Landing Page Optimization: A Comprehensive Guide

Landing Page Optimization: A Comprehensive Guide

Last updated on by Ted Vrountas in Conversion Optimization

Your first attempt at designing a landing page isn’t going to be perfect. It may be good enough to generate conversions, but there’s always room for improvement. When enhancements can mean significant gains in your business’s bottom line, you should always consider landing page optimization.

What is landing page optimization?

Landing page optimization refers to the process of improving elements on a landing page to boost conversions. It involves a structured system of data collection, analysis, and experimentation methods like A/B testing and multivariate testing.

AB testing diagram

Unlike most web pages, a landing page stands alone, separate from your website’s navigation. Its only purpose is to convert a visitor into a lead or sale. Signups, downloads, purchases, and subscriptions are all goal actions that a landing page may attempt to elicit, and landing page optimization works to improve the rate at which they occur.

Why is landing page optimization imperative?

Landing pages are the workhorses of your digital marketing presence. By converting visitors to leads and sales, they turn anonymous traffic into sales opportunities and revenue.

While this is essential in any circumstance, it’s even more vital when you consider landing pages largely aim to convert paid traffic. As part of paid advertising campaigns, a successful landing page doesn’t only drive revenue—it also keeps you from wasting valuable budget by optimizing your ad spend.

A process for landing page optimization

Diagnosing landing page problems isn’t as simple as pointing to an element and saying, “Let’s test this!” It involves a more precise process that enables its users to be confident that what they’re optimizing will have a measurable effect on the page’s goal.

A/B testing and multivariate testing are two of the best-known methods of identifying ways to optimize your landing pages. They involve testing multiple pages against each other by driving traffic to each and seeing which produces the best result.

A/B testing is ideal for finding the global maximum (the best general page design for accomplishing your goal), and multivariate testing is best for finding the local maximum (the most optimal combination of specific elements on the winning version of your general page).

Local vs. global maximum

Though they differ in what they test, the general structure of the testing process is very similar:

  1. Collect data. Assuming you’ve already set conversion goals and know what you want your page to accomplish, you need to figure out what’s keeping your page from accomplishing it. To do that, look at analytics, heat maps, user recordings—even try conducting surveys. Gather as much data as you reasonably can.
  2. Analyze and develop a hypothesis. In the data, look for deficiencies that may be warning signs of a larger problem. For example, a high bounce rate may indicate a disconnect between the ad and the landing page. Or, a scroll map may show that visitors aren’t scrolling past the fold to examine the rest of your page. These red flags might mean you need to rewrite your copy or rearrange your page. From your analysis, create a hypothesis for testing.
  3. Determine metrics for success. To be confident your experiment will yield a worthwhile result, you need to ensure it’s reliable. Statistically speaking, there’s an exact number of visitors you need to drive to your pages before you can be confident your test results were not due to chance. To determine this number, you need to know things like your baseline conversion rate and the minimum detectable effect.
  4. Eliminate confounding variables. Your test isn’t taking place in a vacuum, and that makes it susceptible to outside variables that threaten to poison its validity. Controlling for them as much as possible is necessary to produce an outcome that you can use on your pages.
  5. Set up your test and QA. The most efficient way to create variation pages and test them is with software. But software isn’t perfect, nor are those of us who use it. So create your variation pages, but don’t run your test until you’ve controlled for user error and instrumentation problems. Test traffic sources, page elements, different browsers, software, etc.
  6. Let your test run. Once you’ve QA’d and set your test live, it’s vital to let it run. How long? At least until you reach statistical significance, but the longer the better. Regression to the mean can happen even after you’ve reached the industry-standard 95% statistical significance. The more visitors your page accumulates, the more confident you can be in your result. Opinions are mixed, but experts say that the test should be live for at least 2-3 weeks, even if it reaches statistical significance earlier, to control for time’s effects on consumer behavior.
  7. Analyze your result. With your test concluded, what does it show? Even if your test page hasn’t beaten the original, you’ve learned something. And it may be a lesson that will come in handy in future tests. If your variation page has bested the original, and your test has met the conditions above, you can be relatively confident that your alterations will result in more conversions. Make your optimization and monitor the new page.
  8. Continue testing. Testing isn’t a one-and-done process. If you have the resources, and you’re confident that landing page optimization will move the needle more than any other tactic, you should be testing as continuously as possible—because the best conversion rate is one that’s better than the one you have now. Take what you’ve learned from your previous tests and try to apply it to future ones. Patterns may emerge that allow you to recognize problems and remedy them faster, making your optimization system even more effective.

What can you test on landing pages?

Landing pages consist of many elements, and the combinations they can form are endless. So, what should you test? Headlines? Images? CTAs?

All these are fair game. But you should never test an element at random, or because someone else told you it was worth testing. What’s worthwhile for another company’s campaign may not be beneficial for yours. Make sure you have a reason for testing rooted in your own observations.

It’s also crucial to remember that, when choosing an aspect of your page to test, you’re trying to maximize your return on investment. Should you be testing elements of little significance like button colors or text size? Probably not. These aren’t likely to result in meaningful changes to your campaign.

The elements you choose to test should be ones that will have a drastic effect on visitors:

  • Form fields—more, less, different types.
  • Media—various images (hero shots, infographics, etc.), videos (explainer, introductory, product demo).
  • Copy—distinctive headlines, subheadlines, body copy (long/short), CTA, selling proposition, persuasive argument.
  • Page length—more or fewer elements for a longer or shorter page.
  • Trust indicators—types of testimonials (image with text, video), location and number of customer reviews, logos of well-known publications you’ve been featured in, logos of well-known clients, images that convey security (badges from Norton, McAfee, trustE, BBB).
  • Arrangement of elements—content above/below the fold (like CTA, copy, images, etc.).
  • Number of elements—multiple CTAs, more/fewer images, more/fewer trust indicators.

These are only a few examples of things that can meaningfully affect your conversion rate. But just as vital as knowing what to test is knowing what not to test. For example, you wouldn’t try center-aligned text because this makes reading hard for visitors. And you wouldn’t shape your buttons like stars because they would be unrecognizable. Some best practices on the web aren’t worth testing because they’re not likely to produce a positive result.

That’s not to say there’s never a time or place to test best practices. Just because somebody else has done it one way doesn’t mean it’s the right approach for you. But if you’re going to test established principles of the web, you had better have a good reason to think they need changing.

The final word on landing page optimization

Landing page optimization is a powerful process for adding to your bottom line. But, before you test, it’s essential to be realistic about what you want to accomplish.

Landing page optimization isn’t always the best way to improve a campaign. Targeting parameters, traffic sources, ads, etc., all play a part in your campaign’s success. And sometimes you’re better off spending your resources on optimizing these.

Doing landing page optimization before you’ve honed your targeting is like trying to walk before you can crawl. Make sure that when you start landing page optimization, you’re confident it will move the needle more than other tactics.

Ready to start landing page optimization? Get a demo of Instapage to find out how you can use its heat maps, analytics, and built-in experimentation to optimize your landing pages faster.

Ted Vrountas

by Ted Vrountas

Ted Vrountas is a content writer at Instapage who hates most marketing content. As a human among marketers, his goal is to write words people actually want to read.

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