

In academia, a more relevant index could be number of citations and back-links found in a specialized search engine like google scholar, i.e. some kind of proof that user actually use the information. In google scholar, we get 132 links for "EduTechWiki" and for "EduTech wiki" we get 53 links. Some of these are irrelevant, e.g. from our own web sites. Compare that to Google search, where we get over 100'000 for "edutechwiki".

For online journals and other more formal publication formats, we would simply get statistics from academic citation indexes. EduTechWiki of course would get a very low score from these.

Use of wiki landing pages

Let's now return to the principle of a wiki landing page, i.e. some sort of overview page that typical users should visit and also use for navigation. Looking at March 2011 statistics of the Flash tutorials page, we can see the page was viewed 202 times. 63% came from previous pages, and 63% went to other pages. So far so good. However, if one looks at the traffic of some popular Flash pages we can see for example that visitors going to the most popular Flash pages did not go to the landing page which is normal since they were not interested ("Actionscript" in the title is actually a bit of misnomer, since we talk about timeline scripting for absolute beginners). The typical bounce rate for EduTechWiki is about 80% and the exit rate is 66%. However, within the users that stay on the site there should be more visits to the Flash tutorials page....

March 2011 statistics for some pages
Pages Page Views unique views Av. time on site Bounce rate Exit
ActionScript_3_event_handling_tutorial 5,680 5,321 00:03:54 87.13% 85.85%
ActionScript_3_interactive_objects_tutorial 2,402 1,943 00:03:31 69.14% 66.11%
Flash_drag_and_drop_tutorial 2,167 1,859 00:04:25 80.77% 76.00%

With respect to EduTechWiki there are several things we should do to improve functionality of "landing pages", e.g.:

  • Identitfy all overview and menu pages.
  • Redesign them with a more graphic look and a clearer identity, e.g. like the "portals" on Wikipedia
  • Write a small but good introductory section
  • Link many other the pages to the overview pages, e.g. by creating special template.


Design tips