Think about the last time you created a landing page.
How did you decide what to include?
I'll take a wild guess and say you likely chose what should be on your page based on what you thought your audience needed.
The messaging you thought they'd resonate with. The images you guessed would be attractive. The offer you hoped would be tempting.
Don't get me wrong. Making design and business decisions based on guesswork sometimes pays off—but not always. It's easy to create a landing page and then forget about improving it over time.
The only way to know for sure what combination of messaging, imagery, and offer will bring the most conversions is to test each element on your landing page, and measure what works (and what doesn't).
Landing page testing is essential for every online creator to understand. A well-crafted landing page test gives you a window into what makes your audience tick, helping to boost your conversion rate and get a higher return on your advertising budget. And just like your savings account, the benefits of improving your landing pages continue to compound over time.
Starting out with your first landing page test might sound overwhelming—but I've got your back. Let's dive into the deep end of how testing your landing pages can help grow your online business, and how you can get started running your first test.
What exactly is landing page testing?
Landing page testing (often called split testing or A/B testing) is the process of running experiments to compare two versions of a landing page to find out which variation converts the most visitors.
Every element on a landing page can be tested—from page layout and structure to headlines, body copy, graphics, social proof, form length, and your call to action (CTA). The original version of your landing page is called the control, and the modified version is called the variation.
For most experiments, you'll change a single element on your landing page. For example, you might test your headline by writing a different version, or add a header photo showing your product or a friendly face.
You can test more than one change at a time, but when you're just starting out, it's best to stick to making one change at a time to keep your results consistent.
Once you complete each test, the winning combinations of landing page elements can then be integrated into your original landing page, giving you a permanent conversion boost. That's the real power of landing page testing—by continuously testing and improving each landing page you design, each small change will eventually add up to a dramatic improvement to your bottom line.
3 reasons to test every landing page
Every audience and every product are different, so there's no perfect combination of design and content that converts everyone. Even the best landing pages have opportunities for improvement—for many online creators, making small improvements to your landing pages over time can bring higher conversions and reduced advertising costs.
Here's why you should be testing every landing page:
Higher conversion rates
Improving conversion rates is the main reason most creators and marketers test landing pages. You can make your best guess at which combination of messaging, design, and call to action will convert—but your visitors are ultimately the ones who determine the success of your landing pages.
The only way to be sure of what works is to test your ideas and see how each change affects conversions. As you find which landing page combinations work the best, your improved conversion rate will lead to more clients, more sales, and more revenue for your online business.
Get more value from your advertising budget
For those of you using Facebook ads to promote your business, you're likely already testing multiple variations of ad copy, imagery, and calls to action to find out which ad combination generates the most clicks. Testing your landing pages lets you closely match your ad creative to different variants of your landing pages—often called “ad scent“—to push conversions even higher. This means you can spend less on advertising while still generating maximum results.
Stack improvements to create massive results
The best part about testing landing pages is that you can stack individual improvements to create tremendous conversion gains. To explain what I mean, let's look at the potential improvements from a few case studies:
- 37signals (now Basecamp) added a human image to their landing page and increased signups by 102%
- Performable (bought by HubSpot) changed their CTA button color and improved conversions by 21%
- Earnest added four words (“we value your privacy”) to their signup page and instantly grew signups by 5%
- Truckers Report reduced the length of their forms and grew conversions by 13%
Each of these four examples might not make an enormous difference on their own, but adding them up brings a total potential increase in conversions of 290%. Not bad for four easy changes.
“But Kieran,” I hear you say, “I don't sell reports for truckers or student loans! How can I do this on my landing pages?”
Don't worry, I've got your back—let's take a look at which landing page elements you should test first.
The 5 landing page elements you should test
Every landing page is different, and a test that works for one audience might be a flop with another. There's no way of predicting which changes will have the most significant impact on conversions. There's only one way to be sure of which landing page elements you should test—and that's to test all of them, one by one.
Some landing page elements you should consider testing:
Your headline and copy
Once a visitor hits your landing page, you only have about 15 seconds to grab their attention. You need to be quick—and since your headline is the first thing visitors will see, that makes it the ideal place to begin testing.
