Talking about landing pages that convert is one of a Conversion Scientist’s favorite conversation topics. It’s even something that plays a huge part in their dating lives, and one of Conversion Scientist Brian Massey’s most popular presentations is still the Chemistry of the Landing Page (replay).

Your Conversion Rate Will Make or Break Your Campaigns

Conversion Sciences doesn’t just talk a big game when it comes to giving advice about landing pages: we have the data to back up what we’re saying. Having high-converting landing pages has made our webinar series Lab Coat Lessons a big success.

28.62 percent conversion rate on our landing page for our CRO & SEM webinar

28.62% conversion rate on our landing page for our CRO & SEM webinar

42.41 percent rate on our landing page for our UX vs. CRO webinar

42.41% conversion rate on our landing page for our UX vs. CRO webinar

50.92 percent conversion rate on our landing page for our Mobile 2.0 webinar

50.92% conversion rate on our landing page for our Mobile 2.0 webinar

Just think of what would happen to your revenue if your landing pages had a 50% conversion rate.

Helping people build high converting landing pages just never stops being interesting, so next week, on Thursday, October 15th, Brian will be joining Avangate for a free webinar that will teach you how to do just that. watch the replay now, and you’ll learn:

  • Why landing pages are so powerful in online marketing.
  • Why you should build landing pages backwards.
  • The primary components that make landing pages work.
  • How to keep your landing pages from getting off track.

What’s on the Conversion Scientist’s reading list these days?

Business Insider: 20 Cognitive Biases that Screw Up Your Decisions

If I was to rename this article, it would be, “20 Kinds of Best Practices and Why They Won’t Work”.
It is bad news to rely on best practices that are unsupported by data or testing. This article gives you 20 reasons why.
This article is so interesting that it’s no surprise I decided to cover this topic on my most recent column for MarketingLand.
Read more.

LiftPoint Consulting: Data Scientists’ Critical Role in Marketing Today

The conclusion of this article says it best by stating “The days of Marketing as a ‘Creatives Only’ fraternity are over”.
Data Scientists are the left-brained necessity to every marketing department, but since that realization is so new, you might not be able to recognize a good one. They’re a rare breed, after all. There are four skill-sets they have that you need.
Read more.

Econsultancy: Is the Most Persuasive Website in the World?

This case study examining reminded me a lot of my presentation on the Chemistry of the Landing Page where I talk about the different elements that make a landing page a success and also our post on impulse buying where we talk about how to reduce risk so that customers will feel comfortable spending money on your website.’s website is a great inspiration for formulating hypotheses that you can test.
Read more.
What are your suggestions for articles we should read For Further Study?

This is a common question, and requires an understanding of the definitions of bounce rate.”
The bounce rate is a bit slippery and requires some examination. The intention of measuring the bounce rate is to figure out how many of your visitors are leaving almost immediately after arriving at your site. This metric provides for a lot of error in interpretation.

“A high bounce rate means you’re site is crappy.”

This is rarely the case. A more accurate explanation is that your site doesn’t look the way your visitors expect it to look. Understanding what your visitors expect is the way to reduce your bounce rate.
Instead, there are usually some more valid reasons for your high bounce rate. Here are the things we examine when confronted with uncomfortably high bounce rates.

You’re measuring it wrong.

How you measure your bounce rate can give you very different insights. For example, blogs often have high bounce rates. Does this mean that visitors don’t like the blog?
Many analytics packages measure a bounce as a visit, or session, that includes only one page. Visitors who take the time to read an entire article would be considered a “bounce” if they then left, even though they are clearly engaged.
We set a timer for our blog traffic, so that any visitor who sticks around for 15 seconds or more is not considered a bounce.

Technical Difficulties

We are fond of saying that you don’t have one website, you have ten or twenty or thirty. Each device, each browser, each screen-size delivers a different experience to the visitor. If your website is broken on one of the more devices popular with your visitors, you will see a bump in overall bounce rate.
If your pages load slowly, especially on mobile devices, you can expect a higher bounce rate.
If your page breaks out in a chorus of Also Sprach Zarathustra when the page loads, you may enjoy a higher bounce rate.

How to diagnose

Your analytics package will track the kind of device your visitors are coming on.

Is there a problem with this site when viewed with the Safari (in app) browser?

Is there a problem with this site when viewed with the Safari (in app) browser?

The Google Analytics report Audience > Technology > Browser & OS shows that there may be a technical issue with Safari visitors coming from within an app. This may also reflect visitors coming from mobile ads, and they may simply be lower quality. See below.
With Google Analytics Audience > Mobile > Devices report, we see mobile devices specifically. The Apple iPhone has an above-average bounce rate, and we should probably do some testing there, especially since it’s the bulk of our mobile traffic.
With an above average bounce rate, visitors on an Apple iPhone may be seeing a technical problem.

With an above average bounce rate, visitors on an Apple iPhone may be seeing a technical problem.

Traffic Quality

If you’re getting the wrong visitors, you will have a high bounce rate.
Remember StumbleUpon? Getting your site featured on the internet discovery site often meant a flood of new visitors to your site… and a crash in your conversion rate. Stumble traffic was not qualified, they were just curious.
Your bounce rate is a great measure of the quality of your traffic. Low quality traffic bounces because:


  • The search engine showed them the wrong link. Do you know how many visitors used to come to our site looking for a “conversion rate” for Russian Rubles to Malaysian Ringletts?!

