Part 9: The Landing Page Optimization & A/B Testing Process

Today we’re going to dig into the most fun, most satisfying part of course – testing! Believe me, after you’ve run your first successful test you’ll be hooked.

Every day that you don’t have a test running is an opportunity missed.

Today’s Course Outline

The landing page optimization process consistes of 6 steps:

  1. Define your goals and success metrics
  2. Build your first landing page
  3. Drive traffic to your page
  4. Gather insight into page performance
  5. Create a test hypothesis
  6. A/B test your hypothesis

Having a process for Landing Page Optimization (LPO) is the difference between making informed testing choices vs. coming up with random ideas.

The diagram below shows the 6 steps of the LPO process, which includes the preparation stages where you set goals, build your page and start driving traffic to your page. This is followed by a constant feedback loop where insight is gathered to fuel A/B testing hypotheses (a statement of what to test).

the landing page optimization process

1. Define your goals and success metrics

Conversion expert Peep Laja from ConversionXL.com recommends a 4-pronged strategy for defining your goals and success metrics:

Landing page optimization business goals process

Step 1: Define your business objectives

Peep says that this is the answer to the question: “Why does your landing page exist?”

Example: A business objective for an online flower store is to “Increase our sales by receiving online orders for our bouquets.”

Step 2: Define your landing page goals

Goals come from your business objectives and are mostly strategic in nature. So if we were to continue with the business objective example of increasing our bouquet sales, we would have to:

  1. Do x – Add better product images
  2. Increase y – Increase clickthrough rates
  3. Reduce z – Reduce our shopping cart abandonment rate

Step 3: Define your key performance indicators (KPIs)

A KPI is a metric (numbers) that’s connected to your objectives.

“A key performance indicator (KPI) is a metric that helps you understand how you are doing against your objectives.”
– Avinash Kaushik

For example: Our flower store’s business objective is to sell bouquets. Our KPI could be number of bouquets sold online.

Step 4: Define your target metrics

For your KPIs to mean something for you, they need target metrics. Our flower store sold 57 bouquets last month. For our imaginary flower store, we can define a monthly target of 175 bouquets sold.

Using Peep’s framework, you insure that the work you will be doing on your landing pages is relevant to your business goals.

TAKE AWAY
Defining your goals will guide the strategy behind your choices of messaging and imagery on your landing page. Your success metrics will clarify what you’re trying to achieve with your optimization and a/b testing.

2. Build your first landing page

Once you have your goals defined, you can start building your first landing page.

We’ve already discussed how to create certain aspects of your content, especially for the written parts of your page, but how do you piece it all together and ensure that your landing page is laser focused on a single campaign objective?

To do this, we’re going to share a process for content collection, creation and construction.

The landing page creation process

The key to creating a focused landing page is to leverage a concept known as congruent page design.

Congruent landing page design

Congruent design is the idea of aligning every element on your page so that they work together to communicate your goal as a single collective voice.

Our process will follow these tasks:

  1. Write the goal of your landing page on a piece of paper
  2. Print out and cut out the pieces of the landing page elements diagram below (choose a click-through or lead gen page)
  3. Order the elements by importance to your campaign to create a communication hierarchy
  4. Now flip the bits of paper over and write copy for each element on the back (write a description for any graphic/video elements)
  5. Read out loud what you have written, in the order you have laid them out
  6. If any element doesn’t fully support your goal, you know it needs to be rewritten. If any element feels out of order, you know it needs to be moved.

Lead gen landing page elements cut-out

To help you construct your lead gen landing page, print out the following diagram and cut it into pieces.

The anatomy of a lead gen landing page

Click-through landing page elements cut-out

To help you construct your click-through landing page, print out the following diagram and cut it into pieces.

The anatomy of a click through landing page

You are now ready to build your first landing page. (In whatever tool you are using as a landing page builder).

TAKE AWAY
When building your landing page, make sure every element of the page is working towards your goal. Remember to read your copy and media descriptions out loud to uncover areas for improvement.

3. Drive traffic to your page

This is a question that everyone asks – “How do I drive traffic to my landing page?”

The short answer is ‘marketing’. You need to promote your new page in the same way you would promote your company. If you don’t have a social media following or email list to contact, the fastest way to drive traffic to your landing page is by using cost-effective paid advertising like Google AdWords, Facebook ads or LinkedIn ads.

4. Gather insight into page performance

Once you’ve been driving enough traffic to your first page to see it’s conversion rate, you will want to start gathering feedback so you can begin the optimization process! Feedback can either come from users, or from colleagues.

User Feedback

Gathering user feedback is one of the most powerful steps in forming a hypothesis and testing new ideas. IT doesn’t get much better than potential customers telling you how to sell to them.

User feedback is pure gold when deciding what landing page elements to A/B test.

Inline Surveys

Get feedback from your customers at the most important point of the conversion funnel. Adding a tool like Qualaroo to your landing page allows your prospect to tell you how to improve your marketing messaging.

Live Chat

People have a natural degree of anxiety about finding businesses they trust on the web. There are a variety of methods that companies use on their website to minimize the anxiety, keeping their prospects in a state of mind where they can be converted. Live chat empowers you to answer questions prospects have, breaking down the psychological barriers to conversion. A live chat tool that many use is Olark.

