How a few small landing page tweaks created five times the conversions

aka; Why you should be obsessed with testing.

I love conversion rate optimisation. There, I said it. As a traditionally trained designer, coupled with a slight maths geek bent, the work of how to greatly increase responses due to minor changes in copy and layout really appeals to me. I’d go so far as saying it’s exciting.

In my digital marketing agency, we work on similar experiments for our clients, however due to privacy, I’m usually unable to share. This time, however, I’m sharing my various CRO (Conversion Rate Optimisation) experiments and the resulting outcomes that I recently found with our own freshly launched start-up product, 6Q.

Traffic don’t mean sh*t, unless it converts. — Patima

Experiment 1

I’ll start by sharing with you the landing page design we started with (which, as a designer, is my favourite visually of all these tests). The screen below was one of a series of pages we created (we made 9 in all) which use variations of headlines and copy to target specific search keywords.

Experiment 1, Variant A (longer, visual page)

The objective of these pages is to draw the visitor to complete the form, and start a free 25 day trial of our app. Once they complete the form, they get sent to a thank you page and we send a welcome email, and walk them through the next steps.

To help them make the decision to hand over their personal details (not a light decision, ever), we created a four step image, showing how our employment engagement surveys work in a nutshell, as well as a few of our features, and a couple of logos of some of the media which we’ve recently been featured in, to give our start-up some credibility.

Using Google AdWords, we drove a few hundred visitors to these pages, and analysed which ones attracted the most traffic and which ones converted.

The result of our first tests was less than ideal. We discovered that only 5% of visitors were engaged enough to complete the free trial form (what we treated as a ‘conversion’). This response rate was not great, however it provided us with a great baseline for the next experiment iterations.

At roughly $2 per visitor, a 5% conversion rate means that we were paying around $40 for someone to sign up to our free trial.

Many people unfortunately stop at this point, and just accept a measly 5% conversion rate as ‘normal’, and spend their budgets driving visitors to their landing page. That is definitely not what you should be doing though. You should try making some minor changes, and then based on conversion rates, continue to experiment in order to maximise conversions.

This is what I continued to do.

Experiment 2

Instead of creating landing pages with large scale differences between them, I decided to tweak the headlines first. The reasoning is that I wanted to be clear on what effect every element of the page would have on our conversion rate.

This time, I opted for a far simpler design, moving the free trial form to near the top of the screen (also known as ‘above the fold’) and turning that unwieldy paragraph into a few key dot points.

Experiment 2, Variant A (Headline)

There were three variants for Experiment 2. All three were identical, except for the headline copy. The first two variations had exactly the same headline copy, except for one word;

Measure your employee engagement super-fast.

Improve your employee engagement super-fast.

The third headline copy was changed to be far more emotive. This headline had a negative connotation to it (resignations) and read ‘Reduce resignations & increase team morale.’ as you see in the next image.

Experiment 2, Variant C (emotive headline)

Once again, I drove a small pay-per-click audience, using the exact same advertising and PPC campaign criteria, in order to keep that variable unchanged (different visitor acquisition methods often attract visitors with different intentions).

Would you like to take a guess what the results were? Go on, guess.

In speaking to a number of people, it seems that not many people would guess correctly.

Variation A (the ‘Measure’ headline) won, with a 15% conversion rate.

Variation B (the ‘Improve’ headline) came second, with 11.8% of visitors completing the free trial form.

Variation C (the ‘Resignations’ headline) came last, at only 5.6% (which was still an improvement over our first experiment).

I could sit back and celebrate now, knowing I’d lifted response rates from 5% to three times as many, with 15%. That’s not me though; once I start testing it can become quite an obsession.

Experiment 3

The two variations for our third experiment were intentionally kept quite similar to each other; I kept the winning ‘Measure’ headline from the last experiment, and this time I added a paragraph below the feature dot points, which helped outline some of the benefits of 6Q, as well as credibility by the fact it has users in more than 35 countries, at last count.

The only difference between the two variants this time, was what I used in the page background.

Experiment 3, Variant A (photo background)

Variant A (above) had a photo of someone actually using our system in the background. This is far more realistic than showing a screen capture.

Variant B (below), we stuck to the boring prison-wall grey colour as the background, and kept the product screen shot below the copy and form, as per our previous experiment.

Experiment 3, Variant B (grey background)

The results? Go ahead, and take another guess before reading any further.

So I knew that the wonderfully lit image of the person actually using our product was far more visually engaging than a static, flat screen grab, and as a result I expected to see a slight lift in response rate.

I didn’t expect the rates to be so different, however.

Variation A (photo background, no screen grab) enjoyed a conversion rate of a whopping 26.4%.

Variation B (grey background, with screen grab) on the other hand, had the poor response rate of 4%.

In the $2 per visitor terms that I stated at the beginning of this article, a free trial user now costs us $7.57 to attract, which is way better than the $40 per user from our first landing page!

In other terms, let’s say we wanted to drive PPC audience to gain 500 new free trial users. Using our original landing page, this would have cost us $20,000. The difference in conversions though to our latest page means that now those same 500 users would only cost $3,785.

Which outcome would you prefer?

Conclusion

Please be aware that whilst these experiments worked for me (converting visitors to free trial users of a b2b SaaS product with a distinct audience), they may not work for you and your product’s target audience; the moral of this article is test, test and continue to test.

Test, test and continue to test. Test everything and continue to learn.

This landing page campaign is far from over; I have continued to test elements of our landing page, and work on optimising the pages even further, and have shared the results of these experiments in my latest post, My landing page conversion experiments continued.

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