  • The visitors aren’t ready to buy. They were in a different part of the purchase process. Visitors coming from Social Media ads have notoriously low conversion rates. They weren’t looking, they were just surfing.

We take a closer look at the source of traffic to diagnose a traffic quality problem using Google Analytics Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels report.

Display and direct traffic are our biggest traffic sources and bring the most bouncers.

Display and direct traffic are our biggest traffic sources and bring the most bouncers.

Here we can see that traffic coming from Display ads and those visitors coming “Direct-ly” have a high bounce rate. These two sources also make up 50% of our traffic. Ouch.
In the case of Direct traffic, we expect most of it to come to the home page. With a click, we can see that indeed 50% of Direct visits are to home.
Filtering for Direct traffic, we see that 50% of it is entering on the home page.

Filtering for Direct traffic, we see that 50% of it is entering on the home page.

Clearly we need to do more to get visitors on their way into the site. As Tim Ash says, “The job of the home page is to get people off of the home page.” He didn’t mean by bouncing.
With regard to Display ads, we my have a problem with broken promises.

Broken Promises

Do your entry pages consider the source of visits?
If your traffic is clicking on an ad that promises 20% off on a specific propane grill, and they’re directed to your home page, you’ve broken a promise. You might think that they will search your site for the deal. You might even think they’ll search your home page for the deal. You’re wrong. Many will jump.
Every ad, every email invitation, every referral link is a promise you make to your visitor. If they don’t come to a page that lives up to the promise, they are likely to bounce.


  • Does the headline on the page match the offer in the ad?

  • Does the product in the email appear after the click?

  • Are the colors and design consistent across media?

This Dispaly ad takes the visitors to a page that is almost designed to disappoint.

This Dispaly ad takes the visitors to a page that is almost designed to disappoint.

Looking at your ads on a page-by-page basis is necessary to diagnose and correct this kind of bound-rate problem.

Vague Value Propositions

Ultimately, if you’re not communicating your value proposition to your visitors clearly, you are going to enjoy a monstrous bounce rate.
Your value proposition typically does not address your company or your products. It should be targeted at your visitor, why they are there, and why they should stick around.
Each page has it’s own value proposition. Your business may have a powerful value proposition, but each page should stand on its own.
A contact page should talk about what will happen after you complete the form. Who will contact you? How long will it take? Will they try to sell you something?
A landing page should clearly state that you are in the right place and provide reasons for you to stay and read on.

This landing page delivered a strong value proposition in above the fold.

This landing page delivered a strong value proposition in above the fold. See the full case study and video.

A home page should help you find your way into the site. Most home pages are treated like highway billboards. No wonder people just drive on by.
Ultimately, we don’t want to reduce our bounce rate. We want to improve our conversion rate by bringing the right traffic, to the right page, with the right message, and avoid technical issues that get in the way.
Richard Strauss: Also Sprach Zarathustra by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License.

Are your PPC ads plaid and your landing pages polka dots? That is, are your PPC ads and landing pages in alignment? Check out these great tips and maximize conversions.

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising can be a highly effective way to get your products in front of new prospective customers and drive sales, but only when campaigns are set up with the right touch. Depending on what keywords you want to target with your bids, search ads are generally not prohibitively expensive, but it’s easy to fall into the trap of blowing through your budget on PPC without justifying your media spend with enough sales.

The PPC management mistakes that most commonly ruin advertisers’ chances of respectable ROI involve text mismatches. All too often, an ad’s keyword settings do not match the language used in the ad’s creative, or the landing page content does not match the language used in the ad’s creative.

Search marketing spending in the US from 2014 to 2019.

Search marketing spending in the US from 2014 to 2019.

Why Matching Terminology Matters

If you’re not matching terminology on your landing page to your PPC ads, you’re wasting money and losing clients.

Successful PPC marketing hinges on continuity across all touch points. Web searchers enter search terms into Google based on a need they are trying to fulfill. By the time users have formulated their queries as lines of text, they have already been forced to think about what they’re looking for as being specific to certain terminology. Thus, if your message is going to resonate with them, it has to use the very same terminology.

Google users naturally gravitate towards organic search results. To catch people’s eyes, your ad needs to convey that it addresses the exact issue that the searcher is trying to solve. What’s more, search terms that appear within ad copy appear in bold letters, adding to their visibility and click-throughs.

When people click on the ad, they are expecting to find a matching solution on the other end. You know that dirty feeling you get when you click on a content headline that over-promises and the article ultimately under-delivers? That’s a similar feeling to what happens when there’s a disconnect between search ad copy and landing page copy.

When you get that feeling, you’re unlikely to do business with whoever gave it to you. And that’s why it’s so important that the landing page refer to the exact need at hand and offer an appropriate solution, all using the same terminology. This is one of those landing page best practices that tends to be right every single time.

PPC Ads and Landing Pages in Alignment: The Power of Maximized Continuity

Lack of continuity will result in customers leaving your conversion funnel before opting in to your lead capture offer or purchasing your products.

If a customer searches for “cyan polo shirt summer sale” and you show him an ad for “men’s clothing,” he is not likely to click on it, even though your online store might very well offer cyan polo shirts in the men’s section. Even ad creative touting a “blue polo shirt” product won’t perform as well as the phrase “cyan polo shirt” would – the closer to an exact match you can get, the more effective your ads will be.

PPC ads and landing pages in alignment: Use the word "cyan" to describe the color of this shirt, not just "blue".

