Landing Page Optimization

Why You Should Use A/B Testing to Refine Your Online Marketing


For those of us who work in marketing, we know the value of a hunch. That gut-feeling. We use it a lot to brainstorm new campaigns, solve problems, and direct our social media posts. There’s merit to the gut-feeling technique, it’s true. But there’s a downside too – your hunch might not always be right. In reality, it may always be wrong. That’s where A/B testing comes in.

What is A/B Testing?

A/B testing is a way to compare two versions of something (an email, a landing page, an ad, etc.), so that you can use analytics to determine which version is most successful. A/B testing isn’t unique to online marketing, but it is particularly helpful in this field, and in eCommerce especially. Here’s why.

When you’re putting together a website or ad campaign, there are many subtle changes and tweaks to make along the way. You choose what color to make the “Add to Cart” button. You opt for one image over another for your PPC ads. You change the copy on your landing page slightly. These choices might seem minor, but studies have shown again and again that customer behavior is majorly affected by them.

How Can A/B Testing Help?

A/B testing is actually ideal for trying out these kinds of changes. It’s a test for refining your online marketing, not completely overhauling it. Any eCommerce whiz can tell you that even small changes to the sales funnel can make big waves on the other end. Do you want to make those changes based on your hunch of what color looks best? Or your personal opinion on which text flows better? Or would you rather test out both options so you know for a fact that you’ve optimized in every way you can?

The real problem with relying on your gut is that it’s yours. Other people react differently to colors, words, images, even fonts. Your feeling about a certain choice might not be the majority’s reaction to it, and that’s who you should be trying to please! Even minute changes can be the difference between a considerable sale and an abandoned shopping cart, and I know which you’d prefer.

Email Marketing: A/B Testing in Action

Let’s look at an example of how A/B testing can help your email marketing strategy.

For many of us, our email marketing follows a standard schedule: weekly mailers with sales/offers, monthly newsletters, follow-up emails to encourage returning customers, etc. This probably means you’re pretty set in your ways – do your emails always go out at 11 a.m. on a Monday? Do they always have roughly the same subject line? Is the format the same?

You could be missing out on a chance to maximize the sales benefit for each email you send – but you’ll never know unless you use A/B testing to try out some changes and analyze the results.

Landing page test

First, you’ll need to decide which metrics matter the most to you for determining ‘success.’ You might want to track whatever constitutes a conversion for your business, whether it’s a sale or just downloading a free white paper. Click through rates are another good measure of your recipients’ interest, or you could track how many use a discount code included in the email. If you’re trying out different subject lines or timing, your open rate might be all you need to see results. Related Class: Metrics-Driven Demand Gen in a Multichannel World

The next step is splitting your mailing list into two groups – let’s call them A and B, for obvious reasons. If you’d like to compare two new ideas, you could send new, different versions to both groups. Or if you’re just looking to see how your current newsletters stack up against a slightly updated version, you could keep group A as your control group, and send group B the new email.

The key when making changes is to keep it minimal. Choose ONE aspect to change. This is important because at the end of the day, you’re looking for actionable results that can guide you going forward. If you change half the email, you won’t be able to put your finger on the one thing that really matters for increasing sales, conversions, CTR, etc.

A few easy things to test: if you usually email at 4 p.m., try 10 a.m. instead. If you usually use a standard greeting in the subject line, try something more discount/offer oriented. If you usually include a voucher code for a percentage off, try a buy-on-get-one voucher code instead. If you usually offer 15% off for returning customers, try 20% off instead.

Google Analytics Measurement for AdWords

The last step is sitting down with a big cup of coffee and all your analytics. Did the changes improve your key metrics? Or make them worse? Did offering a deeper discount pay off overall, or did you shrink your profit for nothing? Read over your results, compare outcomes, and then form steps or recommendations based on your data. It shouldn’t be surprising that continuing your A/B testing over a longer period will help you get more accurate data, less likely to be affected by random highs or lows on a certain day.

Goodbye to the Marketing Hunch

Overall, the clear lesson here is that if you’re not A/B testing changes to your website, sales funnel, or marketing techniques, you’re just relying on your own feedback to make decisions. Gather more feedback through testing, and it’s like a free focus group for your online marketing efforts! If you don’t have the time or personnel to manage A/B testing yourself in-house, there are many tools and services that will do the dirty work for you, for a fee.

Want to learn more about A/B testing for website design changes? See it in action and play along in this class, “10 A/B Test Studies.



How A/B Testing Strategies Can Help You Make Better Decisions


A Q&A with Chris Goward, Author of "You Should Test That!"

This week, we are sitting down with Chris Goward, the author of "You Should Test That!", a book that teaches the processes, frameworks and techniques of scientific marketing to make better decisions and achieve industry-leading results. Featuring case studies of real tests plus many more examples of how companies are succeeding and failing in their websites and their marketing, we're eager to learn more.

What’s the premise behind your book, “You Should Test That!” ?

Too many businesses still use antiquated methods for decision-making with their marketing. They seek out so-called “best practices”, copy competitors tactics, and redesign their websites without A/B testing, to name just a few examples. I wanted to write a book that would provide a dose of inspiration in the new scientific marketing discipline as well as practical processes and frameworks marketers can apply directly to their marketing strategy. It really does contain detail on a lot of the methods WiderFunnel uses to consistently achieve winning results for our clients.

You’ve become a regular speaker at the top online marketing conferences. How did you get into conversion optimization?

I’ve always questioned current ways of doing things. In the early to mid 2000’s, I wondered why marketers accepted the status quo where ad agencies used their clients’ budgets to create self-serving campaigns aimed solely at winning awards for cleverness. I couldn’t understand why digital agencies were creating websites that ignored direct response principles and really couldn’t be more than poor copies of the old TV world.

I left the agency world in 2007 to create WiderFunnel based on the belief that agencies should prove their value. Since then, we’ve been running thousands of A/B tests on hundreds of websites across all industries to discover consistent persuasion and user experience principles that maximize companies’ online profits.

Related Class: Integrating SEM, Testing, and Analytics for Improved ROI

What are the biggest mistakes you see marketers making today?

There are so many!

