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Netflix Bombs at the (Search) Box Office

Posted By Ronald Patiro On September 20, 2007 @ 5:04 pm In A/B Testing,Articles,Improving Conversion,Usability | 11 Comments

Netflix must already love me enough for paying each month and not mailing back my movies, but I’ve decided to help them in a potentially much bigger way. Recently, we noticed there’s some Giant Peach-sized “low-hanging fruit” to harvest on their homepage [1]* — and it could be worth millions.

If only they’d do a bit of testing…

Click me to view Netflix [2]The first problem appears with what seems to be a search bar near their top navigation. This is actually a Coupon Code box.

I’d like to know how many people use this box to search for movies, then violently click the “Back” button once they realize it’s a coupon box. From that number, it’s reasonable to assume that a portion of those searchers are going to a search engine and typing in movie rental coupons — and possibly being wooed to other sites like Blockbuster, where they might stay a customer for years. The lifetime value of this test cannot be taken for granted.

For my first would-be test, the coupon box would be replaced with a movie search box. This is a huge opportunity to let first-time visitor feel the power of searching through some 85,000 DVD’s. This is their unique value proposition; they have just about every DVD imaginable. The coupon box would then be moved below the fold (read: you’d have to scroll down to see it). That way, people who didn’t have a coupon would be less distracted by the possibility of not getting the best deal. Meanwhile, the visitors who do have a coupon would be compelled to find it below the fold.

Click me for Netflix view [3]Next, I would test the content just below the navigation; what we call the “active window” (example [4]). The active window should invite the visitor to imagine themselves as an empowered member of the Netflix community. By not conveying this feeling, Netflix ignores its main benefit: their mind boggling selection of DVD’s and the spot-on relevance of Netflix-recommended movies.

Their rating system is in a league of its own. By segmenting reviews to show what people similar to you had to say about a movie, they give you trusted recommendations and opinions about each selection.

For a third test, Netflix could benefit by changing two words on this page. The “Start Now” Call to Action would be far more persuasive if it included a benefit. The cold, uninspired command to “Start Now” sounds much better when you say something like “Try it out for free”.

Finally, Netflix should test using language to attract busy people like myself; those who rarely watch-and-return the movies they rent. We save them tons of money on postage. ;)

*Please Note: The screenshots pictured here show the homepage as seen by Netflix members. Non-members see a sign-up form instead.

Article printed from Conversion Rate Optimization & Marketing Blog | FutureNow: http://www.grokdotcom.com

URL to article: http://www.grokdotcom.com/2007/09/20/netflix-bombs-at-the-box-office/

URLs in this post:

[1] homepage: http://www.netflix.com

[2] Image: http://www.grokdotcom.com/wp-content/uploads/netflixsearchcouponbox.jpg

[3] Image: http://www.grokdotcom.com/wp-content/uploads/Ron/netflixmorebenefitsplease.jpg

[4] example: http://www.grokdotcom.com/2007/08/03/screencast-webanalysts-conversion-challenge-part-1/

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