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I’d Test That: How A/B Split Testing Can Bump Up Box Office Conversions for Fandango.com


Fandango is a pretty well known site for all things movies. You can check out trailers, read the latest cinema news and, of course, buy tickets. They’ve got fantastic traffic, with an average of 385,000 visitors per day. And though the site is doing some basic testing with Adobe® Test&TargetTM, we thought we could offer up some suggestions for moving the needle on conversions.

There’s a lot going on when you land on the Fandango homepage. In fact, that’s a whole test in itself; the amount of content. But we decided to go for a testing strategy that has a lot of legs—and it all revolves around the “Coming Soon” movies.

I subscribe to Fandango emails, so that means I get about one per week. When a film is about to be released and there’s a lot of buzz around it, I’ll usually get an email with an offer to buy advance tickets. This Hunger Games email is a perfect example:

Fandango does a great job at creating urgency here. They start with a line reminding you how close the opening day is. They really amp up the scarcity tactic with a “Don’t Get Sold Out!” line (which, grammatically, leaves a bit to be desired, but you get the gist). They use an iconic image from the movie. And they finish with a large, bold button and the enticing offer to BUY TICKETS IN ADVANCE.

For any film geek, this is a no-brainer. And if you click on the button to buy your tickets, you’re sent to a page built for this particular movie. But this is where the urgency ends, and in our minds, where the testing begins.

The “Coming Soon” page on the Fandango site holds all the upcoming releases, including dates, cast and a few links to see trailers and purchase tickets. But there’s no continuity of the urgency we saw in the email.

This is a great place for Fandango to capitalize on the consumer urge to “buy before it’s gone.” Here are a few testing ideas we came up with:

1. Give your call to action some substance. Instead of that small and passive “Showtimes + Tickets” link in blue, why not test a larger, orange button that mirrors the button used in the email? Maybe move it over to the right of the movie module so it really stands out. We’d use the “Buy tickets in advance” CTA, as we think it will get more clicks. That’s three quick tests right there.

2. Use scarcity to create conversion. As done in the email, inserting a line of copy at the top of the module like “Get your tickets before they sell out!” will increase the urgency at the point of purchase. Another effective tactic is using a line that seems to come directly from the theater, like “This showing is expected to sell out. Please reserve your tickets now.”

3. Make it easy to buy. When you click the blue “Showtimes + Tickets” link, you are prompted to enter your zip code and then given the theaters and times near you. But the button to purchase is buried on the left-hand side next to the times. We’d like to see how a larger button positioned on the right would do, using the aforementioned copy “Buy Advanced Tickets Now.”

4. Keep it consistent. There was a lot of hype built around Hunger Games, so the Fandango site was a reflection of that, featuring multiple ads, games, etc. This week, the hype is around the re-release of Titanic (in 3-D!), and again, it’s all over the site. However, I received no emails for advanced tickets, nor any that played on the excitement and urgency surrounding the film’s return to the big screen. If Fandango had started with a strong email like the one above, and kept that urgency throughout the purchase points on the site, we think they’d see a significant bump in conversions.

5. Align your channels. Fandango has three strong channels to drive ticket sales: email, the website and their mobile app. We realize that different departments with different goals most likely drive these channels. But the shared goal is conversions. So here’s an example of how breaking down internal silos can really make a difference in revenue. Take a look at the “Coming Soon” mobile screen on the left below, and compare it to the same page from the Fandango website.

The website leads with the film nearest to release, on April 5. The mobile app leads with a release that doesn’t come out for another five days. And the content is completely different—the films don’t match up. But the biggest issue? Again, no urgency. And, no way to purchase tickets from the mobile screen unless you click on the film. Adding that functionality is an opportunity for more revenue—and it’s testable.

The thing that’s in Fandango’s corner is that they have a seriously solid audience. People always want to see movies, and they obviously like the convenience of buying tickets online or with their mobile device. Movies also come with a built-in loyal fan base, depending upon the buzz built around each film. So playing on the urgency of potential sell-out and the desire to see it first is an easy way to boost conversions and revenue for Fandango. To create a cross-channel testing plan would be a really smart move for the company, and it would give them a wealth of learnings that could be used for continual conversion optimization.

Testing urgency for the “Coming Soon” visitors is an easy, quick way for Fandango to move the needle in the right direction. What about you? Where can you test urgency to increase conversions?