​ ​

Travel agency gets 48% more phone calls each day after conversion optimization A/B testing

48% lead generation conversion rate lift

Last updated: June 11, 2013

Business: B2B and Consumer Service
Sector: Travel Tourism
Optimized Conversion: Telephone and Online Lead Generation Inquiries
Test: A/B/n test on paid search landing page
Website: www.planetamex.com
Case study: Planetamex Case Study PDF

Learn how Cook – An American Express Travel Representative used conversion rate optimization to dramatically lift both phone calls to its agents and online form-fills on its paid search landing page.

The client: Cook – an American Express travel representative

Cook – An American Express Travel Representative – caters exclusively to international travelers, people in the top 2% of US & International households who enjoy flying First Class and Business Class. These high net-worth individuals and families are corporate travelers who do not want to overpay for international airline tickets.

Cook American Express Travel relies on the extensive resources and bulk buying power of American Express— with 1,700 offices worldwide and over $17 billion in purchasing. Cook American Express has access to a variety of fares not available to the public or most other travel agencies: upgrades, 2-for-1 fares, net fares, exclusive negotiated fares, consolidator fares, unpublished fares, etc.

Cook American Express drives significant web traffic to its home page and uses its website to generate both phone and online sales. In their experience, inbound phone calls represent travelers ready to purchase while online inquiries generally represent travelers who are not quite ready to book.

As a result, phone calls are significantly more valuable to Cook American Express than online form-fills.

The business need

The Cook American Express website represents a unique opportunity to drive business from two types of clearly defined online travelers:

  1. Immediate purchasers
  2. Potential purchasers (e.g., comparison shoppers, click for quote, etc.)

A double call-to-action, phone and online form-fill, gives Cook American Express the ability to drive the first group, immediate purchasers, to complete their transaction by phone and to fulfill on the second group’s need to shop around for the best price by driving them to click for quote.

The challenges

PlanetAmex.com receives thousands of web visitors per month and 91% of them are new visitors. This represents a perfect audience for a travel website that’s ready to deliver great prices for first class and business travel; there is lots of interest and many new customers.

However, these new web prospects on PlanetAmex.com weren’t spending enough time on the site for Cook American Express to make a favorable, persuasive impression – if not an immediate buy decision. With a very high bounce rate, the chances of converting these new, potential customers into sales, immediate or otherwise, evaporated into thin air.

What would Cook American Express need to do to persuade a greater percentage of people to stay, click and get a quote or call and book right away?

The solution

PlanetAmex control
Fig. 1: Original (Control) Landing Page

Cook American Express engaged WiderFunnel Marketing Optimization to improve its online conversion rate by testing new designs and new copy and content on their home page.

WiderFunnel, using its proprietary LIFT™ Analysis, first took a macro view of all of the company’s conversion funnels, evaluated their business goals and delivered a plan identifying prioritized Funnel Experiment opportunities.

WiderFunnel’s LIFT Analysis identified key areas of weakness on the PlanetAmex.com home page, shown in Figure 1.

When it comes to travel online, credibility is crucial. The current site had weak credibility due to the following factors: dated and hidden logos, outof-date award seals and value propositions that appeared well below the fold. Additionally, much of the imagery was irrelevant to the target audience and an overabundance of navigation buttons and calls to action added to the cacophony of choices of what to do next. Plus, options for the single most obvious market segment—the last minute traveler—seemed to be missing altogether.

Several hypotheses for how website changes might influence response and sales for both groups came to the fore. Each of the hypotheses were incorporated to create three redesigned challenger variation pages to be tested against the original “Control” page.

Variation 1: “Credibility”

This challenger had a redesigned banner heavily built around the credibility markers of the AMEX brand. The new headline was on its own without other distracting visuals pronouncing the core benefit of Cook American Express: Discount First Class & Business Class Airfare. Calls to action were doubled up and reinforced above and below the fold with the customer’s pain points addressed as benefit statements in bullet points. The calls to action were placed on the right hand side, with prominent airline logos for added credibility.

Variation 2: “Hero”

This test challenger included many of the same elements of the first test but reordered to depict the business or high-end traveler as the ‘hero’ at the top of the left hand side section, with the calls to action placed right underneath the photos.

Variation 3: “Offer”

This challenger page was very similar to “Hero” but the placement of the photo and the calls to action were reversed, now to the right hand side. This emphasized the theme of “offer first”. The up-front headline focused on Planet Amex’s core benefit followed by a ‘Save up to 60%’ subhead and then the ‘Why Book With Us’ bullet points.

The results: 48% lead generation conversion rate lift!

PlanetAmex winning variation
Fig. 2: Winning Test Page 48% uplift in conversions!

So which test Variation won? To almost everyone’s surprise, this test proved the old direct marketing adage of “The offer sells” wrong.

Variation 1, “Credibility” (see Figure 2) won with a conversion rate lift of 48.4% for phone call conversions.

Plus, when responses for phone calls and form-fills were combined, this variation still generated a 17% aggregate conversion rate lift. The company now receives more high quality leads from the landing page without cannibalization between response channels.

WiderFunnel provides full service Conversion Optimization including: strategy, web analytics, wireframing, copywriting, design and development. You get more leads and sales from the same website traffic.

Subscribe to receive experimentation insights straight to your inbox.