A/B testing is a company’s Pandora box and marketers’ Holy Grail: it helps businesses understand what their customers want, it helps them generate leads, and gain social media hype, convert and, ultimately, stay ahead of the competition. With so many tools available, A/B testing can be and should be done to optimize and upgrade your website’s components and see what works the best.
Of course, many marketers also make plenty of A/B testing mistakes but this is the truth with all experiments – they need to be repeated and tweaked trial-and-error style until you get your envisioned results. We all need to learn from these mistakes and we all need to learn from successful A/B testing results in order to get inspired and maybe even replicate some of the positive outcomes.
A/B test results are not a one-size-fits-all recipe. What works for a company may not work for another. But we can all learn something and get our creative cogs and wheels up and running. Let’s see some successful A/B testing stories and see how they can be repeated.
5 Landing Pages / Product Pages Successful A/B Tests
When it comes to testing your website landing page you need to take everything into account: header, sub headings, pictures, buttons, download links, copy, and call to action among others. Landing pages split testing is very much like performing a customer survey: you know people are fond of your product, but you want to know how they feel exactly about your services (what makes them come back, what they are willing to spend more money on, what makes them recommend your product etc). This is why marketers test their landing pages in depth. Let’s see a few interesting experiments and their repeatable results.
1. Zapier and the Ugly Landing Page
Zapier is an IT company helping businesses to integrate their favorite and most useful web apps together without writing any code. Zapier’s landing page was a simple wide orange screen that told people that their time was invaluable and that they should invest in themselves. Of course, there were some information about the company and its target audience, but users needed to scroll down a lot to reach that data. The page was criticized for being too simple, too ugly and useless – as people scroll only when they know they have a reason to.
But what critics didn’t know was that Zapier’s ugly page was the surprising result of an A/B test. In comparison to a classic landing page where everything people needed to know was displayed upfront, this elusive page led to a 14.5% increase in users’ accounts. In other words, the simple and ugly page determined more people to sign up and create new accounts with Zapier.
There is no marketer out there to not insist on the aesthetics, user-friendliness and information-rich landing page of your website. And yet, Zapier’s results show that sometimes a great looking page with all the trimmings converts poorer than an ugly page. Moreover, you can try several landing page templates, tweak the copy and the colors and try to provoke users. Test different variations and keep in mind that sometimes people don’t want to be fed information about your company; they just want to discover them.
2. Metageek and Download Links
Not so long ago, Metageek wanted to increase sales of their downloadable software products. This is basically what everybody wants. One of their experts suggested them to run an A/B test. The original version of their landing page contained download links presented as text. The tested variation replaced the texts with big bold shiny download buttons – a no brainer in marketing. The premise was simple: people are more tempted to click on colored buttons and get their products than on written texts which remind everyone of ancient malware tricks.
The results were surprising to say the least. The variations featuring download buttons reduced conversions and sales up to 80%! The unpopularity of the buttons, however, has an explanation: the users are seasoned enough to prefer text over flashy buttons as they are oversaturated by pops of color all trying to sell them something.
Test your landing page or your products’ page with text vs. buttons for people to click and buy or download your products. You may be surprised by the fact that many find texts more reassuring and trustworthy in a world full of flashy buttons.
3. Kiva and Full Brand Transparency
Kiva is a non-profit organization which raises money for social causes. But in this time and economy, people are less willing to donate money at their first date with a charity organization. However, Kiva wanted first time users to make a donation as soon as they hit the NGO’s landing page. They started with a beautiful and by-the-book landing page stating their mission and vision, their implemented projects and their future plans, all accompanied by photos and organizational details.
The second variation tested also included social proof, a FAQ section and relevant statistics. They integrated these details within their landing page. In case you need further insight on these elements, let’s summarize them:
- Social proof is what we know as “real customer testimonials” – and you should also test where you put a testimonial on your home page, how you put it and how many words you use.
- FAQ section – this allows your users to engage with your company faster and in a more transparent and trustworthy manner.
- Statistics – Kiva showed their prospect donors relevant numbers (placed front and center nonetheless) which reflected the organization’s results.
These three elements managed to achieve 11.5% increase in donations of first-time website visitors.
If users don’t know exactly who you are or what you offer they might be overwhelmed by objections, distrust and reluctance. But offering them clear answers about whom you are, what you do and who are the people who support you earns you credibility points. Test and re-test landing page variations to incorporate social proof, FAQ and relevant statistics to earn people trust and eventually convert in a natural manner. People are more willing to pay for products or services coming from a company they feel open, friendly and human.
4. ExpressWatch and the Proof that Quality Beats Price
ExpressWatch is an online company selling certified Seiko watches. Just like everybody else, they wanted to increase sales. They, however, knew their target audience well enough to understand that one major drawback in online product sales is that customers are worried about the authenticity and the quality of the product. There are many horror stories related to people getting something entirely different from what they shopped for – and they have pictures to prove it. This is why ExpressWatch wanted their clients to be convinced that their Seiko watches were indeed Seiko watches.
The first catalog page variation had a price guarantee tag next to each watch model. The “Never Beaten on Price” tag was working, but was not working as well as the company expected.
The second test they took was a product page where the price guarantee tag was replaced by a trust symbol, an emblem stating the watches’ authenticity and quality. The trust tag increased conversions by 107%.
ExpressWatch customers cared more about the products’ authenticity than about their price. For your own product catalogue, test to learn what your customers want and not what you think they want. Price is an important factor in the purchase decision, but it is not the only one. Try some “best selling” tags, “authenticity” tags, “controlled origin” and so on.
5. Grow Your Own Groceries business and the Power of Video
We all know video is all the rage in marketing in 2016 and if we don’t know this yet, we’d better learn soon. It is not news that video converts better than photos – Facebook ads are a straightforward example to support this assertion – but what we can do in terms of novelty is yet to be explored.
Grow Your Own Groceries is a small company that teaches people how to grow their own healthy food via educational and instructional DVDs. Naturally, the company’s owner wanted to increase the sales of their DVDs. Just like many other landing pages, hers had an About Us section accompanied by the owner’s picture.
But then she proceeded to run one of the simplest A/B tests available: she switched the picture with a video. The video briefly but clearly explained what was the company about, what were the goals, who was the audience they targeted and why was it important for the audience to engage with the company.
The results are easy to understand: the version of the landing page featuring a video converted by 12.62%.
Don’t sleep on one ear! Replacing pictures with videos on your home page doesn’t guarantee you results. You need to know where and how to place the video on the page, what length it should have and what information it should contain to spark people’s curiosity and not bore them.
However, what you can learn from this example is that video-based marketing works and is on the rise. A short and compelling video helps customers understand faster and better who you are and what you want, giving them a feeling of transparency, truthfulness and personal bonding. From a practical point of view, video allows prolonged human engagement with the website, clears some potential questions and doubts, answers questions and offers details.
There are plenty other A/B testing success stories you can get inspired from. Remember to test and re-test often and learn from all results, good and bad. You can test more than your landing page. There are newsletters, email campaigns, check out product pages, catalogues and even blog posts which can be optimized so they convert faster and better. Which of these examples seems the most interesting for you as marketers? Are these case studies replicable? What’s your take on landing page A/B testing optimization?
We’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment and tell us what you think.