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Monday, Apr. 23, 2007 at 12:38 pm

The One Website Test You Probably Never Thought Of…

By Bryan Eisenberg
April 23rd, 2007

What do Future Now employees sit around the proverbial campfire and shoot the breeze about? Conversion optimization stories, among other things.

I told this one to some new people and they urged me to blog about it.

Several years ago, a GrokDotCom reader emailed me and asked me to do them a favor and look at their website. They were getting a reasonable amount of traffic but weren’t converting any into leads. As I looked at the website, I realized that, while they certainly could’ve done some things better, there was no real reason they shouldn’t be converting any traffic. That is, until I looked at their domain name carefully. It wasn’t a ‘.com’ (we all have a bias for them); it was a strange combinations of words and numbers.

I asked them if they would consider splurging for a new, longer domain name. So, instead of ‘’ they used something like ‘’ [names changed to protect the easily embarrassed]. Well, it worked. Whaddo ya know!?

Sometimes, especially if you’re not a recognized brand, having a very descriptive domain name can help. This might work for a specific campaign you have planned, even if you don’t have a terrible domain name now. Have you ever tried it?

Please let us know if you’ve ever tested something similar that nobody could have imagined would work. How did it end up? Were you successful?

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Comments (5)

  1. Great point, Bryan. I’ve played around with domain names myself and found that ones that directly to speak to what you do simply seem to perform better.

  2. Once while working for a very large online consumer loan acquirer, I ran a test which yielded counter-intuitive results. I added a page to the checkout process at the big front end of the funnel. The page asked simply why people wanted to get a loan today and how they intended to pay it back (all at once, monthly over time, when their tax return showed up, etc). There were drop down responses for both questions. Being the good A-B tester that I am, I sent 80% of our significant volume through the existing flow, 10% through a flow with question page A added near the front, and 10% through a flow with slightly different questions and text input boxes instead of drop downs, question page B, added near the front. The expectation was that the flow would hurt conversion, but that the bank might be able to use the information to discriminate loan losses better down the line, so the net NPV for the flow with increased information might be larger. Much to everyone’s surprise, question page A actually increased net conversion by about 8%! A big deal at the fat end of the funnel. Question page B decreased it nearly as much though, a 6% decrease. We immediately went into the usability lab and found out that users thought we were customizing our product offering based on the additional information they had provided, which we believe is what accounted for the increased conversion. We started running different versions of the question page and tried putting the questions in other places in the flow too to try to optimize them, and ended up with a nearly 10% increase in net conversion once optimized. Surprise! Although I still strive to make checkout flow as simple and streamlined as possible, sometime more is more and always testing in production will yield learning. Webgeek Paul

  3. I’m ready to change the domain of an existing, but still new site. How do you best do this? Just change it from one day to the next, or do you do a forward? Does it matter? The site gets a few hundred uniques a month; should I worry about losing them, because I’m sure switching the domain is very bad for SEO purposes, isn’t it?

    Thanks for your input :)

  4. I agree with you, domain name is an important thing for a website. If I want to build online store website, I used to choose domain name that has correlation with the stuff that I sell, but if I want to make personal blog, I prefer to choose my name or other name that seems easy to remember. So far it helps me from the SEO side.

  5. Long Tail Keywords have to be well researched before wasting your money on the name, but once you have your core all the traffic is yours for the taking with 0 competitors

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Bryan Eisenberg, founder of FutureNow, is a professional marketing speaker and the co-author of New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling books Call to Action and Waiting For Your Cat to Bark and Always Be Testing. You can friend him on Facebook or Twitter.

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