  • Implementing the latest “tips & tricks” they see on blog posts. I’ve already said many times why tactical marketing tips and “best practices” don’t work. The problem is that they ignore your unique business context.
  • Consensus decision-making.
  • Getting stuck behind organizational barriers. I’ve seen turf battles, silos and competing priorities hamstring some very promising potential A/B tests.
  • Acting on usability testing or other qualitative methods to make website changes without testing those insights. I’ve covered before, the many reasons that usability testing alone is not reliable.
  • Testing too conservatively.
  • Not prioritizing effort correctly and wasting time optimizing inconsequential areas.
  • Using “before & after” testing rather than correct controlled test methods.
  • Drawing conclusions from inconclusive data. Often, it’s difficult for the conversion champion to hold off the pressure to make decisions without enough data.
  • Taking advice from “experts” who don’t do a ton of testing. If their primary business isn’t testing, testing and more testing, where is their advice coming from? You might be surprised at how little testing some of the industry’s pre-eminent figures actually do.
  • Over-emphasizing optimization tool selection before developing a strategy and process for optimization. Tools don’t solve marketing problems. Smart marketers with great strategy and ideas do.

What are the biggest challenges businesses face in adopting marketing optimization as a strategy?

I’ve been running an ongoing poll of marketers asking a similar question since 2012.

Interestingly, in 2012, most respondents said they faced resistance within their organization for conducting testing. This year, that’s the least likely challenge. Companies now know conversion optimization needs to be prioritized and there’s senior-level support for the strategy.

The biggest challenges marketers face in 2014 are in getting great results from their program. They either don’t have staff with deep testing experience, don’t have a reliable process, or face technical barriers. So, it’s good to see the market evolving to having support for the strategy. Now, the challenges are more about how to get consistent results.

eConsultancy did their own survey of companies doing conversion optimization and found that those who reported having a “structured approach” to their program were twice as likely to see large increases in sales. The disciplined, rigorous process alone determines a great deal of the success.

Related Class: eCommerce Testing to Dramatically Lift Sales 

What are your favorite website elements to test?

Really, I like any testing any area that gets results. And, that can be different for every website depending on where the conversion barriers are. Every website design, structure and target audience is slightly different. Some companies are adopting WiderFunnel’s PIE Framework for prioritizing tests to answer this question based on their unique context.

That being said, however, we’re having a lot of success this year adding the “Evolutionary Site Redesign” strategy to conversion optimization for our clients.

It’s a strategy any (and I believe every) company should use. Essentially, it means we’re testing the site-wide website templates in a methodical way. It results in a redesigned website without the risks of traditional “flip the switch” epic redesign. Using A/B testing of the overall design elements, companies are finding sometimes huge revenue improvements from improved navigation, information architecture, design credibility, merchandising, etc. and the resulting design changes can be just as dramatic.

In this class, 10 A/B Test Studies, you’ll encounter 10 such tests and can guess which page won. The answers will surprise you and the knowledge you’ll gain about how to conduct these tests and what makes some pages better than others will make you a more effective marketer.   


5 Reasons Buyers Leave Your Website – and What You Can Do About It


Do visitors spend less time on your website than they do looking for your website?

Buyers pre-qualify vendors partly on their online presence. Every second spent navigating, reading your copy, or clicking on images helps them grade you. So your website can only do one of two things: pull prospects into your funnel or cause them to click away.

How do you know when your website is repelling potential customers and stripping your bottom line?

1.     Your page descriptions tell a lie

Have you ever looked forward to trying a new product, only to be disappointed after you’d opened the box? We all have.

For online users, a meta description represents that box that holds everything they’re hoping for. Much like the packaging, content and images on the box, it offers a promise of what to expect if a user clicks on it.

Surprising users with a headline, copy, and call-to-action that don’t jibe with the meta description can  frustrate them and chase them away.  

Writing effective meta page descriptions takes two steps:

  1. Review each of your site’s pages.
  2. Summarize the page’s objective in 155 words. Inject a keyword or phrase, a call-to-action, your brand or product name, an order line phone number, or an action-oriented statement.

When your meta descriptions perfectly match the content they’re leading to, you’ll drive higher engagement and increase your conversion rate.

2.     Your pages load too slowly

Online buyers are purpose driven. Few things annoy more than waiting for slow loading pages.

Image-heavy websites don’t only discourage buyers, they drag down performance and search rankings. And while Google’s recent announcement that it will resize Web images to help shorten load times, the onus is still on the marketer to optimize each page for maximum performance.

Before you add more images, scripts, or fancy multimedia to your website, test each page for speed. Does each element support your value proposition? If not, discard needless elements.

With only seconds to decide, your visitor’s time online is precarious. Make the best use of his or her time and consistently deliver fast loading pages to shorten the path to conversions.

Related Class: How to Convert More Website Visitors Into Customers: Best Practices for Usability and Analytics

3.     You’re playing hide and seek

A first time visitor’s top question is “Who is this company and what can they do for me?” Yet, reams of marketers still hide basic company information, thinking that it’s the user’s job to seek them out.

Big mistake.

According to KoMarketing’s recent usability survey, 58 percent of B2B buyers feel that a company’s address and contact information is “critically important” in moving forward with a request for a proposal.

About Us and Contact pages can help build trust and credibility, reinforce your core message, and move buyers to the next step.

Make it easy for users to learn more about you. Use logical menu titles and navigation that display your company information within two to three clicks.

The faster a visitor finds what she’s looking for, the more likely she’ll stay on your site to learn more.

4.     You don’t connect with visitors

The top reason prospects visit your website is for research. That’s why every aspect of it should say “Mr. Prospect, here’s why we’re the right vendor.”

  • Weave your USP or value proposition throughout your copy to reinforce a consistent message and theme.
  • Use headlines to orientate your visitor. Whether your prospect came through a PPC ad, an organic search, or a newsletter link, he needs to instantly connect with the headline.  Ask a question, offer a unique benefit or make a bold statement with your headlines. Then, deliver on that promise in your copy.
  • Show them who you are. Many marketers use generic stock images to depict business situations or even their staff. By not showing prospects their true colors, they can cast doubt and cause them to backpedal.   

