In order to get those responses – either conversions or click-throughs – Liftopia uses tools from Optimizely to carefully calibrate its site based on what it predicts incoming visitors expect. Liftopia knows that visitors from different entry points have different goals.
“There’s nuance from source to source – whether it’s email, SEM or CPC programs and display – between how much information we show [on the site] or don’t,” Schneidermann said. “Which is why we test on a per source basis.”
Visitors that come through email, for instance, are likely familiar with the company – which is why Liftopia strips out any distracting up-sell or cross-sell elements and pushes these individuals into an expedited buying cycle. First-time visitors, by contrast, will likely receive information about a broader range of resorts, in an effort to keep them on the page longer.
Direct visits and organic search together account for 50% of Liftopia’s total traffic. It has 250,000 subscribers on its email list, another significant source of traffic. And Liftopia also maintains CPC partnerships with different media companies, independent bloggers and ski condition news sites.
One such partner is OnTheSnow, which aggregates snow and weather conditions from around the world. Liftopia runs direct-response campaigns (mostly advertisements to purchase lift tickets, since OnTheSnow doesn’t have ticket inventory) on this partner and, in return, receives a significant amount of traffic. The problem is that visitors from OnTheSnow have different expectations compared with visitors coming in through organic search.
“We’d noticed there were some pretty substantial bounce rates for people who were referred from OnTheSnow,” said Dave Nuffer, Liftopia’s product manager. “Our assumption was that people were clicking on those links thinking they could actually buy tickets on OnTheSnow, but they get sent to a third-party site they’d never heard of. So we tried to take some of the colors and themes from OnTheSnow to make the transition easier.” It was a correction, Nuffer said, that “substantially” dropped bounce rates.
Liftopia’s strategies around site optimization underscore a marketing trend that in recent months has emerged among businesses: the tightening of the formerly-disparate disciplines of content, commerce and advertising. One ability the company now has since it began using Optimizely’s tools is around optimizing actual conversions instead of simple CTRs.
It’s one thing to get new visitors, another to get them to stay and still another to convert them.
The focus is on reducing bounce rates, Schneidermann said. “The hypothesis being if we can reduce bounce rates, therefore less people are leaving the site, therefore more people will buy,” he explained. “Let’s take that a step further: Let’s say we reduce bounce rates. Are there different signals on the site that can improve conversion rates as well?”