Talk Business (www.talkbusiness.net) is a well known and established brand in the Arkansas market, delivering breaking business news and political stories throughout the region. They generate revenue through print subscriptions and online advertising. Click Laboratory was challenged to come up with ways for increasing the number of email subscribers to the newsletters produced by the team at Talk Business.
Studying the web analytics, it was found that the website attracts a large amount of traffic through its RSS feeds, newsletters and social media. Also, most of the visitors are loyal fans of Roby Brock and Talk Business that return several times a month. But a third of this visiting traffic are new visitors that haven’t been to the site in at least the last four months.
Even though the homepage is the primary entrance point for most new visitors, the current stories are a major entrance point for the site. After studying the heatmaps for the website, it became apparent that most people were ignoring the top menu for navigation through the site and were rather just clicking on article headlines to navigate to what they wanted.
Website Optimization Changes
The Red Button Test
The team at Click Laboratory chose to run an A/B test on the Newsletter link at the top of the page. The test was compared the traffic clicking on this link to a red button highlighting the link. Basically, it was an attempt to increase the awareness of the subscription feature on the site and improve the click through rate.
Initially, the red button link showed a 300% improvement in the first week over the standard link. But as expected, as visitors became accustomed to the button and the novelty wore off, the amount of improvement dropped to a 10% improvement over the original. Visitors simply became accustomed to the red button and the regulars to the website stopped clicking through. But this was a nice increase because it was mostly new visitors clicking through to the Subscription page which were the primary targets of the test.
Newsletter Form Design
The second step was to improve the form conversion rate for people signing up for the newsletter. The original form was hosted on Mailchimp servers and had very little branding relevant to Talk Business. Another A/B test was setup to compare the conversion rates of this form against placing the form on a branded page on talkbusiness.net. The new design quickly won with a 50% conversion rate improvement over the old design.
These early tests show that significant gains can be made to increase subscribers, even on well designed websites, with some very simple changes. But this testing strategy doesn’t stop and everyone declares victory. The Lab continues to work with Talk Business to optimize the website and adapt the design to meet these needs of all their visitors and subscribers, which equals new business opportunities.