Here’s how MicroAge introduces their team:



Their Experts page displays a crew of IT professionals who come to life when you click on a photo. Each member shares expertise, certifications, contact info, blog posts they’ve contributed, as well as interesting non-professional tidbits and aspirations.  Their visitors not only see a face with a name,they also leave the website with a deeper sense of what the organization is about and who they’ll be working with.

  • Support your features with unique benefits your visitors can’t find elsewhere. Communicating your benefits cements the buyer’s impression that yours is the best solution.
  • Use FAQ pages to answer commonly asked questions and provide more details, terminology, etc.
  • Make your website responsive and easy to read and navigate on any type of device.

Catering to your visitors’ needs and challenges drives a deeper connection and shuts down any distrust that can cost you a sale.

5.     You ask too much

How much information do marketers really need?

In the same usability survey, 82 percent of users named excessive form requirements as their top deterrent to filling out a form for a free white paper, webinar, case study, etc.

Clearly, asking prospects to fill out job titles, company size, annual sales, and other highly detailed information can stop them in their tracks. Remember, online users are goal oriented and after driving them successfully to a landing page or contact form only to lose them isn’t a risk worth taking.

Speed things up and keep visitors on your good side with short and easy forms. Once they’re in your funnel, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to ask for more information and broaden your understanding of who they are and what they need.

Each visit to your website is an opportunity to show that you’re truly aligned with your prospect. Use these tips to sharpen your focus onto your visitors, drive engagement, and eventually reap more sales.

To take a deeper dive into the ways you can further understand your buyers and why and how the purchase, watch and learn from this Online Marketing class, "Understanding your buyers and how they purchase". You'll take away three important ideas you need to incorporate into your organization to stay ahead of the curve.


Psychology-based Marketing: 3 Proven Ways to Increase Engagement and Response


psychology based marketingGetting people to click, call, or visit is hard work.

But what if there were a secret to it? And what if this secret were scientifically-proven … affordable … and easy?

If this sounds like the miracle of science you’ve been waiting for, I have good news: Your wait is over.

Social scientists have now proven that people have developed shortcuts to decision-making. In truth, if we wanted to weigh every bit of information before making a decision, we’d never make any. So over the millennia, we’ve created these default behaviors. And science shows we rely on them all the time – even though we’re often unaware of it. 

RELATED CLASS: 7 Ways to Motivate Behavior in Any Online Channel

And what does this have to do with marketing? Lots! Because not only have social scientists discovered these decision shortcuts — these instinctive, reflexive actions — they’ve also found that they can be prompted. 

In other words, we can use what science has proven about human behavior in order to influence it – to stack the deck in our favor.

Social scientists have identified dozens of human behavior principles. Here are three you can use today to increase engagement and response.

1. Availability Bias

Social scientists have found that people judge the likelihood of something happening based on how easy it is to think of examples. That’s why, after hearing about a plane crash, we all think it’s more dangerous to fly than it actually is.

So how can marketers use this? Let me give you an example. Sharper Image sent me an email advertising their “Weather Alert Emergency Hand Crank Radio.” Now I happen to believe God created batteries for a reason. I am not the hand crank type.

However, the very night before the email arrived, there were terrible thunderstorms in my area. It was all over the news. People lost power. While I wasn’t one of them, it certainly changed my perception about the need for a hand crank radio. 

RELATED CLASS: How to Write Killer Email Copy

2. Social Proof

Social scientists have found that when people are uncertain of what to do, they look to others — especially others like themselves – and follow their lead.

This is why endorsements from your customers trump anything you as a marketer can say.

So how can you harness social proof in your marketing? One example is an email  the Obama campaign sent during his bid for re-election. It’s now no secret that President Obama assembled a team of behavioral scientists to help get the vote out. This particular email offered “25 reasons from 25 people who are voting for Obama,” and then urged me to forward the email to my friends. It’s a great example of social proof used on me – and then by me.

25 reasons people are voting for obama

3. Principle of Scarcity

When something is available only to a select group of people, or only for a limited amount of time, that makes us want it even more. Social scientists call this the principle of scarcity and it has two components: exclusivity and urgency.

A terrific example of the scarcity principle in action is Grey Poupon’s Society of Good Taste. Essentially a fan club for the mustard, Grey Poupon requires you to apply for membership through a Facebook app. Candidates are scored based on their “credentials, social standing and public appearances,” and either accepted or not. 

Grey Poupon Society Facebook

Once in, you can try to win prizes that are available only during specified times.

Essentially, the promotion leveraged both the exclusivity and urgency halves of scarcity.

There are plenty more human behavior principles where these came from – all particularly powerful in increasing engagement and response.

Learn scientifically proven ways to prompt your audience to take automatic action.

Watch 7 Ways to Motivate Behavior in Any Online Channel, and discover techniques you can easily embed in your integrated strategy and creative today in order to increase your engagement and response rates tomorrow. You'll learn how to harness the surprising power of the Principle of Consistency, and see rich examples from email, direct mail, social, and digital. Get instant access to this class now.


10 Tips for Responsive Landing Page Design


Landing pages. Maybe you've designed one...or maybe you've designed hundreds. And whether you are a newbie or well-versed in mobile, you know that over the years user needs have changed dramatically. Gone are the days when mobile devices were the exception within digital marketing campaigns. Now they’re the norm — their usage impacts results and marketers need to satisfy those users.The spectrum of screen sizes and resolutions is broadening every day.

Did you know that 71% of media-using population is multi-screen? Seems pretty "normal" as I write this post in front of my laptop, 27-inch Thunderbolt display and (of course) my cell phone within arm's reach.  Advertising and marketing success is dependent on delivering usable and satisfying experiences on all devices—smartphones, tablets and computers.

The need for responsive landing pages is becoming more and more obvious as we are bombarded with mobile growth stats:

"Smartphone sales reached 1 billion in 2012..."

"...expected to double by 2015!"

"Tablet ownership up 282% from Q1 2011 to Q1 2013!"

"Phablets now selling more than tablets, research says!"

Mashable declared 2013 "The Year of Responsive Web Design."

And then there's Google Enhanced Campaigns, which was mandated across all AdWords campaigns back in July. If you weren't ready for mobile, well, it didn't matter, because it happened.

