I often challenge my online marketing clients with a simple proposition: do one landing page test a month for twelve months and I guarantee that you’ll see a 20% increase in your conversion rate. Note that I don’t tell clients to do a specific test or work on a particularly important part of their conversion funnel – I just tell them to run the tests and they’ll eventually see positive results.
Do I really expect all clients to see a 20% lift in conversion rate – of course not. People will inevitably test elements of a page that don’t impact conversion rate, or use inexperienced designers, or not give the tests enough time to determine statistical significance. That said, as a general rule, if you create a culture of landing page testing at your company, you will eventually see positive results for your business.
So assuming you want to start “institutionalizing” landing page testing in your company, how should you get started? Fortunately there are dozens of books and Web sites dedicated to LPO to give you a head start. There are three LPO pros that I’ve followed for many years that I think are worth discussing. After you learn about each of these experts’ techniques, I’ll give you a hint as to which approach I think it truly the most optimal process.
Tim Ash – Predictive Heat Maps
Tim Ash is the founder of SiteTuners.com (an LPO agency), AttentionWizard.com (LPO technology), an author on LPO, and the founder of Conversion Conference (conversioncon.com). In other words, he’s a pretty busy guy!
What I want to focus on in this article is his Attention Wizard technology. Attention Wizard creates simulated heat maps that show you how an average user is likely to engage with your landing page. As noted on the Web site:
“The computer model used to generate Attention Wizard heatmaps is a composition of several algorithms from neuro-science studies of Natural Vision Processing, Computational Attention, eye-tracking sessions, perception and cognition of humans. The model seeks to answer the simple question: “What people are looking at?”
Pretty cool stuff, and definitely beyond my little brain’s ability to build myself. If you put your Web site through the Attention Wizard system, you’ll get an output that looks something like this:
The great thing about this technology is that it gets you super-quick results at a very reasonable price, especially when compared to using actually eye-tracking software and waiting weeks to get enough data to be significant.
This sort of landing page testing is basically a type of predictive analytics – based on reams of algorithmic data gathered from other sites, the system attempts to predict how people will interact with your site. You can then use this data to guide your LPO testing priorities.
Chris Goward – A Simple Model for Consistent LPO Success
Chris Goward is the founder of Wider Funnel, an LPO agency in Vancouver, CA. Like Tim Ash, he’s also published a book (with the awesome title, “You Should Test That”) and is a frequent LPO speaker. Chris developed a cool LPO framework he calls the “L.I.F.T. Model”, which is graphically represented here:
What I like about this model is its simplicity – avoid anxiety and distraction on your landing page, create a strong value proposition that is clear and relevant to the user, and use urgency to close the sale. Obviously, I’m not doing justice to the richness of this model in this article, but I’ve used these basic tenants time and time again to evaluate and improve landing page performance. For example, probably the #1 mistake I see on landing pages is a page with dozens of links to pages irrelevant to the purchase at hand (things like “customer login”, “investor relations”) – these are classic “distractions” that Goward calls out with his methodology. Like Tim Ash’s Attention Wizard, you can use the L.I.F.T. model as a starting point for your LPO testing and hopefully avoid going down too many dead ends.
Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenberg – Personas FTW!
The Eisenberg brothers are true LPO old-timers, having been in the space at least as long as I’ve been an online marketing (+15 years!). They’ve written a slew of books (my favorite of them all is “Waiting for Your Cat to Bark!) and will also be found keynoting LPO events.
The Eisenbergs introduced me to the notion of “personas” online. In other words, different pages of your Web site are going to be effective to different types of people. A busy mom might want to make a decision really quickly and thus want a page with one big call to action and few choices. A nerdy computer engineer, on the other hand, might want to visit a page with oodles of product manuals available for download and a long video outlining the pros and cons of your product. Understanding these different personas can enable you to build landing pages that speak to relevant audiences and hence improve conversion rates.
Which One Is Best? The Reveal!
In just a few paragraphs, we’ve looked at ideas from incredibly talented LPO experts. Virtual heat maps, repeatable testing elements, persona identification – if you had all the time in the world to test LPO, you could apply all of these and drive amazing results. Of course, you don’t have the time nor the budget to do everything, so you’ve got to start somewhere.
So which approach should you choose? The answer is – like my bet about 20% growth from repeated landing page testing – it doesn’t matter! The most important thing is to find a methodology that works for you and just start applying it. The number one problem I’ve seen in LPO is a lack of commitment to testing. Sometimes this is due to an ornery engineering team unwilling to upload new versions of a Web site, other times its due to the “HIPPO” (highest paid person’s opinion) who believes that no amount of testing can trump his or her intuitive knowledge of what customers want. Whatever the reason, to paraphrase Wayne Gretzky, you’ll fail every landing page test you never start (he said “I missed every shot I never took”).
For this reason, I recommend you choose an LPO methodology you like and just get going. It could be one of the ones I discussed in this article, or it could be an approach from one of the many other LPO experts writing on the subject. Don’t spend too much time, however, deciding on the perfect test and the perfect theory to use to craft your test. Just get started!