In the interest of research and development, ion’s marketing team pushes some major boundaries in terms of online advertising and marketing optimization. We push and push on everything we do. And while the majority of our website is served up using a basic content management system (Squarespace, for those of you who care), other parts are not.

Making the parts that matter, better through testing.

All of ioninteractive.com’s touchpoints are tested and optimized using a specialized platform that maximizes conversion. Using basic iframes, our forms and larger sections of pages are pulled into our website’s pages. This gives us the advantage of using the website’s CMS for what it’s best at — content management, and using our own LiveBall platform for what it’s best at — conversion optimization.

When you see a contact form in the right rail, in the footer, or on the ‘contact us’ page — that’s LiveBall. When you see the ‘contact us’ mini form in the header of every page — that’s LiveBall too. And, when you come to our home page, everything below the header and above the footer is also coming from LiveBall.

For users, this all comes together seamlessly within our ioninteractive.com domain — with LiveBall living at paths.ioninteractive.com and our site living at www.ioninteractive.com.

A/B and Multivariate (MVT) Home Page Testing

The ioninteractive.com home page is on its ninth version since February. Within the ‘page’, we actually push an entire conversion path of around 25 pages — all within the main page’s iframe. We’re testing using both A/B and multivariate methods — so we’re testing one user experience against another AND we’re testing variations of headlines and subheads within each alternative.

Reducing bounce rate and increasing conversion rate.

We have two metrics-based objectives in testing our home page: reduce bounce (increase engagement) and increase conversion. A conversion for ion is a lead — submitted form.

Reducing the bounce rate comes from adjustments in messaging and presentation. We’ve tested over 40 different headlines, a number of subheads, variations of imagery and differences in the right rail and we’ve been able to make good progress — getting more people to engage with our message.

Increasing conversion rate comes from targeting fulfillment to messaging and using copy and imagery to make people want to take the bait. By making our fulfillment more specific and our presentation more compelling, we’ve improved our conversion metrics. We’re also constantly testing form variations — number of fields, field labels, form presentation, calls-to-action, etc. Everything contributes to constant improvement.

Improve learning.

Beyond the hard metrics of bounce and conversion, lie the soft gains of understanding your target and their language. We’ve quickly learned which specific words resonate with our target and which ones don’t. We’ve learned which customer logos are most compelling and which ones aren’t. We’ve learned which solutions are most popular and which ones aren’t. And we’ve learned which solutions drive the most conversions, the most business and the highest revenue.

We know all of this because we choose to use the best tool for the job. This, to me, is website testing circa 2011. Instead of using javascript to pump combinations of stuff into pages, we make real, useful micro experiences that engage their target and provide us with quality learning. And instead of forcing a CMS to jump through hoops it was never meant to deal with, we leave it to do the things it does best — like publishing this blog post.