So what does it all mean? Now is the time for all marketers and advertisers to accept that succeeding in digital means making your campaigns responsive. Not tomorrow. Today.  RELATED CLASS: The Mobile Web & Responsive Design

The good news?

The promise of responsive design is that one page can satisfy everyone, on every device—large and small. Responsive templates can decrease the time it takes to build and publish your landing pages. There are platforms that allow marketers to create app-like responsive experiences that look and behave like they were custom-crafted by a team of expert designers and developers. (Shameless plug: ion's own platform has responsive templates.)

Below are 10 of my favorite best practices for responsive landing page design. Use these to ensure you are building landing pages that not only respond, but convert!

1. Design in your landscape smartphone viewport

Start small & wide. Landscape smartphone viewport can have the widest possible image use cases. Start designing and previewing in this viewport.

responsive landing page - landscape

2. Spin often

Continuously check your smartphone landscape viewport against your portrait viewport. Portrait is the most narrow and will require the most thoughtful & concise headline lengths.

3. Scroll frequently

Preview, preview, preview. Scrolling all the way down to the bottom of your pages will help you maintain the integrity of the entire page, across all viewports.

4. Create finger-friendly forms

Focus on how your forms scale, fit, scroll, their field types, how buttons behave & how hints and errors are surfaced.

responsive landing page form

5. Leverage interactive content

Mimic the mobile app. More content in less space with more elegance. Minimize long-page scrolling with tabbed content accordions and other app-like interactive elements.

responsive landing page - tabbed

6. Use highly communicative images

As your images change positions or size, notice how they are perceived at various viewports.

7. Make smart navigation choices

Decide how many navigation tabs responsive design can support. This depends, based on length of words.

8. Respond well to touch

Avoid on-states that create two-touch requirements for actuation.

table landing page design

9. Require everyone be responsive

Ensure video and other third-party media is responsive as well.

10. Design "mobile first"

Lastly, to expand upon designing in the mobile viewports, I recommend designing "mobile first." Mobile-first design is an approach that lends itself to a responsive world. It simply means that you create first and foremost for mobile — making the desktop your secondary focus. Mobile first forces the tough decisions — more concise content, more communicative imagery, and more thoughtful choices around conversion. When you make those tough choices for the small screen, the bigger screen benefits.

Right content, in the right place, for every user.

Done right, responsive pages put the right content in the right place on the page for every user. It significantly increases the probability that your campaign will convert visitors into leads, calls & sales. If that isn't reason enough to embrace responsive — staggering growth statistics and Google's Enhanced Campaigns certainly should be!

Learn how to adapt to mobile and tablet users with responsive design.

Watch The Mobile Web and Responsive Design, and get expert advice for developing your responsive design strategy. Learn the 6 reasons why mobile websites should lead your digital approach, the key steps and tools necessary for following Google's guidance on using responsive design, and when you should create special mobile sites, or use your core site for mobile traffic. Get instant access to this class now.


7 Awesome Tools for Landing Page Optimization


According to independent research by Compete, there is no faster, more efficient way to improve your return on digital advertising spend than by improving your landing pages. In fact, it is possible that your competitors could be generating five times the ROI as you are with comparable messaging and spending. The only difference? The post-click experience.

Okay, so I sold you, right? Landing page optimization is important. Once you have the right tactics and strategy down (take our Conversion Optimization Crash Course with Brian Massey for that), consider adding these great tools for landing page optimization to your marketing arsenal. Are there any other ones you would include? Leave a comment below.

1. CrazyEgg

Landing Page Analytics

We use CrazyEgg here at OMI, and I love geeking out over the eye tracking reports. I can easily see which parts of our website visitors are engaging with, and which parts just fall flat. We've used this data to improve our navigation, layout, copy, and more. Sure, a lot of this data is also in Google Analytics, but the visual format really changes the way we look at and interpret the data. Instead of simply presenting numbers or graphs, the eye tracking reports clearly tie metrics back to content and design, so you can better see and understand what is happening on your website, and hopefully figure out why. Because remember—it's not the size of the data, it's how you use (and interpret) it.

2. PPC Advisor: Landing Pages and Leads by Wordstream

Landing Page Creation

The brilliant team over at Wordstream just released their new tool for landing page creation. It's a smart move, as your landing pages can make or break your PPC results. While I haven't had a chance to test drive it yet, I have used Wordstream's keyword tools before, and they're very intuitive and smart. As far as I can tell, it's the only platform that enables you to manage your PPC efforts and create landing pages, all in one complete solution. Definitely add this tool to your list to check out.

3. the ion landing page platform

Landing Page Creation, Analytics, Testing

I was lucky enough to be an ion customer when I was Online Marketing Manager in a previous role. We used the ion platform (also  known as LiveBall, for those in the know) to create and test landing pages across different business units and teams, including paid membership, sponsorships (lead generation), and in-person events. The platform enabled us to quickly create effective AND beautiful landing pages in just minutes, with some converting at over 50%, depending on the stream of traffic (read the case study here). Since analytics, creation, and testing are all part of the interface, you can quickly launch campaigns in the morning and monitor your results throughout the day. Now, if you're like me and always strive to knock each campaign out of the park, definitely check out the ion platform. It makes achieving big wins a daily occurrence. And really, there's no better feeling as a marketer than achieving something great... every single day.

4. Unbounce

Landing Page Creation and Testing

So if you like to achieve big wins but your budget is small, Unbounce might be the perfect solution for you. It comes ready-baked with dozens of pre-designed landing page templates. (And yes, I inquired—you can create your own templates, too.) Plus, it integrates with popular tools like HubSpot and MailChimp, so you can create a page, launch a test, and push all the new leads you captured right into your email marketing solution.

5. Google Analytics and Content Experiments

Landing Page Analytics and Testing

Our own Google Content Experiment TestI love Google Analytics. I can easily spend hours creating custom reports and segments, slicing and dicing data, until I know exactly how many days it took transaction 5234 to finally convert after she typed in "email marketing best practices" into Google from her iPhone in Washington state, landed on a course topics page, navigated to a class page on "Email Marketing Copy", followed us on Twitter, clicked a link from our Twitter account, and came back to our website (again).