Use the word “cyan” to describe the color of this shirt, not just “blue”.

The same principle applies to matching ad copy with landing page copy. If your ad promises a “cyan polo shirt summer sale” but you send people to your homepage, where there are 25 different apparel products being showcased and no trace of any type of sale, the visitor is likely to bounce out extremely quickly.

Customized Ecommerce Text Variations

Using standardized language across your website is necessary to maintain an atmosphere of professional polish and so that your internal search engine will work well. On the other hand, when you set up your search ad campaigns, you should be performing some extensive keyword research to reveal all of the alternate wording that people use for the same thing.

Going back to the same example, you may learn that people often search for polo shirts that are “sapphire,” “teal,” or “turquoise,” which are all reasonably close matches to the “cyan” that appears on your product pages. It totally makes sense to bid on ads to appear on search results for “sapphire polo shirt,” but in cases like these, you may want to create alternate versions of your product pages that only visitors referred by this specific ad will see.

Just make sure to keep these variations out of sight of the search engines, so you won’t get penalized for duplicate content – and out of sight in the website navigation, so visitors do not get confused. Apply a meta “No Index” tag to the head of the landing page to make sure that variations don’t get indexed. Better yet, make sure all your PPC ad campaign landing pages are noindex, follow. Until you have chosen the one you would like to drive organic traffic to.

Dynamic Keyword Insertion

A helpful tool in this process is a Google Adwords feature called Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI). This tool will adjust your ad text to reflect keywords in the user’s search, potentially accomplishing the same goals we just discussed.

Wordstream ran a case study testing the effectiveness of DKI with a client, and found that using this strategy had the following results:

  • Impressions dropped 6%
  • Click-through-rate (CTR) increased by 55%
  • Conversions increased by an incredible 228%
DKI more than tripled conversions.

DKI more than tripled conversions.

The results speak for themselves.

In the context of continuity, the key is to have a very small number of keywords in your ad groups. For top performers, you may even want to use Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAGS).

Customized Lead Capture Page Variations

If your offer is for a service, a B2B product or something otherwise relatively expensive, then you don’t need to send visitors to ecommerce-integrated product pages at all. In these cases, a sparser landing page is likely to perform better, and it’s easy and inexpensive to create new versions of your landing pages for each keyword combination that you bid for.

Landing pages like these are generally aimed at capturing leads rather than driving sales, since major purchases require more pre-sale relationship building to establish trust and to educate prospects. Many of the better marketing platforms available in the open market offer modules for both landing page creation and autoresponder marketing emails.

If lead capture is your goal, focus your Adwords strategy on your prospects’ pain points rather than your offer’s specifications. For instance, a financial consulting firm could run PPC ads for the search term “family budgeting help” or “debt advice.” These ads could lead to landing page variations for each search term, with each one offering visitors the option to download an eBook that provides practical tips on family budgeting and saving money on household bills.

A campaign of this type takes into account that the prospect is having trouble balancing his or her household budget, and it offers a quick and easy solution that also positions the advertiser as a trustworthy expert in the field of family finance. This paves the way for follow-up messaging.

Another benefit of this type of hyper-specific targeting is that it allows marketers to segment the entire customer journey and serve up nurturing emails that match the subscriber’s specific interests. A post-campaign analysis of the relevant conversion data can reveal which segments represent the advertiser’s most valuable customers, thereby informing subsequent marketing strategies.

Doesn’t Have to Be a Bottomless Pit

You do need a landing page for every important ad, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should set up hundreds of landing pages. Instead, focus your campaign on a select number of lead nurture audience personas (three or four) and create an ad that’s optimized to speak to each one of them. Create a unique landing page for each of these ads and set up an autoresponder to send follow-up emails with relevant content to each persona.

If you’re marketing an ecommerce property with a diverse product line and a shopping cart system, start by trying these tactics for just a few products. If it serves you well, then you can focus on making your work flow scalable down the road.

PPC campaigns that are set up for maximum terminology variations are likely to enjoy boosted conversion rates and revenues, so that ad dollars are less likely to go to waste.

Keep improving your paid ads: Google Ad Extensions to Improve your Customer Acquisition Efforts

Graph image by Statista (via Skitch)

Brian Massey does a live markup of an OK Cupid dating profile using the same criteria that he uses when critiquing a business landing page.

Conversion Sciences employee Megan Hoover has agreed to be the test subject, using conversion optimization techniques on her dating profile.

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks to Skyrocket Conversions

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks

Keep these proven copywriting hacks in mind to make your copy convert.

  • 43 Pages with Examples
  • Assumptive Phrasing
  • "We" vs. "You"
  • Pattern Interrupts
  • The Power of Three
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

There are five key takeaways that you should consider on your landing pages.

1. Don’t talk about yourself and your company

How often do you mention your company or your product names? Add to the that number of times you say “we”, “us”, “our”, etc. Have you forgotten your reader?

Are you talking about yourself or what you have to offer the reader?

Are you talking about yourself or what you have to offer the reader?

In the video, we transform the sentence “(I’m) a northern yankee in the south…” to “Northern Yankees are known for having warm hearts.” Both communicate the same thing, but one does so and states why this is a good thing.

2. Design your copy for scanners

Much of your copy is invisible to scanners.

Scanners won't see most of your copy without help.

Scanners won’t see most of your copy without help.

Help them out by using things to keep their wandering eyes on track.

  • Frequent headings
  • Bulleted Lists
  • Highlighted, bold or italicized text

Don’t over-do it, but help a scanner out.

