I was recently browsing the internet and came across a video posted by Ahrefs CMO Tim Soulo in his Saas Marketing Vblog. This video episode caught my attention because the title was “How We Spend $ 33,115 to Hire Three Copywriters to Revise Our Home Page Copy.”
I was interested in hearing about his experience because I follow his blog and we both have similar backgrounds. If you are unfamiliar with Ahrefs, they are one of the premier platforms for SEO detection and analysis. WDB is also an Ahrefs customer and we use their tool, among other things, to help our customers increase their website traffic.
I wanted to understand the reasons the team chose this project and the circumstances under which three different agencies tried to rebuild their homepage.
This is essentially a perfect and unique case study that describes the customer experience working with multiple agencies to improve the user experience.
Well what can I say this was an eye opening episode. Tim first described the reasons why this was the right time to update their homepage. The site has been around for a while, mostly unchanged. The Ahrefs team realized that it was just overgrown. The company has moved on and is more than just a tool to drive search traffic. They also wanted something trendy.
As Tim said, three heads are better than one. They decided to bring in three independent agencies to help them design the content and layout.
After a few weeks of customer interviews and market research, the three agencies submitted three drastically different concepts for their homepage. Each agency took a completely different approach to redesigning their homepage.
When you can change the way the company is perceived. Try it.
Similar to others, I came across Ahrefs many years ago researching backlinks. You became an authority in the field, and your tool was one of the few that could provide this data. Of course, most tools can do this good job right now.
Some of the agencies who were familiar with the history of ahrefs recommended that the backlinks function be permanently presented on the homepage. Ahref’s team wasn’t convinced, however. One of what they learned from this experience was that while Ahrefs was famous for its backlinks discovery feature, it wasn’t the only feature they offered. Their approach was to change the perception of the company and in that sense they went further.
Not a single right way to create a homepage
What happened next was really surprising to me. Each agency assured that they found a way to tie the copy to the design using colors, fonts, spacing, images, etc. This happened until Tim sent the models to their in-house designer, who hacked and selected the elements he liked from these three designs and creates a fourth variant.
A / B tests in parallel or not?
The Ahrefs team isn’t a huge fan of A / B testing. I see, and there might be a good reason. To prove the home page’s worth, they need to do A / B testing for 6 months or more to record a customer LTV (lifetime value) according to Tim.
I would respectfully disagree if I may on this point. I believe parallel A / B testing would provide a lot of value and understanding of how users interact with the page. Where do you click? What is more important to you on the page? How long do you stay on the site? All of these are very important data points that may not reveal the customer’s LTV but would provide a tremendous learning experience. More importantly, the Ahrefs team can react to these results and optimize the homepage.
So what can we learn from this experience?
Personally, I think we can learn a lot. It looks like selecting multiple agencies actually had its advantages. The experience and input from three different agencies helped shape the final homepage. However, the Ahrefs team relied on their in-house resource closest to the product to guide them and create the final design.
What does that mean for you as a customer? What metrics should you use to choose the agency that will meet your vision and help you succeed?
Of course, the agency must understand your industry and have extensive experience working with companies of your size. Have the human capital and the professional team. But I also believe the answer to that depends heavily on your initial feel for the agency partner and how you connect with them.
So, time to sum this up …
The more agencies you bring on board, the more diverse the results you would get, as there is no company or person who think alike. However, this does not guarantee success.
Try to change the perception of the company if your product or solution has changed over time.
The collaboration between copy / marketing and design is very important. They cannot compete with each other, they are best allies.
A / B testing may not show the LTV, but it does give you a lot of other important metrics that you can use to optimize your homepage or landing page.
Choose the agency that has all the necessary elements, but also rely on your gut feeling and how you will connect with the team that will be working with you.
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