Case Study: How New Home Builders Can Benefit By Testing Their Websites Marketing Message

If you're a new home builder and are struggling to get leads online, read this, absorb it, share it, discuss it and then DO IT.

Most builders I know invest a huge amount of time in preparation for the launch of their website. Then once it's launched, they ignore it.

It's a common mistake to think after all the preparation, launching the website means you've finally reached the finish line.

NEWS FLASH: You're at the starting line.

Now is when you separate the posers from the players and if you're serious about winning leads online as a new home builder, you'll pay attention to what I'm sharing today. Marketing home builders is unique, because there's no other industry quite like it.

I will warn you though, this isn't easy. This isn't a walk in the park. If it was, everyone would be doing it – but I doubt even 5% of builders are doing this.

The 5% that are, are killing it and making the rest look the fool. The 95% are wondering what the heck is happening and how are the 5% doing it?

Here's how.

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half.” – John Wanamaker

There's an important lesson here for all of us: We don't know everything. No matter how good you are as a marketer, you simply can't know everything. What works in one situation, doesn't always work in another. An ad for one building company could be a roaring success, but for another you'll hear nothing but crickets. So what can we do about that?

The challenge: To know more tomorrow than you do today. If you could have insight into what IS working vs what ISN'T working, that would be helpful right? This is the challenge of any business – what works and what gives us the results we desire. Then tomorrow, that same question… and so on.

This is what I call the cycle of discovery and improvement and is particularly helpful with digital marketing.

There are three areas of effect in digital – Audience, Outreach and Experience.

All three areas can be tested to improve what you're doing today, tomorrow and into the future.

Today, I'd like to share an example of the cycle of discovery and improvement in relation to the last area of effect: Experience.

User experience on landing pages

Here's a long form landing page design that was created back in 2011 for my first business. I'm going to break the idea of this down first, then show you how I improved this landing page and went from 2 leads a month to 60 leads a month using only online marketing strategies and tactics.

YBB original landing

This was my initial draft of a landing page that was put together to drive leads for my business.

You'll notice the page is broken into ‘buckets' numbered from 1 to 15. The idea was that these buckets would allow me to test different elements of the page to see what buckets customers were most interested in.

I did this in two ways;

  1. I used Crazyegg to produce a scrollmap on the page so I could see what areas people were stopping on for the longest time to read.
  2. I measured the number of conversions that came from filling out the form or calling us from the phone number.

What are the buckets?

What buckets I tested and why

  1. Clear header with no navigation points so customers were 100% focused on this page
  2. Headline with sub-headline to test different advantages
  3. Explanation of what my business did, with an immediate call to action. The reason I included this here was because most people had never heard of a Building Broker before.
  4. Benefit driven advantages for the customer with visual display (proof element)
  5. A minor call to action to spread the word socially
  6. Short explanation of what we do and what is included in our service
  7. Another version of social proof, why people choose us
  8. Using YBB vs a Builder
  9. Using YBB vs an Architect
  10. Handling a possible objection to not use our service
  11. Peace of mind for the customer that our values are aligned
  12. Client testimonials
  13. Logical pricing statement and logical benefit calculation
  14. Price list for services
  15. Summary call to action

ScrollmapHow to use a scrollmap

If you haven't heard of a scrollmap before, it's a way that you can visually see how people scroll down your web page and what areas they stop on.

The white and yellow areas are most viewed. Then red, green, blue and black in that order.

You can see a small snapshot of the scrollmap on the right hand side for this landing page.

This scrollmap allowed me to identify some areas that were definitely worth testing with/without that element.

To my surprise, one area that was the least read was bucket 12) Client Testimonials. But most people skimmed over that content area as can be seen in the scrollmap.

If I asked other digital marketers before testing, many would NEVER consider this area as an optional piece of content.

After extensive testing, different buckets were either modified or removed. It would be impossible to determine the effectiveness of these buckets without a scrollmap.

However, if we took the original quote of this article;

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half.”

Thanks to a scrollmap I can identify two or three buckets that I could drop with no negative impact. Again, consider the focus of this is ‘discovery and improvement'. The idea behind the ‘Experience' improvement is for the user, which ultimately results in better business for us.

Version two

Split testing plays a vital role in working out what works and what doesn't.

After creating multiple versions of this page, it was time to drop elements that weren't working and also work on improving the copy.

Bucket number two was tested rigorously. Headlines are very important and can be the difference between a potential customer reading further or leaving immediately.

Each revised split test would include another scrollmap to see how changes affected user behaviour.

Some split tests were borderline with the scrollmap, however the email conversions would declare an obvious winner and that helped eliminate some buckets where the scrollmap couldn't identify a difference.

Over time, the content that mattered stayed and the content that didn't make a positive difference was dropped.

Once we started dealing with a small number of buckets – we stopped using the scroll map as there wasn't an obvious difference. Instead, we then rely on the call and email conversions from each version to declare a winner. Once you have a clear winner on a page, keep testing different content in those buckets in an attempt to beat the winner (or control as it's commonly referred to).

Here's a simplified version of the process, moving from;

  1. A long form page with a lot of buckets
  2. To a scroll map audit
  3. Then a revised shorter form page with some buckets removed
  4. And finally the layout that wins where you can now iterate on the content and test individual buckets one at a time.

Split test and scroll map process

Integrating into the website

Finding a statistical winner for your landing page is a triumph, but it doesn't end there. Remember, this is an ongoing race. You're not at the starting line any more, you're in the race and this race is a marathon.

Once the winning variation is discovered, it's time to use those same lessons across your whole website. Otherwise, what's the point?

Many businesses who focus on SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) try to generate sales through standard web pages. So the goal is to make every page across your website a possible lead generation machine.

For example: When you test a landing page and find a winning headline, copy that headline on other pages of your website where relevant.

If there is significant copy that is always read on landing pages (discovered using a scrollmap) then include that copy on other pages on your website.

This is the essence of discovery and improvement behind digital marketing.

The result:

YBB landing revised

As you can see, this is now a standard page on the website.

This page has only 5 buckets, and each bucket has been tested and modified from the original concept.

This page had over 30 different iterations before ending up in this format and it was extensively tested and improved over time. Each month saw improvement in the number of leads, which validated that I was on the right path.

It's important with every split test that you get a large enough amount of data to ensure your findings are sound. This is what we call statistical significance.

The results of all this testing? A 3000% increase in leads from 2 a month to 60.

Was it worth it?


What you can do next

If you're wondering how to apply this to your business, I would recommend you follow this as a guide;

  1. Stop worrying about how great your website looks and start working out how your website can generate leads. That means kissing goodbye to fancy parallax scrolling and spinning widgets, annoying sliders and the like.
  2. Consider using buckets of content. Break down your content into buckets so you can test what buckets matter to your customer, and what doesn't.
  3. Test headlines like crazy. You have 6 seconds to make a good impression, if you don't your visitors will leave. Work your headlines first and foremost.
  4. Send visitors to dedicated landing pages with no other navigation options so you can run a strict test on the page. We use and recommend both LeadPages and Unbounce.
  5. Use a heatmap and scrollmap on all of your long-form landing pages. We use and recommend both Crazyegg and Hotjar. The insights using either of these tools are invaluable.
  6. For your primary products and services, start with long form copy and eliminate content as you go. This will give you an opportunity to measure what really matters in the eyes of your customer.

It is possible for every business to know what works and what doesn't.

If John Wanamaker were alive today, he'd say “Half the money I spend on advertising; the other half is on discovery and improvement”.

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If the information in this blog post informed you, and you'd like to implement a strategy that works for your business, then contact us to chat today.