|Website:||Merchant Services Website|
|Case study:||Merchant Warehouse Case Study PDF|
Founded in Boston in 1998, Merchant Warehouse specializes in providing online and offline merchants with credit card processing services and equipment, and today supports more than 50,000 customers.
In a competitive industry where services are predominantly marketed online, “our challenge is to obtain customers as cost-efficiently as possible,” said Brian Waldman, vice president of Marketing and Strategy at Merchant Warehouse.
The first step is to attract prospective merchants – mainly small and medium sized businesses – to the site and convince them to either call or fill out a merchant services application form. Merchant Warehouse acquires about 60 percent of its traffic through Google AdWords and it’s up to Waldman and his team to create the landing pages, application form, and online experience that will turn those clicks into leads and revenue.
“That’s where Google Website Optimizer comes in,” says Brian. “Site copy, graphics, and page navigation all play a part in getting prospective customers to make the phone call or fill out the form. We knew we could improve our landing page performance by testing these elements.” Waldman’s team brainstormed with WiderFunnel Marketing, a Google Authorized Consultant company, and developed several hypotheses for sections of the site that may be underperforming and corresponding variations that would test those hypotheses.
|The current headline does not motivate the visitor to keep reading.||Use the headline to articulate a value proposition.|
|The application form is too long and may discourage to visitors.||Present only the first few questions and have visitors continue the form on the next page.|
|The text on the right hand side is hard to read, because it has blue text on a blue background.||Use darker fonts on a lighter background to increase the contrast and make the page easier to read.|
|Visitors need to be reassured that they are working with a reliable company that provides top-notch service.||Incorporate customer testimonials and/or credit card logos into the page.|
|The call-to-action/form submission button is small and is not visible without scrolling down.||Make the button larger and place it higher on the page.|
“It wasn’t a bad landing page to begin with, but our analysis showed quite a few hypotheses to test,” said Chris Goward of WiderFunnel, “This is just the first of many experiment rounds they could run.”
With the core hypotheses and test variations identified, the team then created different versions of the same page to test out each variation.
The original page has a headline that looks like a graphic, a form that may be too long, a small submit button that you have to scroll down to see, and no customer testimonials to reassure visitors that Merchant Warehouse is a reliable company.
WiderFunnel ultimately created three new pages to test alongside the current page. To determine which page drove the most leads both online and over the phone, each page included a unique phone number, so that when customers called the number, Merchant Warehouse knew which test page the customer had seen. To find out which hypotheses were correct, the test pages used different combinations of the possible solutions (see the earlier table).
For example, the test pages used a new test headline, while the original page continued to use the original headline. The original blue headline, “Apply now for a merchant account” didn’t really give visitors a reason to fill out the form. However, the new orange headline, “Don’t waste time: Get a Merchant Account in as little as 24 hours!” is more noticeable and provides visitors more motivation to complete the form.
Winning Page (Test Page B)
Test Page B uses a more noticeable headline, a shorter more manageable form, a larger button that is positioned higher on the page, darker text on the right-hand side, and reassuring customer testimonials (but no credit card logos).
Additionally, the test pages tried out variations of a shorter form, customer testimonials, credit card logos, a larger button, and dark text on a light background. Because Merchant Warehouse did not know which hypotheses were correct, they varied each page to find out which combinations worked the best.
Variation B was the overall winner, with a 14.9% improvement in conversion rate over the original page.
Once the experimental pages were launched, it only took a few weeks for Website Optimizer to identify the winner. “While all three test pages drove more conversions than the original page, both in terms of increased phone calls and completed forms, we were most excited to see that the top-performing variation resulted in a 15% increase in overall conversions.” Brian’s team discovered that customers liked Test Page B more than the any other page, including the original page
The winning page shortened the form by showing only the beginning of the form, along with a “Continue Application” button. The page also featured a strong value proposition in the headline and highlighted the three-step process to apply for a merchant account. Finally, the winning page included client testimonials and used darker font and a lighter background on the right-hand side of the page.
Brian explains that the increased conversions will mean an extra 100 accounts per month. “And, those customers generally stay with us because of our excellent service. So it means a lot to our bottom line.”
Now that a new conversion rate “high-water mark” has been established, Waldman’s team is excited to test more subtle variations to understand which individual elements affect phone calls and form fills the most.
Hal Gudmundsen, Waldman’s Internet Marketing Manager at Merchant Warehouse, has added Website Optimizer to his list of must-have tools. “Website Optimizer is really easy to use. I was able to sign into our account and very quickly figure out how to set up the experiment,” he says.
“Running the test was as much a proof of concept for the value of using Website Optimizer as it was a way to increase the number of leads we were getting,” said Brian. “Now that we’ve seen how easy it is to test, we’re going to be doing a lot more of it.”
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