June 15, 2012 | Posted By: Colleen Cassidy

The most visited area of your website is very likely your homepage. Here’s how to get more referrals generated from your most valuable piece of real estate.

First, you can create far more user engagement with eye-catching banners and well-designed widgets than you can with inflexible and generic share chicklets and buttons (as we’ll show you in a second). As a sophisticated marketer, you want the same control and flexibility for your social sharing campaigns as you do for any other channel in your marketing aresenal (email, display, SEM, etc.)

Let’s examine a campaign by Coastal Contacts for homepage sharing of a timely promotion that took advantage of slick banners instead of basic buttons, and well-designed share widgets instead of generic pop up windows.

Coastal Contacts wanted visitors to spread the word about an amazing offer called “First Pair Free.” They started by placing a custom share banner (served by Friendbuy) on their homepage.

To test the impact of banner placement, they ran multiple campaigns to A/B test different positions of the share banner.

Key Takeaway:  A/B test the placement of your share banners to increase engagement.

To further optimize, Coastal ran multiple creative variations and served them concurrently via the Friendbuy platform, measuring initial engagement (clicks), completed shares, referral traffic, all the way through to sales conversions.

Here’s a look at the Coastal.com banners that were A/B tested over a busy weekend.

Coastal Share Buttons

Within the first few hours on a Saturday morning, Coastal was able to see – via their Friendbuy dashboard – that the silver banner produced twice as much engagment (clicks) as the other variations.  Picking the silver ‘winner,’ here’s how it looks on their site today.

Coastal Share Winner

Takeaway:  A/B test different designs of your share banners to increase engagement. Try different colors, fonts, messaging, etc,

The next step for this campaign was to optimize the Shared Content – this refers to the copy and imagery that are published into social newsfeeds alongside a user’s personal message (this content is also published into email shares).  You can significantly impact the amount of referral traffic to your site by optimizing the shared content, a strategy Friendbuy refers to as Newsfeed Optimization.

You can see the shared content in the widget below under the heading “Preview.”

Coastal Share Widget

A/B testing each component under the “Preview” title, Coastal ran multiple variations of the shared image, the Title and the description text. A/B tests were conclusive – strong imagery and catchy titles generated far more clicks than generic equivalents.

Key Takeaway: Newsfeed Optimization of shared content will maximize referral traffic to your site. You earned those shares, don’t let them fall flat.

By populating their share widget with well-designed imagery, relevant content (and cheeky!), and by targeting campaigns specifically to the First Pair Free promotion, Coastal quadrupled their sharing rate and doubled the referral traffic.

Key Takeaway: your customers are more than happy to share an amazing deal when they see it. You just have to ask the right way.

Friendbuy makes it easy to build social sharing campaigns for any area of you website and A/B test campaign elements for maximum ROI. Be sure to try a homepage banner to take advantage of the most trafficked area of your site – your front door.

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