Okay, so that's getting a bit into the minutia. But if you haven't already set up conversion tracking and goals for your landing pages, get on that, ASAP. We all know that you can't improve what you don't measure, and even if you have a specialized tool for landing page analytics, you should still set up conversion tracking in Google Analytics to get a holistic view of your marketing performance.

RELATED CLASS: Strategic Framework for a Great Web Analytics Strategy—The ZMOT Google Perspective

As far as their testing solution, I like how Google integrated Website Optimizer (now Content Experiments) into Google Analytics, but it still requires development resources to launch tests, and you have to create separate URLs for the pages you want to test against each other. Given the time and resources required to launch a landing page test with Content Experiments, I'd recommend one of the paid testing solutions, instead.

6. Visual Website Optimizer

Landing Page Testing

Unlike Google Content Experiments, Visual Website Optimizer enables you to launch A/B tests on your landing pages and website without any coding or development resources (awesome!). It starts at about $49 a month, so if you save even 10 minutes a month on your landing page testing (vs. using Google Content Experiments), the solution pays for itself—and that's not even taking into account conversion lift!

7. Optimizely

Landing Page Testing

Optimizely was co-founded by Dan Siroker, who was Director of Analytics for the 2008 Obama campaign. Testing was a big part of the Obama Campaign's digital strategy—they continuously tested emails, landing pages, etc. to find out which ones drove the highest donations and open rates. Remember all those emails from Bill Clinton and Michelle Obama with the subject line, "hey."? We have Dan to thank.

Anyways, I haven't used the tool myself, but it's similar to Visual Website Optimizer, with plans starting at $17 a month. Both Visual Website Optimizer and Optimizely have free trials, so I'll let you decide which testing platform makes the most sense for you.

Learn how to convert more visitors into leads and paying customers.

Take our Conversion Optimization Crash Course, and get proven advice for driving more business from your website and landing pages. Instructor Brian Massey will teach you how the brain is designed to ignore most messages and what to do about it. And you’ll be given the chemical formula for successful landing pages that will free you to be creative, persuasive and successful. All in just three hours. Sign up now.


25 Elements to Test on Your Landing Pages


Need landing page testing inspiration? You've come to the right place. Below, you'll find 25 elements to test within any landing experience — homepage, product page, landing page or mobile-optimized experience. Whether you are launching your first A/B test or your 100th, you can use this 25-point framework to inspire new testing ideas, hypotheses and actionable next steps for optimization. Best of all, you can keep it handy with this downloadable R.E.A.D.Y. framework. So print it, pin it, and use it to stay focused on what’s most important in driving conversions.

landing page testing ideas

1. Message match.

Test your headline to improve message match and engagement. Check out: 5 Types of Headlines to Test on Your Landing Page for more headline testing ideas.

2. Targeting

Test a conversion path to help identify and provide targeted copy to your visitors. A conversion path is a conversion-focused, linear landing experience, specifically designed to catch and convert incoming traffic from your online marketing campaigns. In the example below, visitors self-segment and receive highly-targeted messaging.

subscription landing page

The simplicity of this kind of landing experience makes visitors want to click, and makes it easy for visitors to self-identify.  The headline is catchy, benefit-driven and leads the visitor into segmenting with a strong offer statement. This type of test is especially useful for high funnel keyword searches.

3. Design match.

est a more visually cohesive experience from your email or banner to your landing page. Don't worry, redundancy is appreciated, rather than excessive in this instance.

4. Visuals

Test people imagery versus product imagery. Test directional cues — both implicit (direction of gaze, color, etc.) and explicit (arrows, curves, etc) to help guide visitors towards the desired action. Test icons against photography. Test, test, test.

5. Language

It is important to play to audience identity. Test tailoring your pages to the characteristics of the people who visit. The University of Texas Arlington uses authentic nurse imagery, job-specific terminology and “you” language to provide a highly relevant experience to their target audience.

education landing page example

6. Value proposition

Probably the single most valuable element to test. Your value proposition answers the questions "why should I buy from you instead of them?" Creating a list of features is easy, but great landing page copy sells visitors on benefits, not features. One of the first techniques you can explore is transforming your major features into benefits. Write down your top five features and ask yourself, “what problem does this feature solve for our customer?” Then, test each as your headline.

7. Real & tangible benefits

 See above! In this A/B test, a benefit-focused headline (version B) drove 28% more email signups than the page with the product-focused headline (version A).

landing page AB test example

8. Emotional appeal

Incorporate a story, an insight, a mood into your messaging.

9. Persuasive content

Focus specifically on why users need your product or service.

10. Design

Radically re-imagine the user experience, focusing on intuitive, user-centered design that communicates value. Marian University lifts conversion rates over 264% with radical landing experience redesigns.

11. Trust assurances

Test the impact of adding a telephone number to your page (if it isn't there already) or test placement and visual emphasis of customer-centric policies (100% satisfaction guarantee) and trust marks (BBB, Truste, Verisign, etc.)

12. Credibility

Test using specific numbers and verifiable facts instead of fluffy claims

13. Context of use

Provide evidence of how a product or service solves a real problem. Test showing your product in the hands of a user. Test a product video or a virtual tour.

14. Social proof

Social proof comes in many shapes and sizes — expert, celebrity, user, and wisdom of crowds and wisdom of friends. Expert proof relies on the expertise, education or approval from a credible source. Celebrity endorsements can obviously yield high impact social proof, especially if unpaid. The only way to know what resonates with visitors and drives engagement is to test.

15. Brand consistency

Definitely a best practice, but something that can be tested as well (especially if you are creating campaign landing pages). Test a standard brand look and feel against a campaign-specific look and feel. Check out some of my favorite campaign-themed conversion paths from Overland Storage.

B2B landing page examples

16. Call-to-Action

CTAs are definitely low-hanging fruit. Minor tweaks to button design and copy can result in conversion lifts. If you are offering content (white papers, webinar, guides) in exchange for lead information, you should test different offers to see what content drives the most (and the most qualified leads).

17. Choices

Executed properly, post-click segmentation reveals people’s preferences, intentions, and audience segments. Test providing a small number of choices that are mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive. A good example of a proper MECE segmentation would be this landing page for Citrix, for people responding to HIPPA-compliant IT advertisements in the health care industry.