Your landing page headlines should immediately engage visitors, communicating what you're offering and promising a clear benefit. You should test whether formal or more personal language works best, direct language versus a catchy phrase, or replace boring words with punchy and exciting language.
Changing the headline to a direct quote from one of Freckle's customers—a quote that more closely reflected the benefits of the product—contributed to a 2.4x increase in conversions.
The same rules apply to body copy as well—the right words can have a dramatic effect on conversions. Many landing pages perform best with shorter copy. Still, long-form landing pages can work wonders—customer support platform Groove redesigned their page to include much more detail, growing conversions by 87%.
Excellent landing page copy addresses all your audiences' pain points and concerns and appeals to their emotional side—experiment with your text and see what works best.
Your imagery and videos
The images and videos you include in your landing pages can make a massive difference to conversions. The right imagery can help attract attention—but too many graphics will distract visitors and potentially decrease your conversions.
So how do you choose the right photo that'll boost your signup rate? When in doubt, stick to human faces. Research has shown that including a friendly face on your landing page helps build trust and a stronger emotional connection with visitors, boosting conversions in the process.
37signals (now Basecamp) took advantage of this fact when redesigning the landing page for their CRM product, Highrise. After trying several variations of their home page, they added a background image of a smiling customer—the new page variation converted 102% more visitors than the original.
Your own landing page tests don't need to be as drastic as Highrise. Try adding a stock image from sites like Unsplash if you don't already have one in your design, or take the opposite approach and test out a text-only version of your page. It's up to you!
There are few things more potent than the words of others in motivating visitors to take action. Adding social proof to your landing pages can help build trust and increase the chances of visitors converting.
CRM tool Pipedrive, for example, includes user reviews, customer testimonials, and trust icons on their landing page:
You can play with adding testimonials, comments, ratings, or other trust icons to your landing pages to see how they affect conversions.
When it comes to your opt-in forms, less is more. You need to make sure you're collecting all the essential information—but every field you ask visitors to fill out increases friction and reduces the chances of them completing the form.
I mean, check out this gem from USPS — only 16 form fields to download a whitepaper:
Test your landing pages by getting rid of unnecessary fields—in most cases, you can get away with only asking for an email address.
Your call to action
The right offer can make or break your landing page conversions—so it's worth taking the time to test different CTAs to find the best combination. In fact, data from A/B testing platform VWO shows that CTAs are by far the most popular test carried out by their users, with 30% of tests involving a call to action.
There are lots of things you can tweak when testing your CTA:
- Design: How does changing the color or size of your CTA button affect conversions?
- Copy: Does your CTA button text reflect the core benefit of your offer?
- Offer: Can you boost conversions by offering a free lead magnet?
PPC agency KlientBoost's offer of a free proposal is a compelling example. Their offer is specific to their target audience, their copy is written in the first person, and the bold color stands out from the page.
Interestingly, KlientBoost also launches their social proof into orbit by including my own name and photo in multiple places on their landing page—few things that capture your attention on a page more than your own name.
Now you have a few ideas on what you can test with your own landing page designs, let's dive into how you can get started with your first test.
How to start testing your landing pages in only 10 minutes
Testing your landing pages and improving your conversions might seem overwhelming if you haven't tried it before – but you don't need to test everything at once.
It's best to start with a single variation of your landing page that changes one page element—I suggest starting with your heading or your CTA. Get comfortable with the process first, then dive into more extensive testing.
Here's how you can get started with your first landing page test:
Step #1: Create your base landing page
Before you can begin testing, you'll need to create your base landing page. If you haven't already designed your landing page, our landing page builder makes it easy to create your first landing page that not only looks great but converts well. And you can build it for free.
Step #2: Choose a tool
When it comes to optimizing your landing pages for conversions, you have two options:
- You can either create each landing page variation yourself and track results manually
- You can use a dedicated conversion rate optimization tool
Specialized CRO tools like Optimizely, VWO, or Google Optimize take the pain out of testing landing pages. You install a small piece of tracking code on your landing page, and the tool will automatically show different variations of your landing page to each visitor based on the parameters you set in the tool. Setting up a CRO tool is too big of a topic for this post, but ConversionXL has a thorough guide on getting started with Google Optimize on their blog.
