What Fascinates Us About Landing Page Tests?

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Posted: March 21, 2011 | Testing and Optimization

Marketers love looking at the results of A/B landing page tests. We’re almost addicted to it. But what is it about landing page tests that fascinates us?

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about landing page design and landing page testing. One of the reasons being a webinar that Marketo is hosting with Anne Holland, founder of WhichTestWon.com, on March 23. In the webinar we’re going to look at wisdom and new best practices gained from dozens of A/B tests. The event has already been very successful, having drawn not hundreds, but thousands of registrations. It seems we’re addicted to predicting how others react to things.
In A/B tests, we change one element of a landing page, e.g. the color of a form button, the text copy on the page, or an image used. We run the two pages side-by-side, alternating randomly with a 50/50 split to see which page is more successful in generating further interest, i.e. more conversions. When we see the results, it gives us an opportunity to not only increase our success and drive more business, but also to learn something about human psychology.
At the same time I’ve recently had the opportunity to revisit one of the most talked about marketing-related books of the past five years, Made to Stick, by Chip and Dan Heath. I’d like to thank the San Francisco Marketing Book Club, and in particular Daniel Kuperman who organized a recent session which covered the book. If you haven’t yet had a chance to read it, get your hands on this book soon. It is a great refresher on human psychology as it applies to marketing and advertising.
In Made to Stick, the authors cover six principles of successful communication. These principles can be applied to marketing, and I believe more specifically, to landing page design. Let’s take a quick look at these success characteristics and how they may apply.
  1. Simple – Many marketers are afraid to simplify their message for fear of lacking sophistication, or fear of leaving something out of the message. For the reader, however, focus and clarity greatly improve the readability of a landing page. But remember that simple doesn’t necessarily mean short. A fully-worded message can still be simple.
  2. Unexpected – The purpose here is to grab our reader’s attention by presenting something that is counterintuitive, something which causes them to look up and notice. Instead of presenting the obvious, it’s better to challenge previous knowledge and communicate that our future communication will help close the knowledge gap.
  3. Concrete – One of the surest ways to get a point across is to relate it to something tangible, something which involves sensory information. That way we can assure our message will mean the same thing to different people. Business often gets mired in abstract language instead of visuals. The successful communicators are able to provide mental pictures which cause the message to stick.
  4. Credible – How can we make a message believable? As marketers, we tend to draw upon case studies and statistics to prove our point. But it is often the simple proof statement which is most effective. In the 1980 presidential election debate between Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter, Regan could have cited several statistics which pointed to the sluggish economy. But instead, he asked his audience, “Before you vote, ask yourself if you better off today than you were four years ago.”
  5. Emotion – A key part of effective communication is getting the other person to care. There are a range of emotions which could come into play and different emotions will be effective in different situations. In the book, Made to Stick, the authors point out that teenagers will not react strongly to the disgust of cigarette smoking but will rally behind quitting smoking if it means fighting against big corporations.
  6. Stories – A story requires a common thread and a beginning, middle and end. An effective landing page will have a story which takes the viewer on the path from drawing them in, persuading them, and enabling them to take a next step.
Anne Holland’s latest venture, WhichTestWon.com, is brilliant in that it not only helps marketers design better landing pages. It taps into our natural curiosity by being simple, concrete, and sometimes unexpected.
If you’re interested in learning more about landing page tests and landing page design best practices, be sure to check out or recent webinar: Winning with Better Landing Pages – Top 5 Secrets to Lifting Conversions, featuring Jon Miller, VP Marketing at Marketo , and Anne Holland of WhichTestWon.com.

What Fascinates Us About Landing Page Tests?

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