3. Repeat the call to action in key places

If you’re asking the visitor to take action at only the top and bottom of a long page, you may be missing key conversions.

Repeat the call to action with each relevant proof point or section.

4. “Show the product” with images and use Captions

Use images to explain your value proposition but don’t leave the meaning to your reader’s imagination.

Use captions to explain the point of your images.

Use captions to explain the point of your images.

Use captions and in-image text to spell out what they should take from each image.

5. Avoid distractions and irrelevant links

Landing pages have one goal. Focus on that goal and resist irrelevant distractions, such as social media icons, newsletter signups and links to other parts of the site.

Distractions and irrelevant links work against your landing page.

Distractions and irrelevant links work against your landing page.

All of this should work on your dating profile

These are solid practices when designing a landing page, and should apply to a dating profile as well. Readers are people.
Our next step is to modify Megan’s dating profile based on my suggestions and see if we get a higher conversion rate.


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It was a dark room with on of those overhead lights above a lone chair. This was the room Joe Kerschbaum found to interview me at the Hero Conference in Portland Oregon.


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He proceeded to grill me about Landing Pages the special way we build them backwards. You can hear the recording here. We talk about

  • Making great offers
  • Giving visitors a way to take action
  • Providing Proof and Trust
  • What business porn is
  • Ways to avoid abandonment

We learn that pretty pages often aren’t the highest converting pages. If pretty always won, I’d be president by now.


21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks to Skyrocket Conversions

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks

Keep these proven copywriting hacks in mind to make your copy convert.

  • 43 Pages with Examples
  • Assumptive Phrasing
  • "We" vs. "You"
  • Pattern Interrupts
  • The Power of Three
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

This is the next segment of our series on how a dating profile is like a business landing page. This series is written by Conversion Scientist Megan Hoover.

A few weeks ago when I decided it was time to optimize my dating life, I took the first step by creating a list of the qualities I’d like to attract with my profile. It’s an approach I also take in optimizing websites. I need to understand the qualities of an ideal business prospect, one that is likely to convert on the site.

Once I knew who I was looking for, I had to figure out how I’d find him in the sea of non-contenders. I came up with the (quite literal) Formula For Love.

P(first date) = db x (∑ti x 2∑tomg)

Here, P is the probability of a first date. The variable db is a one or zero, zero if there is a deal breaker. The variables ti and tomg are scores for traits that are important, and very important respectively.

Now that I know how I’ll qualify a lead, it’s time to get out my beakers and scales and use the chemistry of landing pages formula to create the landing page of me – aka fill out the big scary blank profile that will attract the kind of man I’d like to go out with.

The chemistry of the landing page

The chemistry of the landing page

A blank page. It might be time to refill our wine glasses. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

The dating site I’ve chosen, OkCupid, gives me a series of open ended questions to fill out. There’s the vague “Self-Summary” section, the slightly less vague “What I’m doing with my life” section followed by a few more sections with more directed prompts: “The six things I could never do without”, “I’m really good at”, “The first thing people usually notice about me”, and “My favorite books, movies, shows, etc.”.

At the very end of the template is my offer and a way to take action, which I will discuss below.

Avoid Distractions

As a girl faced with the daunting task of creating a dating profile, the template is a huge relief. If you’ve ever been tasked with creating a landing page — or writing a blog post — you’ve probably been intimidated by the blank page, too. Your palms sweat, you get up 15 times to use the restroom and refill your coffee. So a corporate web template is the blank-page-sweaty-palm cure, right? It’s not so blank.

It may help with your dating profile, but it’s not a good idea for a business landing page. In the formula for creating a winning landing page, a template is not your friend. In fact, it’s likely to cause a massive chain reaction that will cause the whole experiment to fail.

Like a dating profile, a business landing page should be singularly focused. If you start with your corporate template, it’s already full of stuff like unrelated navigation and social media icons. In other words, it’s full of distractions that can take a visitor away from your primary purpose.

If the right guy is on my dating profile, I want him to message me, not go check me out on Facebook.

If he does, the chances of me converting my dream guy into a date go way down.

We want to start our landing page with a clean slate, a pure webpage. Then add an offer and a form.

The Basic Landing Page Reaction

Have a Great Offer

I’m stuck using a template on OKCupid, against my scientific knowledge. At least OkCupid’s template gives me a form with the call to action “Send a message” and a place to create an offer: the “You should message if” section.

Soft call to action

As a marketer, it’s my job to make the offer compelling so that my dream suitors click that little blue button and make first contact.

Rule number one of a landing page is that the offer should keep a promise.

Don’t break the promise that got your visitor to the page. In the case of a dating profile, the promise is a my main profile photo, user name, age and location. I’ll need to choose a photo that best represents my personality and will line up with what I present in my profile.

Promise: Trail loving Austin adventurer with a mountain bike.

Promise: Trail loving Austin adventurer with a mountain bike.

Offer: A tour of the best mountain biking trails in Austin.

Offer: A tour of the best mountain biking trails in Austin.

The Offer Should Match the Ad

For your business, make sure to think about where your visitors are coming from. Are they coming from an ad where the image displays a purple t-shirt? Then they should see a purple t-shirt on the landing page. Did you advertise 50% off of $1 bills, then your landing page needs to offer 50% off of $1 bills. Keep your promise.

