KickoffLabs Blog:

Best Practices for Testing Your Landing Pages

By Josh Ledgard

Nov 15th, 2012

The following is a great guest post from Hagi Erez. He’s the founder of Pluralis. I personally think it’s a great idea because so many of us get writers block trying to figure out what we should be A/B testing.  This post should inspire you to come up with some great tests…

It is tempting to think having a website with all of your information displayed will be enough to entice the user to fill out a form or pick up the phone, but this isn’t always the case. This is the place where a landing page is required. Creating a great landing page is a critical step in the conversion funnel. By viewing the page as a speed bump in the conversion process rather than an information dump, you’ll find users will be inclined to move onto the next step.

In addition, you’ll be able to attach ROI measurements to your various marketing campaigns. As you test and refine your campaigns, this insight into their net values will enable you to become more efficient and effective at driving down costs per acquired customer. So how are you tracking and measuring the performance of your landing pages? There are new methods of A/B testing that can make this tracking easy.

What is A/B Testing?

A/B testing is one of the easiest ways to increase conversion rates and learn more about your audience. It allows businesses to test different messages and designs of a webpage to see whether or not it is more effective than the current page. The testing should be random to ensure that a wide range of users get either page “A” or page “B”.

A/B testing also referred to as split testing, starts with a hypothesis of the types of content changes that could impact your conversion rates. For example: Will a download button result in more downloads than a download link? The different web page content, or variants, is configured for a test and traffic is split between the versions. The test results indicate the conversion rate of one version over another and are monitored until a statistically sufficient number of visitors have been included in the test.

There are a variety of tools out there for conducting and monitoring A/B tests. There are two basic types, and some tools provide both: you need a tool that will randomly deliver one version of your page or the other to your visitors. The other tool you need is something to monitor the results for each page (which also keeps track of which page the visitor was shown).

Things You Want to Test

Optimizing the copy on your website is at least as important as optimizing the design, especially if the primary goal of that site is to convert visitors. A pretty design can only get you so far. If you really want to gain new customers, you need to optimize the text on your site to instill trust in visitors and make them want to purchase from you.

There are a ton of things you can test on your site to see what’s most effective. Besides design elements, there are things like headings, calls-to-action, and your specific offers. Proper testing of these things can triple or even quadruple your conversion rates!

Here’s a brief list of the web copy elements on your site you might test:

  1. Headline: The headline is what grabs your reader’s attention and gets them to keep reading. Test different wording, as well as different text sizes here, to get the best results.
  2. Call to Action Text: The exact wording of your call to action can have a surprising impact on your conversion rate. 37signals has done extensive testing of their call to action text, and finally found a phrase that delivered 300% more signups than other versions.
  3. Call to Action Position: Where you place your call to action can have a huge effect on how well it converts. Test a few different positions (above body copy, beside body copy, below body copy, within body copy, etc.).
  4. Call to Action Style: How you style your call to action includes whether it’s just a text link or a button, the size, and the colors used. These things should be tested individually for the most accurate results.
  5. Copy Length/Style: The length and formatting of your body copy makes a huge difference in how many people actually read it. Test out different formats (lists, lots of headlines and short paragraphs, etc.) as well as different copy all together to see what works best.
  6. Corresponding Images: While not strictly copy, the images you opt to use with your text can have a huge impact on conversions, especially when selling a physical product. Test out which images work best, how many images are optimal, and how large those images should be.
  7. Different Offers: You may want to test different offers to see which one works best. Try to set your offers up so that they have similar values (to prevent skewed results). For example, you might offer one group of visitors free shipping, and the other group 10% off.

A/B Testing Best Practices

A/B testing is an important part of any successful marketing effort. Here are some best practices you should follow when conducting an A/B test.

  • Test Early and Test Often: You should run tests as early as possible when considering a new promotional technique or when launching a new product. You want your site optimized as soon as possible, so you aren’t losing sales.
  • Always Test Simultaneously: Running tests on both variations at the same time is vital, to prevent skewed results based on timing.
  • Listen to the Results: Resist the temptation to listen to your instincts if the empirical data is telling you different. You’re running controlled tests for reason. If in doubt, re-test.
  • Allow the Test to Run for Sufficient Time: Cutting the test off early just means there’s more room for error. The same can be said for letting it run too long. Try for a time period of a few days to a couple of weeks, depending on your site traffic (you want a minimum of a few hundred test results before drawing any conclusions, and preferably a few thousand).
  • Make Sure Repeat Visitors See the Same Variation: You don’t want repeat visitors who saw variation A on their first visit to see variation B on their next visit. Make sure you have provisions in your code to show them the same page until the test is complete. This is especially important if you’re testing different offers, not just different wording.

The key to a successful A/B test is consistency and control. You want your data to be as accurate as possible, and that requires careful planning and execution. By following the best practices above, you’ll have a successful A/B test with sound results on which you can base important decisions.

About the Author: Hagi Erez is the founder and CEO of Pluralis. An online marketplace for Landing Page Optimization which has a straightforward offer: let your potential customers optimize your landing page and pay for results, not for efforts (see how it works).

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