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Should I test at the top or bottom of the funnel first?
Posted By Chris Goward On July 19, 2012 @ 2:13 pm In FAQ,landing page optimization | 5 Comments
We routinely get great questions and insightful feedback from the webinars we conduct. Here’s a recent question from a webinar attendee that deserves a post in itself.
The short answer: No!
The slightly longer answer:
I’ve seen this advice bandied about and the rationale is askew.
First, I should clarify what I mean by the “top” and “bottom” of the conversion funnel.
The top of your website’s conversion funnel is where people generally enter the site. It includes your landing pages and any of your internal pages that also act as entry pages. This is where the initial persuasion happens.
Your landing page has to convince your prospects that they are on the right website, that you have the products or services they’re looking for and that they should spend time exploring to find out more.
They need to see messages that are relevant to their needs, a clear and compelling value proposition and a strong call-to-action.
Everything in-between the top and the bottom are various forms of product information and content pages. This is where your website needs to answer your prospects’ questions, sooth their objections and move them to take action. In this interior area of your website you need to optimize how to build confidence that you will fulfill your promises and meet their needs and wants.
The bottom of the funnel is ultimately where conversions happen: the shopping cart, lead gen forms, whitepaper download forms, webinar signup forms, payment processors, and the like. Once your prospect has made a decision to proceed with your desired action, the only thing standing between them and the goal is the transactional point. It usually involves the least fun part of a website: a form. Optimizing these parts of the funnel usually involve form interaction usability and reducing anxiety.
From a purely mathematical perspective, which portion of the funnel you start at makes no difference.
Here’s the math, in case you’re wondering:
x (1.325) * y = y (1.325) * x
So, there is no good mathematical argument to be made for starting at the top or the bottom.
The decision must be based on prioritizing the opportunities to improve conversion rates and revenue. And that depends on where the biggest problem areas are for the traffic segments on your website with the highest importance.
That’s why, when we develop a conversion optimization strategy  for clients, we prioritize the test opportunities based on three considerations:
You should start testing where you have the highest potential in these three areas to maximize your return on effort.
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 track your conversion goals properly: http://www.widerfunnel.com/conversion-rate-optimization/dont-try-to-lower-your-bounce-rate
 32.5% conversion rate lift: http://www.widerfunnel.com/proof/case-studies/sap-landing-page-optimization
 develop a conversion optimization strategy: http://www.widerfunnel.com/solutions/our-process
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