Forms that Convert and Qualify

What about the form? I’m still using OkCupid’s template, so I don’t have any control over the form. In a perfect world I customize my form to help me pre-qualify some of my leads. Consider what information you actually need or want from you leads/purchasers. Sometimes, asking for more information can raise the barrier to entry and lower the number of leads you’ll receive.

  • Is phone number AND email necessary? Or would one suffice?
  • Full address or just zip code?
  • What about a bare bones form?
  • Can I get away with just a name and email?

Think carefully about what information is absolutely necessary for the next step as you create your form. And don’t be afraid to A/B test form length and content. Sometimes more is better, but sometimes less is. Start with a well thought out form with all relevant information to get your visitor to the next step and then test more or less information.

So now what? I’ve got an offer and I’ve got a form. I’m done right?

Technically, yes, I’ve got a dating profile and you’ve got a landing page, but will it convert?


It’s time for us to dig out our goggles because we’re about to heat things up and add the catalysts.

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks to Skyrocket Conversions

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks

Keep these proven copywriting hacks in mind to make your copy convert.

  • 43 Pages with Examples
  • Assumptive Phrasing
  • "We" vs. "You"
  • Pattern Interrupts
  • The Power of Three
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Provide Proof

Put your protective gloves on for this one, we’re about to add a dash of proof.

We have to demonstrate that what we’re saying is true. Have you sold 13 billion hamburgers? Say that. It’s even better if you say 13,982,534,121 hamburgers sold. Do you have a customer that is well known or willing to lend you a quote or their logo?

I asked a few ex-boyfriends if they’d give a reference, but thought better of actually posting those on my profile.

Since posting logos or quotes on a dating profile isn’t going to work, I have to rely heavily on copy to provide proof. The more specific I get the better proof I’ll provide. Instead of saying, “I enjoy mountain biking” I can say, “I ride my Contessa Scott every Sunday at Walnut Creek Park”.

Instead of “I enjoy volunteering with animals,” I would say “Jake the Tank is my favorite four-legged Jog-a-Dog companion.”

I can utilize profile photographs. “I love to travel” is vague, but a photo of me on top of the Great Wall of China is better proof of that enjoyment. We’ll talk more about images in a minute.

Proof makes visitors feel more comfortable taking action by overcoming their objections. It’s the logical argument that supports an emotional decision.

So what are my potential dates’ objections? Do I have anything in common with this person? If I message her will she respond? Is she looking for the same thing I am? Will I be wasting my time by messaging her? Is she even a real person?

In your business, what are your visitors’ potential objections? What would stop a visitor from filling out your form or making a purchase on your site?

In the online dating world a big red flag is a blank profile. How serious is a guy if he can’t even be bothered to write a few paragraphs about himself? The same goes for businesses. A blank page with nothing but a form isn’t enough for a visitor to take you seriously.

When writing copy for a landing page there should be just enough to overcome objections and no more. Dating profiles are no different. Data shows that shorter profiles in a conversational style get far more attention than long resume-style profiles do.

Build Trust

My most powerful trust builder will also be copy. The tone of my copy needs to be friendly and approachable, overcoming the fear of rejection, and I need to make sure I mention exactly what I’m looking for and some specific things my ideal date would have in common with me.

Some common visual ways to add trust to your business landing pages are your company logo, recognized affiliate logos – Visa/Mastercard are common in eCommerace – and certifications. Do you have a Better Business Accreditation? What about Norton antivirus?

A word of caution on trust symbols: too much can come off sketchy. Have you ever been to a site that just rams trust down your throat with pop-ups, stickies, and giant logos? It starts to feel like you’re on a used car lot and not one of the fancy “certified pre-owned” ones.

In my dating profile I’ll need to avoid ramming my niceness, smarts or creativity down anyone’s throat. If I mention in each section that “I’m super nice” by the time they get the message portion they might be wondering if I’ve just set them up to receive a really insulting reply.

OkCupid has another trust tool that often gets overlooked: the “how often do they respond” bar. If one of the biggest fears of dating is rejection, having a yellow or green bar can up the chances of a person messaging. Being too selective with replies can tear away trust that you’re serious or could send the signal that only models with Ph.Ds should apply.

OkCupid's trust tool shares how often everyone responds to messages

OkCupid’s trust tool shares how often everyone responds to messages

Do you respond within 24 hours to all inquires? Do you have a chat or phone number customers can utilize? These types of communication standards go a long way to assure visitors that they can trust your business.

We’ve overcome most of our visitors’ major objections by building trust with copy and images, and they’re almost ready to contact us or buy from us. How can we push them over the edge?

Show the Product

The final component of a landing page is the images. Studies show that it is the most important component of a dating profile, and it’s the first thing on a dating profile.

Rule number 1 for images – Show the product.

One of the biggest fears people have in online dating is their date looking totally different in person than they do online. I can build trust by choosing recent photos without any fancy filters and by adding a date to my photos to assure nervous suitors that I probably haven’t gained 100 pounds since March of 2015, and that I look okay without the wonders of photoshop.

This is true for both online dating sites and your business landing page. OkCupid won’t even show my profile to users if I don’t have a photo.

Without an image, my dating landing page doesn't exist.

Without an image, my dating landing page doesn’t exist.

If your product is tangible it’s pretty easy. But if you offer a service or a downloadable PDF it might be more difficult. Choose an image that allows visitors to imagine what it will be like after they’ve completed the offer.

Video is classified just an image delivered at 30 frames per second usually with audio.

