Split Testing: The Golden Rule Of Internet Marketing

Note: this an article I wrote a few months back as a guest post at BradleySpencer.com.

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of testing with landing pages, and some interesting things have come out of that. Actually, to be more precise, I’ve been testing ad copy / landing page combinations, but today we’re mostly just talking about landing pages.

Remember – as a marketer you need to test everything on your site, so even if the following has worked for me, you can’t just go and implement the same on your own site without testing – you might find your market is quite different from mine.

So… what is the prevailing wisdom on landing pages? Well, one school of thought (a very popular one, I might add) says it needs to be as short as possible, ideally with everything above the fold. Sounds pretty good, right?

I mean, it makes sense – you want people to see your whole message immediately, without having to do extra work to get to the opt in. If they have to scroll, a certain percentage of the traffic will simply not bother.

HOWEVER – the catch 22 with landing pages is that you need to give them enough information to make the decision to opt in. So there’s a balancing act going on here – you want as little as possible, to make things as easy as possible, and yet at the same time, you need to balance that with enough information that they become engaged.

Recently I tested this idea on one of my pages for a few days. You can see the results from the split test right here:

The variation in this case was the same as the control page, except that I hacked off a few paragraphs of copy that I thought may have been ‘overkill’ for what was needed. It brought the page up above the fold, and basically brought my page into line with the short page school of thought.

Well, as you can see, the short copy bombed. I stress – the length of the copy was the ONLY difference between these two. According to the mighty Goog – the original, long copy version of my landing page out pulled the shorter. Why is that?

Well, it turns out that the bit of copy I chose to hack was apparently speaking to a lot of people. It basically said there are two types of ____. One does XYZ, and the other does everything better than XYZ. (I’m simplifying here :)… My free course can help you learn to be the second type…

I’ve kept it generic so your brain doesn’t get stuck into a box about my particular market – you can use this idea anywhere.

On a side note, you may be wondering why the conversion rate is only 10% or so for an opt in… that’s because of the ad copy I’m using. The ad copy (banner ads on Google in this case) pulls incredibly high CTRs by grabbing people’s interest. The nature of the ad being what it is, many people click off after landing on the page… yet the tradeoff of far more traffic works out favorably for me in terms of cheaper conversions.

A different example – a friend of mine recently created a landing page that broke pretty much every ‘rule’ I know of  on landing pages. It was hugely long, only had a single opt in box at the very bottom of the page. It had hardly any graphics… Basically 2-3 pages of solid text. The only traffic he sent there came off his signature on a forum… and yet in a couple of days he got 180 or so views of the page, and something like 140 opt ins.

How can that be? Because his traffic was pre-qualified… they’d already seen his forum posts and knew something about him, therefore they were willing to read and engage with his long copy page, and many opted in as a result.

So the moral of the story is this: use a landing page that is appropriate for the traffic you’re sending to it. Yes, this means you’re likely going to need multiple landing pages… probably at least one for every campaign you’ve got running if you want optimal results. If you truly want the best results possible, you need to segment each traffic stream and then TEST your landing page for that stream until it performs the best it can.

At the end of the day – no matter what all the ‘gurus’ tell you about internet marketing… the fact of the matter is they’re probably just telling you what has worked for them, as I’ve just done. It doesn’t mean it will necessarily work for you. Each market and offer is quite different.

The only way to know is to test.

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