It took us 6 rounds of tests until we landed on a variation that was doing 79.3% better than the version our client had before coming to us.

Background

TruckersReport is a network of professional truck drivers, connected by a trucking industry forum. It’s a great community for drivers to share information and assist in each others’ careers. I guess it’s what you would call a niche site—but that niche is bringing TruckersReport over 1,000,000 visits each month (close to 5 million pageviews).

One of the services they provide to their community is helping truck drivers find better job opportunities. Truck drivers fill out a one-time online resume and then choose between offers from pre-screened trucking companies.

This was the landing page they had, our starting point:

trucker1

This landing page was converting at 12.1% (email opt-ins).

What followed after the initial landing page was a 4-step online resume building flow. The primary task at hand was to increase landing page conversions—to widen the funnel at the top—but also to increase overall funnel conversions.

Analysis

In addition to heuristic analysis, we analyzed the current page using Google Analytics, set up mouse tracking data collection (click data, scroll maps, attention heat maps) and started to record user session videos via SessionCam.

Next, we wanted to understand the audience better. We ran an online survey using Google Docs with the goal to get in the head of the truck drivers. Why were they looking for a new job? What matters the most about truck driving jobs, and what were the main motivators? What were their main hesitations and questions when considering a new job offer?

These were the top factors what we focused on:

  • Mobile visits (smartphones + tablets) formed about 50% of the total traffic. Truck drivers were using the site while on the road! –> Need responsive design
  • Weak headline, no benefit –> Need a better headline that includes a benefit, addresses main pain-points or wants
  • Cheesy stock photo, the good old handshake –> Need a better photo that people would relate to
  • Simple, but boring design that might just look too basic and amateur –> Improve the design to create better first impressions
  • Lack of proof, credibility –> Add some
  • Drivers wanted 3 things the most: better pay, more benefits and more home time. Other things in the list were better working hours, well-maintained equipment, respect from the employer. Many were jaded by empty promises and had negative associations with recruiters.

Armed with these insights, we proceeded.

New design

This was the new, fully responsive, design we created.

responsive

We didn’t want to change the layout dramatically. We wanted to better isolate user issues. Heat maps and user session replay videos showed that the previous layout worked well in terms of usability.

Why this layout:

  • Prominent headline that would be #1 in visual hierarchy
  • Explanatory paragraph right underneath to explain what the page is about
  • Large background images tend to work well as attention-grabbers
  • Warm, smiling people that look you in the eye also help with attention
  • Left side of the screen gets more attention, so we kept copy on the left
  • As per Gutenberg diagram, bottom right is the terminal area, so that explains the form and call to action placement.

In the process we also re-designed the funnel steps (also fully responsive).

Tests

Test #1

Hypothesis: Fewer form fields = less friction and hassle to fill out the form, resulting in more conversions.

test1

Results: The control beat the variation by 13.56%.

Insights: Although short forms usually outperform long forms, this did not apply here. More testing is needed to figure out why. Hypothesis: added fields give more credibility or add relevancy, a plain e-mail field can look “spammy”.

Test #2:

Hypothesis: Copy that addresses most common problems truck drivers are facing, using the the wording they actually use (taken from the customer survey) will resonate better with the audience.

We crafted a new headline + bullet points full of benefits and addressed other stuff that came up in the survey.

test2
Results: While there was no difference in landing page opt-ins, there was a 21.7% difference in the bottom of the funnel conversions—original won. People lured in by big promises were less motivated to go through the whole 5-step funnel.

Insights: Short, straight-to-the point language can work. Too many promises can look like a hype, or attract the wrong kind of people.

Test #3

In the first 2 tests, the average conversion rates had been similar to the original landing page. But since traffic is ever-changing, we decided to test the original landing page vs. the new landing page to make sure the design was enhancing the site.

In addition, we wanted to test the absence of a “job match” page. By default people who completed the opt-in, landed on this page, which had some animation on it that made people feel progress in the background:

jobmatch

The idea behind having this page was to help boost bottom of the funnel conversions. Google Anaytics showed us that there was a 10.8% drop-off rate on this page. So we wanted to test whether losing those people would have a negative impact.

Results: Variation #1 (new landing page) resulted in 21.7% more opt-ins than the control at 99.7% confidence level, and 24% more signups from the whole funnel. “Job match” page did not help improve bottom of the funnel conversions, so we decided to remove it.

Test #4

We wanted to test more headlines.

Contestants:

  • Original: “Get a truck driving job with better pay”. Straightforward.
  • Question: “Looking for a truck driving job with better pay?” The idea here is the notion that people always answer questions in their mind when they read a question.
  • 3 main benefits: “Better Pay. More Benefits. Respect for drivers.” These benefits came from the survey as the 3 most important priorities to the audience.
  • But you are free: “You can get a driving job with better pay. But, of course, you are free to choose.” The psychological phenomenon of “autonomy” is at play here and is widely researched to increase persuasiveness.

Results: Control outperformed all the variations. The original headline won the second best variation—”You are free to choose”—by 16.2%.

Insight: A simple, straightforward approach works best for this audience. So the question is—how can we use this insight to make the page even simpler?

Test #5

Building on the “simple” insight from the previous test, we created a shorter, simpler version of the page:

testx

Results: Variation #1 with a shorter page layout and less copy outperformed the control and resulted in 21.5% more opt-ins at a 99.6% confidence level.

Insight: Learnings from previous tests proved to be right—shorter layout and less copy resulted in more opt-ins. How can we now make it even simpler?

Test #6

We had many different hypotheses on how to simplify the page even more.

  • New design that’s built from the get go for a more compact layout. Better content presentation typically helps.
  • Remove all fields but the email field (the only mandatory field). Less fields typically helps.
  • Get rid of the name field and make the email field the last one. The idea here is for people to start with easy fields (dropdowns), its easier to get going, and by the time they reach the hard field—email—the user is thinking “oh well I already started” (a known psychological phenomenon called “commitment and consistency” by Cialdini), so we’d be riding on momentum.

test6

Results: Variation #3 with no name field and email as the last field resulted in 44.7% more opt-ins at a 99.9% confidence level.

opt

We achieved a 21.7% conversion rate (the margin of error was 1.48% but no overlap with the ranges of other variations occurred) which is  79.3% is better than the initial landing page we started to work on.

Conclusion: Testing is an iterative process

When you start testing a page, don’t test just once and move on to testing other parts of the site. Don’t think of the process as one-off tests, but as testing campaigns.

Learn from each test, make sure you send test data to Google Analytics and segment the results (I didn’t go into details with this here), and keep iterating. Use insights from previous tests to drive upcoming tests. You won’t know what matters until you test it. Have a lot of patience.

If we had only tested the control vs. the new landing page we wouldn’t have reached 79.3%—and we’re just getting started.