The same goes for my dating profile. To attract the kind of man I want to date I need to choose images that are fun, active, and show me – no photos of that hot friend I talked about earlier. I need my potential suitors to be able to imagine meeting me in person and having a good time doing something we both love. Your photos should capture the same feelings.

A Complete Page

If you want to get a reaction from your visitors, you have to have all of the components. We started with a pure webpage (or as pure as possible) and added and created an offer and a form thinking carefully about how our potential customers/suiters arrived at this landing page. We spruced the landing page up with a bit of proof and trust and carefully added appropriate images. Voila! We’ve mixed up the perfect landing page (aka dating profile) to attract the customer we want – in my case someone to hold my lab coat.

If you’re finding my project entertaining, you should also check out Amy Webb’s Ted Talk and book.

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks to Skyrocket Conversions

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks

Keep these proven copywriting hacks in mind to make your copy convert.

  • 43 Pages with Examples
  • Assumptive Phrasing
  • "We" vs. "You"
  • Pattern Interrupts
  • The Power of Three
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

The long-scrolling flat style landing page is all the rage this year. This style of landing page suffers from some problems, however.

  • Large background images slow load time.
  • Information is presented in small bites. Sometimes more copy is needed.
  • Banded sections often look like the bottom of the page, reducing scrolling.

With the right approach, you can make these pages high-converting landing pages. Here’s how.

In my recent CrazyEgg Webinar How to Reverse-Engineer a High-Conversion Landing Page, I reviewed twelve landing pages using my “backward landing page” framework.

One stood out.

Here’s an excerpt of that presentation featuring the Body Language for Entrepreneurs landing page from Udemy.

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks to Skyrocket Conversions

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks

Keep these proven copywriting hacks in mind to make your copy convert.

  • 43 Pages with Examples
  • Assumptive Phrasing
  • "We" vs. "You"
  • Pattern Interrupts
  • The Power of Three
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Nail the Top of the Landing Page

The purpose of the top of the page is to give the visitor reasons to explore the rest of the page. It’s the headline, the offer and the hook for the page.

Include all Supporting Components

Five components and one contaminant to avoid in a landing page.

Five components and one contaminant to avoid in a landing page.

There are five basic components – Offer, Form, Proof, Trust and Image – and one contaminant to avoid (Abandon) in a landing page, which I outline in the CrazyEgg video.

The Body Language for Entrepreneurs includes all of them at the top, with no opportunities to abandon, such as social media icons, site navigation, or search.


Your offer is the promise and pricing that this page provides a visitor. A complete offer is perhaps the most critical element of the landing page equation.



The landing page should quickly make it clear that the visitor can take action to get closer to solving their problem. The form should have a way to act and an effective call to action.

The call to action should answer the question, “What will happen if I complete the form and click the button?”


Support the claims made in your value proposition with proof.


Building trust builds credibility and authority. Your logo plays a role on a landing page: a trust-building role.
Often symbols can be used to borrow trust from other entities. This is what Body Language for Entrepreneurs did.


A lot of space was dedicated to red buildings in this theme.

A lot of space was dedicated to red buildings in this theme.

If you’re going to slow the load speed of your landing page with a big background image, you better make it count. Designers like to use stylish backgrounds for effect. That’s fine, but not on a landing page.

Images should advance the value proposition. In the Body Language for Entrepreneurs landing page, they show the presenter. That’s relevant. Will I enjoy spending five hours with this person? Do they look credible? It’s all answered with the background image?

Nail the top of the landing page for incredible results.

Furthermore, they use video, which is image at 30 frames per second. Consider video if you don’t have an effective image that explains your value proposition.


There is only one link in the upper area of the Body Language for Entrepreneurs page. It lets the visitor see all of the 56 reviews in the Proof section.

It actually doesn’t qualify as Abandon because it opens in a popover window. The visitor never leaves the page. Very smart.
The Udemy logo is NOT linked. Very smart.

Keep the visitors you paid good money to acquire. Don’t send them elsewhere or they will be gone forever.

Does This Design Really Work?

I asked Adam Treister, Growth Marketing Manager at Udemy to tell me how he arrived at this design and how this page was performing for him.

It was no accident.

Adam documents the process in his excellent Udemy course User Experience Design: The Accelerated UX Course.

The original page looked like this:

The original Udemy landing page for ad traffic

The original Udemy landing page for ad traffic.

After several iterations using,, Google Consumer Surveys, and CrazyEgg, they tested the profile photo using Finally, Adam’s team did a split test using Optimizely.

How did this process work for them? They saw a 246% increase in clicks with the new page. That’s not a typo.

Why This Might Not Work on Your Landing Pages

Every audience is different. They have different goals, needs for information, and are coming on a variety of different platforms. Images and words are powerful

The best way to ensure that your landing page works is to test the components: Offer, Form, Proof, Trust, and Image.

If your landing page is generating at least 150 transactions a month, Conversion Sciences will provide the complete testing team to find the highest-converting combination. Get a complete testing team for the price of a part-time employee.

Request a consultation and we’ll let you know how to make your landing pages surprise you.
Brian Massey

As a scientist, I’m obsessed with data in every aspect of my life. I calculate wait times in lines based on number of customers and speed of the checkout clerk. I check multiple spreadsheets and websites to optimize cash back rewards and airline points before purchasing anything.
So when I decided it was time to look for a lab coat that matches mine, joining an online dating site with plenty of data points was the perfect choice for me.

