Selling Visual Products Online: Case Study

How important are images to your landing page? The formula we use in our Chemistry of a Successful Landing Page includes the element “Image” as a necessary component. At the heart of this is the need for the visitor to imagine owning the product or service. That’s right, even services.

For some, it’s difficult to “show the product.” If you’re offering an expensive software solution or consulting service, how do you communicate what it will be like to own that? Screen shots, flow charts and explainer videos are typical go-to solutions.

Lazy designers drop happy, smiling people on the page. Avoid this business porn.

At the other end of the spectrum is the visual product or service. Photographers, artists, decorators and designers have a portfolio of past work to help visitors imagine buying from them.

Vacation Beach Portraits is such a visual business, and they have some test results that offer some insights. I love it when small businesses take up testing.

Vacation Beach Portraits takes family portraits of tourists to the Orange Beach and Gulf Shores areas of Alabama. The beautiful white beaches and sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico offer an ideal setting.

The folks at Vacation Beach Portraits tried testing a landing page against their home page, a blog filled with samples of their work.

Vacation Beach Portraits HomePage-Selections
The Vacation Beach Portraits home page was full of delicious images showing off the work.
familyportraits_vacationbeachportraits_com
Then landing page features a prominent call to action and portfolio video.

Vacation Beach Portraits HomePage thumbThe home page was a long scrolling collection of pictures from recent shoots. Load time can significantly decrease conversion rate on pages like this. However, though lazy-loading of the images allowed me to start viewing images immediately.

The landing page, built using Unbounce, provided an explainer video with samples from their portfolio. It is shorter and features a bulleted list of benefits as part of the copy.

Serial Test

This local business will have few transactions each month. Therefore, Jason Odom of Vacation Beach Portraits did tests in series.

From May 1-15, he sent his search traffic to the landing page.

From May 16-31 he sent his search traffic to the home page.

image
Comparison of visits to inquiries shows a 42.1% increase in conversion rate for the home page. However, this is not statistically valid. Source: ABTestGuide.com

Given the relatively low number of clicks and inquiries, the two pages converted at the same rate statistically. When testing low-traffic sites, we are looking for treatments that beat the control by large margins — 50% or 100%.

In this test, the home page generated 42% more inquiries and 105% more paying clients. Neither of these results was statistically significant, though. The sample sizes were just too low.

Why Didn’t the Landing Page Outperform the Home Page?

Anytime we hear that people are sending “store-bought” traffic to their home page, we roll our eyes. We are almost always able to improve conversions by sending visitors to a landing page.

In this case that didn’t happen. What’s the deal?

Two hypotheses emerged from this test.

1. The long page full of gorgeous pictures found on the home page is what visitors want.

2. The clear call to action found on the landing page kept it in the running.

For their next test, we recommended either adding a bunch of these big gorgeous pictures to the landing page, or adding a call to action button at intervals down the home page.

The quality of the images in the landing page video was lower than the full-width photos found on the home page.

When someone decides they want an amazing family photo like those shown, a button with “Schedule Your Photo Session” is exactly what they will be looking for.

Other Considerations

There were some additional hypotheses we felt would improve the performance of these pages.

This font is pretty, but very hard to read.

We felt that the script font used on the home page was hard to read, recommending a serif print font instead.

Beach Clothing Color Ideas is at the bottom.

The navigation on the site was not particularly logical. The very helpful navigation item “what to wear” seems to link to anything but topics on what to wear. Every link on a site should keep its promise.

Making the phone number more apparent my close the time it takes to book a client from the web or landing page. We find that adding the phone number to the headline (yes, the headline) will significantly increase calls without depressing form fills.

Advice for Businesses with Visual Offering

If you have a visual product, you should leverage this with high-quality, high-resolution web images. Don’t be afraid of long pages. Visual visitors know how to scroll and will appreciate the wealth of stimulation.

However, don’t forget the calls to action.

You never know when someone has seen enough to buy. Lace a buttons or links among your images. Keep in mind that the buttons or links are going to have to compete visually with the images, so make them pop.

The button or link will go to a more traditional landing page or product page that handles objections, allows selection of size, color or format, and asks them to buy.

In almost every case, use captions. These are the most read copy on most pages and are a great place to include a call to action. Tell them what they are looking at, even if it is obvious to you.

Results From the Follow-up Test

This is the busy season for Vacation Beach Rentals, and their landing pages are already converting very well for them. We won’t know the results another test for some time. Subscribe to the Conversion Scientist by email to find out the rest of this story.

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Brian Massey is the Founder and Conversion Scientist at Conversion Sciences. He is the author of Your Customer Creation Equation. His rare combination of interests, experience and neuroses were developed over almost 20 years as a computer programmer, entrepreneur, corporate marketer, international speaker and writer.

  • Kostas

    This is a really interesting case study. As you say selling a service is often more difficult when it comes to visual aids, but that is not to say that it cannot be done! While this deals with a visual product, I think some of the take aways can be translated into non-visual products too