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travel iconOne of the most important components of a successful optimization program is velocity – the ability to build a test, run it, collect data, and put that data into action quickly. Velocity helps optimization programs gain traction and garner executive support. The faster you get up and running, and the faster you can build and execute tests, the faster you can start proving value with results. BONUS: It can also make a whole lotta cash money. Take Smarter Travel’s story, for instance.

Smarter Travel is a TripAdvisor company that owns and operates several leading online consumer travel brands, including BookingBuddy.com, AirfareWatchdog, and more. Travelers use Smarter Travel’s web properties to hunt for the best deals when planning upcoming trips.

I recently spoke with Tony Haenn, a Senior Product Manager at Smarter Travel, to get the scoop on their uber-successful optimization program. Tony put it simply: Speed wins. In fact, that’s even the motto of the company’s most important executive sponsor.

“There’s a sign on my door: Speed wins,” Stephen Kaufer, Founder and CEO of TripAdvisor said. “It’s the informal internal motto and was handwritten by me 10 years ago and as the office has moved so has the sign.”

The speed at which Tony was able to implement Optimizely as the testing solution, ramp up his team, then build and run tests has been hugely impactful in generating long-term gains and bookings, and increasing the company’s bottom line revenue. Today, the team runs an average of 30 testing campaigns per month.

“It’s awesome to use Optimizely because we’re able to move so fast,” Tony added. “If I had run these experiments through my dev queue it would have taken a month just to run the first test!”

For the remainder of this post, I want to focus on those first eight tests Tony’s team ran because these tests doubled revenue generated from one of Smarter Travel’s top web properties, BookingBuddy.com. So… yeah. Listen up.

Challenge: Low Conversions on a Critical Landing Page

Tony’s team noticed a problem with one of their most important pay per click landing pages, which serves as an entry point to BookingBuddy.com.

Original Smarter Travel Landing page

Original Smarter Travel pay per click landing page.

Once a visitor landed on that PPC landing page, the goal was for them to fill out a search form and enter into BookingBuddy.com’s booking funnel. User testing showed a high percentage of visitors landing on that page were not converting, and after the team dug in further using analytics, they noticed the problem was even more significant. Tony’s team decided to run a series of tests to increase conversions on the page.

Variation landing page for Smarter Travel

The variation of the Smarter Travel pay per click landing page.

The original landing page experience was stark. The team hypothesized that building a more visual look and feel would increase search conversions because it would attract more eyeballs and engage users more effectively. When it was all said and done, the team ran eight total tests on the landing page over the course of a month…

  • They tested 10 different headlines.
  • They tested adding partner logos to the page.
  • They also tested various background images, call-to-action button text, and form fields.

“There’s a lot of opportunity in testing,” Tony said. “Even with a simple page! We focused on key elements that we hypothesized would drive the most impact.”

Solution and Results: New, Heavily Tested Page Doubles Revenue

The results of their month of focus and iteration on the landing page made a tremendous impact on Smarter Travel’s bottom line revenue.

With a higher converting page and data to back them up, the team pushed for more budget to invest in display ads, sending traffic to the optimized BookingBuddy.com landing page. With more traffic hitting a better performing page, the impact this series of tests had on Smarter Travel’s bottom line revenue grew even further. Not only did they boost revenue from improved conversions on the landing page, they were also able to proportionately increase the amount of business driven through search. Overall, these changes resulted in doubled revenue per visitor from the BookingBuddy.com landing page.

Taking an iterative approach to testing, and being able to test and implement the optimized experience so quickly, helped Tony and his team reap enormous benefits and have a greater impact.

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