My Online Dating Profile: The Most Romantic of Landing Pages

An online dating profile is essentially a lead generation landing page, so it’s the perfect platform to create an optimization project that’s entertaining to read about as well as fairly practical for me: a single woman looking for a dating partner.

Before we can attract the ideal date (or customer), we need to know how to measure “ideal”. Most of our visitors won’t be the ideal. We need to have a good understanding of our base qualifications and the deal-breakers that mark a visitor as outside our target market.

One of the most difficult questions a business can answer is, “Who do I not want to focus on?” or, “Who am I willing to let go of to better serve my best prospects?” If we try to speak to everyone with our value proposition, it gets watered down so much that we don’t engage any visitors effectively.

This is essential for efficiency in time and cost of acquisition.

You don’t want your sales staff spending hours with leads that will never be customers.

And I don’t want to spend hours with men that will never be a good date for me.

With this in mind, I’m putting aside the idea of a “match” in favor of looking for “leads”. However, not everyone is a good “lead” for me.
For this experiment to work I needed to be armed with a list of traits that could easily be spotted from a dating profile or early interaction, and a site with a lot of data points to examine.

I chose the free site okcupid because it has a large user base in my target market (Austin, TX) and uses both quantitative and qualitative data points which will make sussing out a qualified lead much easier.

With all this data at my fingertips, the job I have before me is to put together a rating system that will allow me to quantitatively judge what is a fairly subjective task.

But how do I do that?

The (Quite Literal) Formula for Love

For a dating landing page, I need to be able to numerically rate a lead – someone who messages me – instead of using my intuition, and I need to be able to gauge whether I’m attracting the kind of person I want to spend time with. Otherwise, I’m just congratulating myself on receiving mountains of messages with no regard to quality.

We experience the same challenges on landing pages. Our conversion rate tells us how many visitors respond to an offer, but we need another way to determine whether or not our page is engaging qualified prospects: quantity and quality.

Fortunately, my work as a data-driven analyst has prepared me for the task… I hope.

For my lead rating system, I will rate the profile based on observable evidence in his profile and initial message.
I’ve organized my rating system into three different levels:

  • Free of deal-breaker traits (db) rated as a 0 or 1
  • Traits that are of importance to me (ti) rated on a scale from 0 to 1
  • Traits that are of critical importance to me (tomg) rated on a scale from 0 to 1
    Note: this is weighted more heavily in our formula

It all boils down to this First Date Probability formula:
P(first date) = db x (∑ti x 2∑tomg)


The deal-breaker variable is binary. If a curious courter has even one deal-breaker trait, his First Date Probability goes to zero.
In both the dating world and the business world, deal-breakers are pretty important. They quickly eliminate prospective paramours from the running early on. Businesses, however, don’t often incorporate these all-or-nothing deal-breakers in lead scoring algorithms.
What are the deal-breakers in your online business? We all want web prospects that have a problem you can solve, and who have the money to pay for it.

Common business deal breakers include:

  • Title: They don’t have the authority to make the decision.
  • Purchase Timeframe: They aren’t ready to buy in a reasonable time.
  • Location: We can’t service their city.
  • Language: We can’t communicate with them.
  • Budget: They can’t afford us.

At my company, we really can’t do scientific optimization unless a prospect gets 200 transactions or leads from the web in a month. For us, this is a deal-breaker.

Asking about deal breakers in your lead generating landing page forms is one way to let visitors know that they are in the wrong place. They won’t waste your time and you won’t waste theirs.

Deal-breakers for me include:

  • Younger than 25 or older than 45
  • Already in a relationship or not interested in monogamy
  • Living outside of Austin, Texas
  • Smokers

I would score these with a zero if I find them in his profile.
my dating landing page data
my dating landing page about me dataq
Finding evidence of my deal-breakers is pretty easy on okcupid as these are simple questions provided in a basic profile. Either you’re a smoker, or you’re not. Here are some of my answers, totally spelled out for me – 37, non-smoker, Strictly Monogamous, Lives in Austin, Texas.
Evidence of monogamy
If a lurking Lothario contacts me who is prison-bound for living out the storyline of Psycho, I will say “no” to a date and consider none of the other attributes. If these items are present, the inquirer receives an appropriate rating of 0.

For our experiment, anyone who contacts me outside of this range will still be considered a lead, but they’ll just be an unqualified lead. In business, these are the folks we just can’t help. They might get a short, polite email or a referral to a more suitable business.

Important Traits (ti)

This next group of traits aren’t deal-breakers. I’m willing to make compromises here, though they’re still important.

In my formula, I will find a value for important traits (ti) by finding the sum of rated items.  Some items will get a negative rating, meaning a score of one will be subtracted from the total.

  • Negative Rating: If there is a religious mismatch, a prospective Romeo will get a negative rating. It’s important that we have similar values.
  • College graduate – Tells me he values and respects education. And he can read. I’m most turned on by smarts, so someone with a well exercised brain is a must.
  • Adventurousness – Not afraid to try new kinds of foods, sky-diving, road trips — almost anything you couldn’t do in your cubicle.
  • Love of travel – Traveling is part of being adventurous, but it’s also a distinct part of my rating system. I have friends all over the country and would like to hear more about interesting places.
  • Appreciates dry/sarcastic humor – My sarcastic voice sounds a lot like my regular voice (bonus points for Joss Whedon fanboys and knowing where that line comes from)
  • Creative and appreciates art – Creative hobby a plus! (I dance, love the theater, paint and write – I want someone that can come with me to the theater or an art museum.)
  • Healthy/physically active lifestyle – It isn’t about body type; it’s about lifestyle. I’d love to find someone who will join me at the gym or go hiking with me.