If you choose to go it alone, you can simply crack open your chosen landing page builder and duplicate your landing page to create your first variation.
Step #3: Launch your first variation
Once you have your control page ready, it's time to create your first variation. Pick which element you'll test first—your headline or CTA are both good places to start—and create a different variation of that element.
Even though you can change everything, stick to only changing a single element for your first test. If you make more than one change to your variation, it can be challenging to know which change had the greatest impact on your conversion rate.
Dedicated CRO tools include simple visual editors for modifying the contents of your page—you can edit text, move elements around, change images, and even hide content with just a few clicks.
You can also configure how your testing tool will determine the “winner” by setting an objective for each test. Since most landing pages will use form completions as the end goal, setting the conversion objective is usually as easy as clicking on your CTA button to choose that element. Most tools will also let you measure other factors, like bounce rate or session duration, as your goal.
If you aren't using a tool, you can use tools like Google Analytics or our own built-in form metrics to measure success.
Step #4: Drive traffic to your landing page variations
Now for the fun part—getting your landing page in front of your audience.
If you're using a dedicated testing tool, you can share the link to your landing page and let the tool take care of the heavy lifting and assign visitors between each variation. Most tools will also let you direct traffic to a specific variation—handy if you're trying to align the messaging on your landing page with a Facebook ad, for example.
If you're testing manually, you'll have a separate URL for each landing page variation, which you'll need to promote separately.
Step #5: Sit back and wait
Once you've launched your test, you'll need to let your test run for enough time to determine the winner.
Waiting isn't easy—running an effective landing page test requires patience.
(Pro tip: while you're waiting, you can work on improving your email marketing funnels!)
The amount of time to run a test depends on three main factors:
- The number of variations you're testing
- The amount of traffic you drive to your landing page
- Your landing page conversion rate
Since you only have one variation, you can ignore the first factor for now, and focus on traffic—the more visitors to your page, the faster your test will run. Likewise, the more visitors convert, the faster you'll be able to detect changes in your conversion rate.
Let's take a look at an example, using AB Tasty's handy sample size calculator. If your landing page converts 5% of visitors, you'd need roughly 30,000 visitors per landing page variation to run an effective test. If your landing page receives 5,000 visitors per day, and you're testing two variations, you'll need to let your test run for 12 days to confidently predict a winner.
For the above example, you'd need to run your landing page test for 12 days. Image via AB Tasty
30,000 visitors may sound like a lot—but it's important to resist the temptation to end the test early by picking a winner yourself. The results could end up being a statistical anomaly, and you may not get an accurate result. If your tests are taking too long, try testing fewer variations next time, or work on finding creative ways to drive more traffic to your landing page.
Step #6: Decide the winner and implement the results
Your landing page test is complete—now it's time to determine which variation was victorious. If you're using a dedicated testing tool, the tool should automatically calculate which variation had more conversions. Otherwise, you'll need to dive into your landing page metrics to grab the number of visitors and conversions for each variation and plug them into a statistical significance calculator like this one from VWO to determine whether your results can be trusted.
If your testing results show an increase in conversions, that's awesome—go ahead and implement the change you made in the winning variation on your original landing page. Even if it seems faster, don't continue relying on your testing tool to permanently update your landing pages, since that can lead to technical difficulties down the road.
Even if your test doesn't show a positive result, don't worry—not every test will lift your conversion rate (some might even make it go down!). No matter the result, every landing page test gives you more information about how to craft a high converting page for your audience and the product or service you're offering.
Finally, choose a new variation to test, and rinse and repeat the entire process to continue improving your conversions. Think of landing page testing like a snowball. Getting things started can sometimes feel difficult—but once you've got the ball rolling, there's no stopping you. There will always be new things to test, and new opportunities to grow your business.
Start testing your landing pages today
Squeezing more conversions out of your landing pages might feel overwhelming—but it doesn't have to be complicated.
Ultimately, the key to maximizing your landing page conversions comes down to
understanding your audience. The right landing page tests give you a window into your audience's needs, desires, and motivations, making it a cinch to match your messaging, imagery, and offer to what they want most.
Now, it's time to stop guessing and relying on your gut, and start getting more from your landing pages. Sign up for ConvertKit's free landing page plan to create your first landing pages.