Thanks to the informational heavy handedness of 1.0 design we have the opportunity at OTTO Digital to employ our Radical Simplicity™ methodology quite frequently to improve the performance of pages and enhance brand value. The way it works, simply, is to segment users and then strip the page to a single consideration and call to action targeted to the primary goals of the segment. After understanding Skype UK’s goals of acquiring new users and thinking about the goal of their target segment, new visitors, we embarked to radically simplify their homepage.
Skype’s key homepage success metric is measured in new visitors downloading the application. Like many sites Skype was concerned with providing enough information and benefits messaging to help persuade users to take action. Our hypothesis was that due to the viral and word-of-mouth nature of Skype the majority of users likely already had determined that they wanted to download prior to landing on the page. We decided to radically simplify the page by removing all elements except these five:
• Brand Logo
• Global Navigation
• Call to Action
• Branded Benefit Imagery
The core thinking of this strategy was two fold.
1. Make it as easy as possible to download Skype based on our hypothesis that most first time visitors were already predetermined to download.
2. Remove consideration messages and a detailed product image to force users still in consideration to download the free application to find out more about Skype.
In both instances, the goals of the users and the business were being met.
In the creation of a sound test design we also designed and developed two pages.The simple page and a page that was blend of messaging and simplification. This gave us an A/B/C test. As we designed these new homepages we remained very conscious of the Skype brand and leveraged the branding elements in the creative to draw user focus to the call to action.
The simple page (Page C) proved to be the winner with an almost 5% increase in downloads. The blended page also beat their existing homepage with an almost 2% increase in downloads. For me, the implications of these results and much of what we see with Radical Simplicity are interesting when taken in a broader context.
How much emphasis should you place on copy trying to persuade someone to do something that they don’t intend on doing? Are you actually hurting your performance by using persuasion as a strategy? Why concentrate online advertising efforts getting people to do something they are not sure about rather than focusing most everything on the users that already know what they want and are ready to give you something for it in return? Do you assume these users will purchase from you anyway?
Without question persuasion digitally is infinitely harder than discovering user goals and then making sure users understand that your page allows them to simply achieve their goals. (That’s why they have a digital persuasion lab at Stanford). Part of the problem many marketers and advertisers have is that they take the persuasive approach with their copy. With the marketing technologies we now have at our disposal, namely search and targeting (and re-targeting) both on-site and in ads, textually or image messaging to persuade at times seems antiquated.
But hold on a second. Didn’t we actually use a persuasive technique for users that were in consideration stage (#2 of our core strategy above)? Isn’t forcing users to make a decision a persuasive strategy? Of course it is. These are the effective persuasive strategies and they have nothing to do with copy or text (except maybe removing it).
However, most of the time great digital marketing is about aligning messaging with the goals and intention of users. Those goals are present many times before the user sits down at their computer. If they are not, it is likely they are present before they see your ad, homepage or landing page. They can vary but there is consistency in the way users go about achieving them that allows us to create segments. Once we have segments we can effectively target our content and messaging and ensure users take action by making it as simple as possible. Now does that sound radical to you?