Internal Company Feedback

You can also get feedback from others in your company (ideally those who don’t normally see your marketing landing pages).

5-second-test

The 5-Second Test

The 5-second test will test your headline to see if your value proposition is clear. A prospect should be able to understand your message within the 5 seconds it would take for them to make a decision to stay or leave.

How to run the test

Sit a person in front of a blank computer screen, then show your landing page to them for 5 seconds, after which time, take the page away. Then ask a simple question:

“What was that page about?”

If your headline is clear and concise enough, they’ll be able to explain the page’s purpose without having to read the extra information on the page. If not, revisit the test until your landing page passes.

If you want to run this test online, you can use a service called FiveSecondTest.com which lets you put your page in front of random subjects.

TAKE AWAY
Your target customers are the best source of insight for what to test.

5. Create a test hypothesis

A hypothesis is a statement of what you are going to test and your theory behind why it will be a success. It is designed to be proven or disproven when running your A/B test. It should be created based on the insight you have gathered and be targeted at improving the KPI you defined earlier in the process.

Testing and optimization research laboratory Marketing Experiments outlines a clever way to establish an effective testing hypothesis, based around three things:

  1. The presumed problem
  2. The proposed solution
  3. The anticipated result

You can use these to construct your hypothesis using the following formula:

Changing what your analysis indicates is the problem into what change you think will solve the problem will affect your key performance indicator is this way.

An example process for creating a test hypothesis

If you remember back to the KPI we defined for our fictitious flower store: “the number of bouquets sold online”, we can start to complete the hypothesis statement.

The presumed problem

Your online surveys have identified that the product images are too small to allow shoppers to get a real sense of how the bouquet will look in real life.

The proposed solution

Make the product images bigger with multiple angles.

The anticipated result

Shoppers will be able to see what they are getting more easily, leading to more online purchases.

Combining these within the hypothesis formula could lead to:

Changing the size and number of product images into something that allows shoppers to get a more accurate sense of how they will look like in real life when delivered will increase the number of flowers sold in the online store.

Now you can see a clear pathway to what you should be testing and your expected result.

TAKE AWAY
Taking the time to write a hypothesis allows you to reconnect the purpose of your page with your goals and KPIs. You can use a simple formula to create your hypothesis, which starts with identifying your problems through research.

6. A/B test your hypothesis

So you’ve got a landing page built, you’ve done your research to identify some problems, and you’ve written a hypothesis for how to optimize your page. The next step is for you to create a new page variant so you can implement your ideas.

An example A/B test

To illustrate a specific example, let’s return to the flower store and create a new test page. As you can see from the landing pages below:

  • The original (current champion) page has a small photo of the bouquet.
  • The new (challenger) page has an enlarged photo, along with instructions to click to enlarge, and a series of extra photos taken from different angles.

flower-store-a-th

flower-store-b-th

 
You now have a new page design created based on your test hypothesis, to test against the original page in your first A/B test experiment.

Other examples of landing page elements to test

There are a number of page elements you can change on your landing page for an A/B test, and many ways in which to change them. Below are a few of the more common approaches based on the page element in question:

  • Main headline
    • Promote different benefits based on information gleaned from user research and customer testimonials
  • Hero shot
    • Different photos – we recommend trying a photo of someone using your product in context
    • Video vs. photo
  • Call-to-action
    • Use the 8 guidelines of effective button design (from part 3 of the course: Call-to-Action design) to create a different variation
  • Forms
    • Fewer fields
    • Forms spread out over multiple pages
  • Page copy length
    • In-depth (long) vs. concise (short)

Some testing guidelines

In order to get definitive results from a test, you need to ensure it’s free of irrelevant data and that you’re using a large enough sample size. A test is considered clean if you’ve followed the guidelines below:

  • Each page variant should get at least 100 conversions without introducing any changes
  • The test has run for at least a week to account for different daily behaviors
  • Statistical significance should reached at least 95%, removing the potential that your results are based on chance

    Note: Unbounce and other testing tools will calculate statistical significance for you.

Now it’s time to have some fun. Once you kick off a test, you’ll often find yourself obsessively checking in on the stats. Sometimes you can get several people creating their own variants to battle against one another. It’s a great way to learn about your visitors and give people a sense of being involved in making the company being more successful. Just keep the guidelines in mind.

TAKE AWAY
Always use your hypothesis to guide your choice of page elements to test.

It’s important to repeat the process

There’s a natural feedback loop from gathering insight to running a test. Testing is a process that should never stop. Why? In simple terms, every page can perform better. You’re also not going to get it right every time. It’s important not to give up – always be testing.

Let’s test!

Think you know what your customers want? Think again. Gather feedback and form a test hypothesis before making any assumptions.

Remember to follow along with a free Unbounce landing page account

You probably already have a free Unbounce account by now to build your landing pages. If not, you can open a free Unbounce account (60 seconds to sign up – no credit card required). This will let you create landing pages for the examples we use throughout the course.

Watch this video to learn how to optimize your landing page though A/B testing

Not many marketers know how to do what you just learned!