When I was 9 years old my family received a large direct mail piece that kicked off a 20+ year obsession with collecting media. That envelope was from Columbia House and it contained sheets of lick-able stamps each containing the hot albums of 1984. I spent hours choosing the 8 albums I could get for free (shipping charges applied) and awaited patiently for them to arrive in the mail. That box contained classics like Michael Jackson’s Thriller, and Lionel Richie’s Can’t Slow Down. It had James Taylor, Hall & Oats, and Kool and the Gang.
That was a time when someone could jumpstart a music collection with one postage-paid return envelope. These days you can access any recorded song for free online. You can watch most movies streaming on your computer and most importantly, when you sign up for Columbia House you can choose your DVD selections instantly online.
This week, the conversion experts at Brooks Bell decided to audit the Columbia House signup page. We identified some awesome things about this page and some great areas of improvement.
The Sidebar: This page is all about the excitement of choosing your DVDs! While it isn’t tearing out stamps and affixing them to an order form, the sidebar clearly illustrates the 3 DVDs you get for $1 each with a nice upsell to make your first club purchase at a reduced rate. Finally, it keeps a running tally of the total savings further reinforcing the cost benefit. After making a selection, the page design stays the same promoting a clear momentum to finish the signup process. I would love to see the data on how many people drop off the process after making their first 3 selections.
The Taxonomy: Columbia House does a great job with their taxonomy by highlighting bestsellers, top picks, newly available titles, and “DVDs A-Z.” This is effective because it addresses many of the common concerns a new subscriber may have. “Does Columbia House have new titles?” “Is the selection large enough?” “Do people actually do this?” All of these questions are answered by the naming of the categories.
The Process Explained: How long does this process take? Based on the graphic on this page, it’s as easy as 3 steps. This tactic is important to stress the ease of the application process. We like this one in particular because the first step is choosing your DVDs! While, no doubt, some potential subscribers drop off before their contact info can be captured, we would bet the conversion rate supports getting a prospect emotionally committed before asking for particulars.
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT
Main Image/Animation: We feel the main image here misses the mark. While the animation certainly catches the eye, we were confused by the “Lights. Camera. Action!” headline. A reference to Hollywood certainly reinforces the product relation to movies, a headline that leads with the offer would be more effective with conversion. And the simple fact that the offer is for DVDs we feel the Hollywood concept is implied.
Based on the ad copy headline, the page I land on after I click on the ad should be headlined with ’3 DVDs for $3 total’ or ’3 DVDs for $1 each’ and not the disco tech ‘Lights. Camera. Action.’ What does that have anything to do with getting the DVDs for cheap? – Naoshi Yamauchi, Director of Analytics
Logo Lockup Copy: In a clear attempt to compare themselves to Netflix we feel the line, “We don’t make you pay for streaming to get your DVDs,” misses the mark. While you certainly can watch movies from physical DVD media as well as through Netflix, the core difference of own versus borrow makes this line irrelevant.
How the Club Works Button: The “Here’s How it Works” page is very effective in convincing a prospect to subscribe. But we aren’t sure enough people will see the page thanks to the visibility of this button. We recommend drawing attention to this button by placing it above the left sidebar or maybe even in the main header image spot.
Although it would be unreasonable to put the entire explanation of how the club works on the home page of the site, a sentence or two about what Columbia House is and does would be extremely helpful. This could perhaps be better accomplished with a landing page, instead of directing the ad to columbiahouse.com. – Jenni Bruckman, Client Manager
While times have changed since I made my first Columbia House order I think the excitement of joining is still the same. It would be fascinating to see some of this data to see what a profitable subscriber looks like. What are their motivations? Do they tend to order movies for themselves or for their families? Where do they drop off? How would you make improvements to this signup page?