18. Removing distractions

Test simplified segmentation (see above). Test without navigation! Remove distractions, remove navigation.

19. Additional motivation or incentives

Test offering supplemental content as adding incentive.

20. Progressive conversion

Test breaking up your lead form into multiple steps. This works especially well for long or tedious forms. Don't forget to pay off each step with relevant and useful information.

21. Post-conversion engagement

Test micro-conversions on your thank you page. Provide relevant content, links to additional information, social sharing or an upsell to see if you can further engage and build rapport post-conversion.

22. Data-driven hypotheses

Use data to uncover potential testing opportunities and establish concrete hypotheses. Every test plan should include data that supports your testing hypothesis.

23. A/B & MVT testing

If you are still practicing sequential testing, please stop now. You need a testing platform for split testing. There are too many variables that can affect the results of sequential tests. The only way to test is to do it in real-time. Check out our Buyer's Guide to help find the right testing platform for you.

24. Putting testing requirements in place

Make sure to put testing requirements in place. Whether it be a minimum level of statistical confidence, or a test timeframe, make sure you are setting yourself up for testing success: concrete hypothesis + testing requirements + a/b testing tool = analysis-driven next steps.

25. Analysis-driven next steps

Piggybacking off of data-driven hypothesis testing, analysis-driven testing is based on behavioral data and analysis of "click behavior." You can test your gut, but data-driven next steps are often the most successful.

Learn how to drive more conversions with better landing pages.

Watch the tutorial—B2B Landing Page Best Practices for Success—and discover proven techniques for creating and optimizing high-converting B2B landing pages. Access it FREE with a 7-day trial to the Online Marketing Institute. Activate trial now.


5 Awesome Landing Page Strategies for Higher Conversions


Online advertising budget? Check.

Compelling, clickable ads? Check.

Seductive post-click marketing? Hmmm...what?

The click through from your online advertising to its destination is post-click marketing...and it may be your first moment of truth in digital marketing. People judge the quality of their post-click experience within 1/20th of a second. Whether you are driving those clicks to your home page or a highly targeted landing experience, a first impression is made.

According to Google, the zero moment of truth is "that moment when you grab your laptop, mobile phone or some other wired device and start learning about a product or service (or potential boyfriend) you’re thinking about trying or buying."

So why is ZMOT important?

  • 70% of Americans read product reviews prior to making a purchase
  • 79% of consumers use a smart phone to help with shopping
  • 83% of moms say they do online research after seeing TV commercials for products that interest them

These numbers may not be so surprising any more. But they shouldn't be taken for granted.

A great first impression will lift the perception of your brand for everything that follows. Every online experience should communicate your brand in a relevant and highly impactful way. However, compelling design for landing experiences is often underutilized. Landing pages are mechanically cranked out with same plain, boring “recipes” — headline, subhead, bulleted list, call-to-action. But, alas, creating high performance pages is not formulaic. You can stand out by having your landing experiences reach through the screen and grab your audience’s attention and mindshare. Post-click marketing presents a tremendous opportunity for you to gain a competitive advantage.

Disclaimer: there is no guarantee that any of the below strategies will increase conversions for you. However, I have worked with dozens of customers who have increased their ROI with seductive post-click marketing.

RELATED TUTORIAL: B2B Landing Page Best Practices for Success

Below are 5 ways to drive awesome response rates with great post-click marketing experiences.

1. The Segmented Experience

Unlike traditional landing page optimization, which usually focuses on testing and optimizing page elements, segment optimization focuses on identifying who your audience is, then optimizes unique visitor experiences. Instead of stretching one page to try to please everyone, which is quite hard to do – segment optimization breaks out several specialized landing pages. Iron Mountain knows that all clicks are not created equal. Keyword searches for "shredding services" can be an enterprise looking for an ongoing shredding service. Or, it could be an individual looking for safe way to dispose of a box of confidential documents. The landing page below asks the visitor to identify their need immediately. Residential visitors are directed to Iron Mountain's partner locator. Businesses are provided with targeted pages of content, outlining the process for one-time, pick-up and drop-off services. By identifying individuals up front, Iron Mountain was quickly "weed out" unqualified leads and get them to a trusted local partner.

Great B2B Landing Page

2. The All-Mighty Microsite

A landing page or website must be all things to all visitors. But a microsite can deliver a highly differentiated subset of information to a highly targeted audience. You can create multi-page, navigable user experiences to deliver rich, topic or campaign-specific content. Microsites are also the perfect venue for complex products or solutions and can be highly effective at converting "upper funnel" keywords. In this example, testing a lead-gen focused microsite against the Long Term Care product page within, leads increased 700% over the benchmark! The ion platform allowed Genworth the flexibility to created a dedicated lead capture microsite experience, without requesting changes to the corporate website.

Genworth Landing Page Example

3. Social Login

According to the 2011 Blue Research report, “Consumer Perceptions of Online Registration and Social Login,” 77% of consumers believe social login should be offered — this is up from 66% in 2010. Additionally, nearly 8 in 10 consumers would prefer to login to sites using a social identity, versus traditional account creation. Offering the option of signing in with a social login (e.g. Facebook or Twitter) as an alternative to filling out a form has several benefits:

  • Improved user experience
  • Reduced form fields, reduced friction
  • Improved accuracy of data collected

We too have seen the addition of social login (or sign on) increase lead conversions when offered alongside a standard sign up form. I can't share specific results of our testing with iContact, but introducing a social account creation option has resulted in an increase in free trial sign ups. Testing of placement, design and network offering has provided meaningful learning at an ad group level.

B2B landing page example iContact

I also love this experience because it includes a progressive form experience within the traditional account creation form.

4. Progressive Conversion

So what the heck is progressive conversion anyway? Well, progressive conversion recognizes that sometimes people need multiple interactions with you, either in a single session or across multiple visits, before they are ready to convert. One of my all-time favorite progressive experience is one I found while curating examples for our R.E.A.D.Y conversion best practices series. does a fantastic job of gently guiding the user through several steps before asking for lead information. The visitor is guided through the site "creation" process in a logical, step-by-step fashion to establish trust, build commitment and earn the end-goal conversion action.

