Two Practical Landing Page Tips That Will Save You Money


Posted: February 6, 2008 | Landing Page, Search Engine Marketing

Let me tell you a story about how I used two easy landing page optimization tips to reduce my cost per conversion by $10.67 and improve my quality score at the same time.

Shorter Forms Reduced Cost Per Conversion by $10.67

As you know, Marketo provides on-demand marketing software including lead management and landing page optimization. One of my jobs as VP Marketing is to generate qualified leads for the sales team by finding prospects using Google AdWords (as well as other channels) and nurturing them until they are qualified leads. In this sense, my job is similar to that of any other business-to-business marketer.

I have a variety of ad groups, but let’s focus on the one that talks about Marketo’s ability to create landing pages with no code or IT involvement (a feature of our lead management solution). What’s special about this ad group is that I’m using Marketo’s landing page testing capabilities to send the clicks to one of three different landing pages. Here’s a screenshot of one of the three:

landing page software

The only difference between the three pages is the form. As we’ve all heard before, simple forms convert better, but the question is, how much better? Is the extra information worth the reduced conversion rate? Are certain types of information more costly in terms of conversion rate? I decided to use landing page testing to find out.

First, I had to determine how many test versions I could have. As I wrote in Landing Page Testing: How Much Is Too Much?, it’s easy to create tests that are too complicated to achieve statistical significance in a timely fashion. So, I used Marketo’s Landing Page Test Calculator to calculate that this ad group could support three test versions in the time I wanted to run the test.

Next, I used Marketo to create three different forms, appropriately named “short form” with five fields, “medium form” with seven fields, and “long form” with nine fields, and used these on three different versions of my landing page.

landing page software

Finally, I let the system automatically rotate between the three versions and report the results in terms of conversions. Here’s what I found:

  • Short Form: Conversion rate 13.4%, cost per conversion $31.24.
  • Medium Form: Conversion rate 12.0%, cost per conversion $34.94.
  • Long Form: Conversion rate 10.0%, cost per conversion $41.90.

The difference in the cost per conversion between the short and medium forms is $3.70, between the medium and long forms is $6.96, and between the short and long forms is $10.67. This means that each additional piece of information costs $1.85, and that asking for a phone number (the most invasive of all the fields) costs more than $5.00. At these prices, the conclusion was obvious: keep only the short form and turn off the other versions.

As much as my sales team and I would like that information, it is not worth paying for these extra fields. Fortunately, this type of information is available from a variety of data cleansing and augmentation vendors, usually for as little as $1.00 for all the information you need.

Landing Page Metadata Improved Quality Score

Another question I wanted to test was “What impact does the metadata of the landing page have on determining quality score”? To figure this out, I used my “lead management” ad group. To begin, I created a targeted ad and landing page that focused on the concept of lead management and offered a free lead management eBook. A sample text ad was:

Free Lead Management Tips
10 Tips to Optimize Sales Leads
Download Marketo’s free eBook now.

Here’s what the landing page looked like:

lead management best practices

Clearly, this page is all about lead management, but I left the page metadata (e.g. title, keywords, and description tags) generic. When this ad group was brand new, Google assigned the following quality scores:

lead management quality score before

Next, I updated the page metadata (e.g. set the title tag to “Lead Management Best Practices”) but did not change any other element of the ad group or landing page. And you know what? It turns out just this small change had a real impact on the quality scores:

lead management quality score after

For most words, the minimum bids went from $0.15 or $0.20 down to $0.10. Interesting, the only word that didn’t get a quality score improvement was “prospect management”, which makes sense since I didn’t include that term in the title or description tags for the page. Perhaps that term would work better in its own ad group.

The implication of this is that each ad group should have its own landing page, specifically targeted to the keywords in that ad group. Even if the content on the page is the same or similar, just tweaking the metadata can have a positive impact on quality score.

Note: You can read a longer version of this in my recent article at Search Engine Land.

Sponsored by: Get a free trial of Marketo Lead Management!  Apply now at

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  • Lisa

    Thanks for the useful information!
    Web form capture is such a fantastic way to collect new leads.
    In fact, a recent MIT study shows that your chances of connecting with a lead drops dramatically after the first 5 minutes and you may as well not bother after the first 24 hours. (read more about it at )

  • Tim Ash

    Hi Jon,
    You are absolutely right. During the hundreds of landing page optimization engagements that we have run at, we have seen consistent improvement in conversion with shorter forms.
    I write about this in my new Landing Page Optimization Book available from John Wiley & Sons Press (
    You should also check out the EngineReady case study on our site. The centerpiece of the winning page was a much simpler form, and the resulting conversion increase was over 50%, resulting in a $48,000,000 increase in revenue from a single PPC campaign!
    Warmest Regards,
    Tim Ash – President –

  • Craig Klein

    Great advice!
    Form length is a cycle – shorten for volume, then lengthen to improve quality and back and forth.
    Very nice concept on the metadata!

  • Pixy

    This article is great, thank you very much for the tips you share! I’m a little surprised that metadata has such an impact on quality scores.

  • Pixy

    This article is great, thank you very much for the tips you share! I’m a little surprised that metadata has such an impact on quality scores.

  • Frank

    Great article. One question on LPs like you show here.
    This is intended to drive them to fill out the form, but what about the customer who does not want to do that, but just wants to read more information on your product?
    Did you decide that you only wanted qualified leads – ones who fill out the form – and those who didn’t, you accepted would go away.
    I didn’t see any explicit link for them, although there were the small links at the bottom of the page which I guess they might find.
    I noticed a “Home” link at the bottom of the page.
    I know you don’t want leakage on the page, but I’m interested in handling those who want information, but don’t want to fill out a form.

  • Luis

    The web is a multi-lingual environment.
    By translating your landing page and conversion tunnel, you are making your company product and services accessible to customers around the globe.
    1. Over 65% of Internet users speak a native language other than English
    2. People are three times more likely to buy a product available to them in their native language
    3. Google provides Multilingual Platforms and crawls Web Pages in more than 30 Languages
    4. Online foreign language markets are growing at a faster pace than the English speaking ones.
    5. More than 20% of Americans Browse and Search in the Internet using Non-English Languages

  • Gidseo

    Thank you for some very useful info on all points – size of form and meta title effect on PPC.

  • Sean O’Donovan

    Really interesting study. however I end up with 2 questions unanswered:
    1. What would happen to the short form conversions if you just made 2 fields mandatory mandatory (first name email) vs short formwith all 5 fields mandatory. i.e. is it worth going for even less data to really up the conversions and then capture the rest of the contact info with second step form or simply via a back end nurturing program
    2. The suppressed response in the long form may have been as much to do with 9 fields, as one of them being a phone number field. So I would like to see a further test of the short form. For instance, what happens if you test the current short form vs the same short form with the job title replaced with phone number. If the response is suppressed significantly then it is the pohone number that’s the issue. If it’s not then we could conclude that it was the longer form that was the real issue in terms of response suppression vs the phone #

  • Pingback: User Testimonial: Why Web Forms Don’t Convert()

Jon (@jonmiller) is a VP and co-founder at Marketo. He is the author of multiple Definitive Guides including Marketing Automation, Engaging Email Marketing, and Marketing Metrics & Analytics. In 2010, The CMO Institute named Jon a Top 10 CMO for companies under $250 million revenue. Jon holds a bachelor’s degree in physics from Harvard College and has an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

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