This will be the first installment of a mini-series of articles on split testing your landing pages. I’ll kind of throw these posts in over time around other posts, so don’t expect them all in a row.
Ok, so we all know how optimization is key, blah blah blah. You’ve heard it a million times before…A/B split testing landing pages is critical for success and optimizing profitability. Rather than babble philosophically about the Why, the practical and useful information is the What. So What exactly should you be split testing? A lot of the things I’ll go over may be obvious to some, but maybe this post will provoke some creative thinking in other areas you can split test on your own pages.
Topics are always easier to explain when examples are provided, so I’m going to use one of my old landing pages to explain split testing. I’m going to use one of my many dating landing pages that targeted “chat room” type keywords (this used to be a huge niche before all advertisers decided the quality was dreadful).
And quickly before the haters come in,
Back to the show, here’s a smaller screenshot of the page with the areas I’m going to talk about :
Note: you can already see that this page is slightly different than the one in the link. This I just grabbed from the source PSD and shows the original button that was green instead of purple. The purple button won the split test battle.
Note #2: This landing page isn’t perfect by any means, I designed it myself and it never really got out of the “prelim” stages because I ended up just running a Mate1 host&post instead.
Whoa, for being a pretty simple and straightforward landing page, you can see pretty much everything on the page is split testable. Proper optimization goes a bit deeper than just A/B testing the color of a button. Now I’m going to break down each part, and how it can be split tested.
#1 – The Header
So you can see we went with a header that’s going to blend with the Zoosk affiliate offer. They use that same blue, and you can see I pulled their logo to increase the relevance and connection between the landing page and the actual offer. On the right hand side is what we want to split test here, that header text. This very well may be the first thing users read when they hit the page (heat maps would show), so we want it to be extremely relevant to the ad they just clicked. You can also see I was geo-targeting the headline so it would read whatever state they’re in. Here are a few different variations I would split test :
1. 5,934 Singles Chatting in New York (control)
2. Nothing (leave the area blank)
3. 5,934 New York Profiles to Browse
4. 5,934 Singles Chatting Now
5. 5,934 Singes in Chat Rooms
6. continue to chat rooms >> (make clickable link)
You can pretty much come up with a million and one variations and ways to word it, which is the beauty of optimization. No matter how profitable or amazing your page is, there’s always a way to squeeze just a little bit more out of it.
#2 – Main Headline
If the header headline isn’t the first thing a visitor will read, the page headline probably is what they looked at instead. So just like with #1, we want this to be relevant to the ad they clicked. Here are some variations of this :
Those are just a few examples. The actual text isn’t the only thing you should be testing – colors are huge and can drastically affect the performance of your page.
#3 – The Button
The big button very may well be the most important part of this landing page. Therefore, it’s something you want to pay extra attention to when split testing. When split testing a large call to action button, keep in mind the many variations you can make to it :
- styling (gradient, drop shadow, glow, etc)
Here are a few examples using the button on the Zoosk page :
For the examples I just kind of did a bunch of random sampling. When you’re actually going to split test all of these elements, for the most part you should do them individually, and in order of prominence. For these buttons, I’d split test in this order :
#4 – Text Section
With simple landing pages like these it’s generally wise to at least have some content there for people to read. A lot of the visitors are just going to disregard this section and just click the big button when they see it, but not everyone will do this. Rather than spend an hour creating a bunch of different examples, I’ll just type some different possible variations out.
1) Remove the section. Maybe it will convert better with just a button and image? You never know until you test it.
2) Change the bullet points. You can change the order, change the bullet image, or highlight different points.
3) Replace it with a “New Members” section. Find a couple snazzy mug shots, give them a name and short bio, geo-target the location, and have a small “Chat Now” button to the right of each member.
4) Replace it with a “Current Stats” text box. List things like the number of photos uploaded, number of videos, number of chatrooms, number of active chatters, etc.
#5 – The Small Button
Variations for this button will be pretty similar to the large button, so no use in going too far in-depth about it. When you’re split testing and change the big button from say green to purple, don’t always change the little button color with the big button. A green big button and red little button may have a higher CTR than a green big button and green little button. Multi-variate testing is key.
#6 – Photo Button
Couple elements we can split test here: the color, text, and font. Some possible text alternates :
- Chat Now!
- View Profile!
- Send Message!
- Free Chatting!
Something like the font is an element that probably is pretty useless to split test in this scenario. Chances are the font type really isn’t going to make any difference on the overall CTR of the page, but once again you never know until you test and confirm that. When setting up your first multi-variate experiment though, only test the most important elements (the main headline, call to action, picture, and content).
#7 – Picture
The picture is a pretty big element on the page. I’d actually say this is the first thing your visitor is going to see, so split testing it is extremely important. This is a dating offer we’re talking about here, so guys are going to want to see someone sexy. You can see that the actual example webpage and screen shot have different pictures, those were a couple that I tested.
The actual picture isn’t the only thing we can split test here either, we can test different photo frames as well. Here’s a couple examples :
#8 – Photo Text
The frame and picture aren’t the only things we can test here, you can test different texts out like :
- Add Friend!
- Send Message >>
- Chat Now >>
- Chat this user >>
Again, this is a smaller detail, but it might be something that catches their attention.
#9 – Facebook Connect
Footers are always nice to kind of close a page off and complete it. In addition to having a regular lead-gen page, Zoosk also has a Facebook install that pays out. So I took the footer space and figured I’d use it for that on the chance that a person may see Facebook as an option they want to explore.
As far as split testing this section goes, maybe you could build out that area more or draw more attention to it. It’s not something I split tested though just because it’s really the least important part of the page.
Extra Notes & Things to Talk About
The examples above are all just for that specific and simple landing page. While most simple landing pages have very common elements (big button, image, content area, header), there may me more or less things to test on your page. This post was meant to get the creative juices flowing in your brain and maybe help you realize that split testing goes beyond just changing a few colors around. Here are some other things that you may want to split test on your own pages :
- The background. In our example we wanted to blend with the offer, so there wasn’t much we could do with the background. In many other instances, the background is something that can and should be manipulated. Try different flat colors, gradients, patterns, and dynamic images to see which color theme converts best.
- The domain and logo. This is something that may make a difference to your visitors. A site may perform better with a .org domain instead of .com, because the certain audience you’re targeting may be expecting something really credible, like an organization.
- Page arrangement. Should the content be on the left side and button be on the right side? Or should the content be on the left side and button on the right side? All things to think about and test.
- Complexity. This is something we briefly talked about earlier. Build your page exactly how you want it and save it. Then, at the bottom add in a horizontal divider and underneath that add more content. Pop in a graph, another image, and another content paragraph. Your visitors may want more to read on your landing page before moving on. On the flipside, sometimes brutal simplicity is what works. Test it.
Again, a lot of these things are obvious and this is not the end-all guide for split testing. But, you may find that taking a little bit of a deeper look into your own pages can yield some surprising results. We may test out all 9 elements on the Zoosk page and find out one thing that made a big difference in CTR was the Photo Text (#8). The photo button, photo frame, heading text, and content box may make no difference. But it was worth testing everything out to find that one small element made a big difference. I’m not talking out of my ass here either, you’d be surprised at how much just wording a line of text here or there can make a difference. A 1% increase in CTR over hundreds of thousands of impressions can make a big difference in your long-term profit.
The next article in this mini-series will focus on The How. We know a bunch of things to split test, but how do we best do it?