Multi-Step Great Landing Page Example

With multi-step experiences, you “pay off” the previous click and encourage visitors to continue moving through the conversion funnel. Once login is created, users get an immediate pay off…the site is “ready”!

great landing page example

Additionally, according to a survey from Pit Stop Media 52% of online retails use some sort of progress bar during their checkout process, and among those, 80% use some sort of sense of action or “moving forward” indicator through arrows or next page links. In this example (a Which Test Won Gold Award-Winner) adding step indicators to Dell’s 2-step form improved lead conversions by 8%.

This test may seem like a no-brainer, and honestly, it is — very little resource investment is needed to create two form images to help drive conversions. But, the smartest part is hidden in the form. Dell asks an easy entry question “how can we help you?” followed by a required email address. Even if the user drops off on the second form, Dell has still captured email address for nurture and re-marketing. Smart!

5. Device Optimization

Generally speaking, there are two ways to implement device optimized landing pages:

  • Use responsive design -> pages adapt to the appropriate device
  • Create native mobile pages -> pages are explicitly designed for that purpose

With responsive design, you can create one version of your pages that look good across all devices. At ion, we have an awesome responsive SEO pages that looks great on my iPad, iPhone and iMac (oh and on a PC too). However, for our pay-per-click landing experiences we create native mobile landing pages.

Mobile Landing Page Example

These are intentionally designed for conversion. We decide what content, imagery, form fields and interactive elements are included. Longer forms are substituted with shorter, finger-friendly forms. Content rotators are replaced with static images. Navigation is removed. I love responsive web design. I love native mobile landing pages. I encourage you to find a software that allows you to create, test and optimize both types of device optimized pages. The choice should be yours!

The fact that excellent design is not formulaic is a good thing, as it enables marketers to differentiate from the competition.
Have you tried one of more of the five strategies above? I'd love to hear your testing stories and other innovative ways you are taking advantage of your customer's "moment of truth." Comment below, or tweet me at @jsscacollier!

Learn how to drive more conversions with better landing pages.

Watch B2B Landing Page Best Practices for Successand discover proven techniques for creating and optimizing high-converting B2B landing pages. Access it FREE with your trial to the Online Marketing Institute. Get instant access now.


5 Ways to Improve B2B Landing Pages


You can't nurture what you don't convert.

According to a survey by BtoB Magazine, 59% of B2B marketers say email is the most effective channel for generating revenue. However, more than 60% of B2B marketers report that their greatest marketing challenge for 2012 was generating more leads. To efficiently boost revenue in 2013, focus on generating more leads by improving your landing pages.

1. Focus on Benefits, Not Features

I've created and tested many B2B landing pages—and I can you the absolute #1 most important element of your landing page is the message. Your headline and body copy must be clear, not clever, and focus on benefits, not features. I know you love your product (hey, I do too!), but strip your page of copy that focuses on features or company jargon. Instead, use the jargon that your target audience uses, and speak directly to them.

In this example below from one of our own campaigns, the headline and copy focus on clear and obvious benefits, and the page converts at over 60%. 

B2B landing page

The benefit-focused message of this page is clearly presented in the header, headline, and throughout the copy.

2. Match the Message of Your Ad to the Message of Your Landing Pages

Ensure that the message on your landing page clearly matches the message of the ad or offer that got the visitor to click. The more tightly aligned they are, the higher your conversion rate will be. If you're managing a large scale or more sophisticated digital program, this means creating tens, if not hundreds, of unique landing pages.

3. Reduce Required Form Fields

After just 1 click, visitors are just not that into you (yet). Require the least amount of fields possible, and built a relationship with them over time through lead nurturing.

The less form fields you require on your landing pages, the higher your conversion rate will be. Lengthy forms with too many fields (example: state, revenue, industry) require visitors to reveal sensitive information about themselves before you've gained their trust and built a relationship with them. In addition, these fields take up valuable real estate on your landing page, and overwhelm visitors who just aren't that into you (yet).

If the objective of you landing page is to generate leads for lead nurturing, I recommend only collecting first name, last name, and email address. This allows you to cast the widest net possible, and nurture cold leads to hot with a targeted lead nurturing program. In addition, you can begin to gather more information on your leads over time with progressive profiling.

Now, if your sales team or other members of the marketing team are hesitant to remove other fields, propose to A/B test the page. Once you can demonstrate the significant increase in lead quantity (and maybe even quality, because your best leads may be hesitant to share information), they'll agree to collecting less information initially.

In this example below, I clicked on an ad after searching for "landing page testing tips", and was taken to the below page that offers a white paper. There is a tremendous opportunity for the advertiser to generate a higher quantity of leads and increase revenue by reducing the number of required form fields and THEN nurturing those leads over time with a lead management program. Learn more about lead management.

This lead generation landing page would convert significantly better if it only required 3-5 fields, instead of 12.

4. Keep Your Design Simple

As I explained above, the most important element of your landing page is an effective message with a clear and obvious value proposition for the user. It's important that the design of your page supports, and not detracts, from that message. For B2B lead generation, I've found that simple, well-branded pages with strong call-to-action, short form, and image that represents the offer (ex: white paper cover) work well.

5. A/B Test Your Landing Pages

Now that you've got the message down, the best way to see a continuous improvement in your conversion rate and lead quantity is to A/B test your landing pages. If you're not testing your pages already, it's always best to begin by testing the element that you think will have the biggest influence on conversions.

My favorite elements to test and constantly improve are:

  • The headline: David Ogilvy once said, “On average, five times as many people read the headlines as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.” In my experience, simply testing your headline can result in a conversion increase of 100%.
  • The call-to-action: Along with the overall message, your call-to-action is critical to the success of your landing page. The more specific the call-to-action, the better. Clearly state the intended goal of the page, and guide the visitor to complete the action that you want them to do.
  • Design: Your design should enhance the message and support the goal of your page, not detract from it. A pretty page with a lousy message is far less effective than a boring page with a great message. But the real gold is when you combine a great message with an effective design. And the best way to find out which design supports your goal best is through testing. Start with high-contrast A/B tests, find champions, and go from there.

In the B2B landing page test below from ion interactive, A/B testing the design and adding an image of the white paper resulted in an increase of lead capture conversions of 17%, helping to save the advertiser over $100,000 per year and increase their ROI by 291% (including services costs). Learn more about conversion optimization.

Version A won and resulted in $100,000 in savings.

If this advertiser was able to save $100,000 by running a simple A/B test, just imagine what YOU can achieve by allocating more time and effort to improving your landing pages. Exciting, right?

RELATED CLASS: B2B Landing Page Best Practices for Success


10 Expert Tips for Increasing Landing Page Conversions


Brian Massey Landing Page Conversions

Brian Massey, The Conversion Scientist & Author of "Your Customer Creation Equation"

An effective landing page optimization program can have a profound impact on your organization's bottom line. In fact, according to data from landing page optimization vendor ion interactive, 73% of their customers that create and test landing pages achieve 100% lift in their conversion rate. Amazing, right?

Data doesn't lie, but I've also seen first-hand how simply creating and testing targeting landing pages can impact digital marketing performance, so I'm thrilled that Brian Massey, the
Conversion Scientist and author of Your Customer Creation Equation, is joining us next Thursday, February 22 for an interactive, online workshop on landing page success. I have seen Brian present many times (both in-person and online), and he is by far one of my favorite instructors on digital and conversion marketing. This will be an informative AND fun virtual workshop that you don't want to miss.

To give you a sneak peek of next week's workshop, I interviewed Brian and asked him for his best advice on landing page optimization. Here's what he had to say:

1. What are some of the most common landing page mistakes marketers make?

The first and most damning is to start their landing page with the template of their corporate website. It typically adds a whole bunch of distractions and opportunities to abandon. Navigation, social media links, a logo that links to the home page, alternative offers and more columns than is needed all contribute to clutter and distraction.

I say start with a clean page.

2. What are the top 5 elements of an effective landing page?

Start with a landing page. Blank is preferred. Add an offer and some way to take action, a button or form is typical. To overcome the abandonment, slather on persuasive copy. Show the product with an image.

Add some trust symbols, sprinkle in some proof, and, voila! You have a landing page.

I’ll be talking about these components in my workshop in more detail.

3. What makes a great landing page headline?

First, it should keep the promise made by the ad, link or email that brought the visitor to the page. If you offer 15% off in the ad, the landing page needs to restate the 15% off offer again. This is a great use of the headline.

Second, it should promote the offer with a payoff or promise. If you’re offering a white paper, don’t pick a headline that talks about your product or company. It should pimp the white paper. “The guide that shows you how to deliver great results” might be a good headline template for a white paper.

4. How many calls-to-action should you include on a landing page?

One and a half at most.

5. What makes a great call-to-action?

Tell the visitor they’re going to get something they want or need. Take as much space as you like.

6. How long should landing page copy be?

As long as is needed and no longer. Methodical visitors scroll, and can’t take action until they already know most of the answers. Give it to them.

For quick-deciding visitors, give them the summary at the top, above the fold. But don’t design just for them.

7.  What is the most important piece of advice you can give to marketers that need to improve their conversion rate?

Landing Page Optimization

Check out Brian's new book.

Make time. When a marketer is short on time, they either create messages that they like, or create messages that won’t get pushback from the boss. In both cases, the messages are targeted inwardly, not at the visitor.

Make time to be curious. Give yourself the time to write down the ten things that you think your visitors would prefer.

Make time to be deliberate. Budget for the extra time and creative to try two versions of your ads, pages, and informational offers.

Make time to review. Take the time to look at your analytics, test results, customer feedback, reviews and hate mail. Learn from the data you can and already are collecting.

Make time to educate. Be the “Cheerios Guy” of your company. Brag about your successes. Help your extended team understand the value of the extra work you’re doing. Be the expert.

Make time to learn. Have you read the books? Have you scanned the blogs? Have you taken that course? Have you been to the conferences? A career in marketing is a lifestyle. Choose your lifestyle and live it fully.

Make time.

8. Copy vs. design? What do you think is more important?

Both are important. Copy is the offer, proof, and call to action used on the page. It can be delivered by words, images and video.

Design is the way the placement, font, color, and whitespace guide the eye.

I’ve seen too many “ugly” pages win in tests to believe that a designer has enough tools to overcome a bad offer or copy. We’ve been able to find success with changes to words, headlines and copy.

So, I’m a copy-first kind of scientist. Get the messages right and a competent designer can turn them into a high-converting page or site.

9. What are your favorite elements to test?

My favorite element to test is Gold (commonly known as Revenue). I like to see how much of it we can generate from a given amount of Traffite (common name: Traffic).

Youranium is one of my favorites. It’s radioactive and infects everything on the page. It influences the copy and images you choose on the destination. It can be found by understanding your visitors. It eliminates Melium (an inert gas). It decays into Trustanium.

I also like testing Headlinum, commonly known as “Headline.” It’s a great predictor of who will read the site and who will not.

Formite is used to create forms. Understanding which form fields will scare away unqualified leads and which will scare away qualified leads is very important, and takes some experimentation.

Textosterone is another favorite, though it’s not technically an element. Copy will make or break an ad, landing page or microsite.

10. When starting a testing program, where do you begin?

We always start with what you know. Slap some analytics on the site and see what your visitors can tell you with their actions. Quiz the sales staff to see what triggers a customer to call or visit. Apply what we’ve learned from other’s tests to a site and see if there are opportunities to improve it.

All of this leads to a hypothesis list. When vetted and ranked, it provides a program for optimizing a site to high conversion rates and higher revenue per visit.

BONUS QUESTION! How did you get started in conversion optimization?

What else would a Computer Scientist with Sales and Marketing experience who ran his own company do?

I wrote my own analytics package in 1999-2001 (Open Source Online Marketing).

I learned when running my Web development company that traffic wasn’t enough.

My sales experience taught me how to listen to the customer, so it was natural to apply that to visitors.

My marketing experience didn’t hurt me enough to make a difference

I was heavily influenced by Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenberg, who taught at a unique business school near Austin called The Wizard Academy.

Given all of this, there was no choice but to become a Conversion Scientist.