You can that rating leads based on these traits isn’t going to be as straightforward as the deal-breakers, but it can still be pretty clear whether someone is stacking up well.
standardized questions
This snippet of standardized questions helps me get an idea of how this person feels about his religious beliefs.  It’s actually a two part question answered by choosing your answer from a drop down menu.  Part one is choosing the religion, and part two is where you choose the degree to which you follow the religion.
Dogs, food, and travel
This question is open-ended, but this guy still managed to cover one of my important traits and also a critically important trait by mentioning his dog.

It won’t always be easy to assign a value, however. Sometimes I’m going to have to look at the profile as a whole to make a decision.  This next profile gave me some mixed messages.

not into exercise

loves bike riding

When you answer standardized questions on okcupid, it will use your answers to rank you among other users of the site.  In the bar graph above, the midline represents the average okcupid user, so this person is much less into exercise than the average person.

But he has also indicated that he rides his bike often in his response to an open-ended question.  Since I’m looking for someone who lives a healthy lifestyle, maybe not exercising is ok. It could mean that he just really hates going to the gym, but he loves being an active person.

Critically Important Traits (tomg)

  • 27-37 years of age
  • Loves dogs – I own a giant dog named Remus and he’s here to stay.
  • Negative Rating: Negativity and pessimism.
  • Career oriented – My ideal match has his own career and professional direction because he’ll understand my own ambition, and we’ll be able to encourage and support each other.
  • Enjoys quiet evening at home – I love being downtown or out where the action is, but I need quiet and mellow to recharge and be my best.

Critically important traits

If this person contacted me, he would be a strong lead based on this small part of his profile.  Humor?  Check. Career oriented?  Check!  Education? Check.  There are many personality traits I’m looking for that I didn’t include in my rating system because I wasn’t sure I’d be able to find solid evidence without meeting in person, but this guy is also demonstrating some strong elements of the Type A personality I really like.

Deciding whether someone is negative or pessimistic will be another item that requires looking at the big picture.  It’s one of those “know it when you see it” traits, but strong indicators are lists of unacceptable attributes in another person and making repeated comments about how past relationships have ended poorly.

Scoring Qualified Leads

So now what? We have a bunch of leads that aren’t obvious mismatches. How do we determine which ones to spend our time and energy on? Who will have the highest ROI?

For our experiment we’ll count a lead as anyone that initiates contact.  We’ll then rank our leads based on the following system:

Qualified lead: Scores a one on all deal-breakers (meaning there aren’t any deal-breakers I could find)

These are the profiles I’ll take time to look at and see if they’re worth spending time on.

Ideal candidate: Scores zero on all negative ratings and ones across the board other than that.  We can skip the screening portion and start lobbying hardcore.

Candidate Level 1: Scores in the top third of my formula.

I will devote time and energy talking to this person and getting to know him with an emphasis on setting up an in-person meeting sooner rather than later.

Candidate Level 2: Scores in the middle third of my formula.

I will respond to his message and ask leading questions.  He may have other qualifications that are not on the list that appeal to me, so he might be worth an in-person meeting.

Candidate Level 3: Scores in the bottom third of my formula.

These are the leads that are worth talking to if times are lean. If lead flow is up, and we’re swimming in qualified leads, these will fall to the bottom of the pile.  We’ll get to them if we have the time and resources to do so.

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks to Skyrocket Conversions

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks

Keep these proven copywriting hacks in mind to make your copy convert.

  • 43 Pages with Examples
  • Assumptive Phrasing
  • "We" vs. "You"
  • Pattern Interrupts
  • The Power of Three
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Case Study

To see how well my equation works on a real person, I’m putting it to the test.  The screenshots below are from a single profile.  He hasn’t messaged me, so he doesn’t count as a lead for my experiment, but he should be good practice for my rating system.

I’ve started with profile basics looking for deal breakers.

Age Location Data
Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 11.59.22 AM
Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 12.13.54 PM

Deal-Breaker Traits

  • Younger than 25 or older than 45: 1
  • Already in a relationship or not interested in monogamy: 1
  • Living outside of Austin, Texas: 1
  • Smokers: 1

He’s off to a good start, so now I’m moving on to look for important traits.  Some of them popped up in his profile basics.

Important Traits

  • Negative Rating – Religious mismatch: 1
  • College graduate: 1

He’s agnostic, and I’m Episcopalian.  We might be able to make it work, however, which is why this trait isn’t a deal breaker.

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 11.59.59 AM

  • Adventurousness: 1
  • Love of travel: 1
  • Healthy/physically active lifestyle: 1

He describes himself as fit in his profile basics which made me think he probably leads a pretty healthy lifestyle, but this paragraph made me certain.

He also has a tone here that seems humorous when he says he runs for his own “feel goods”.  I wanted to give him a score of one based on that line, but it seemed like it would be based on fairly thin evidence.  His self-summary gave me more data to make me think a score of one is appropriate.

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 12.00.21 PM

  • Appreciates dry/sarcastic humor: 1
  • Creative and appreciates art: 0

I looked for responses to questions about art, photos that could be in a museum, mentions of favorite artists, but I didn’t see anything artistic.

He didn’t nail all of my Important Traits in his profile, but I still found evidence of most of them.  Now for Critically Important Traits.

Critically Important Traits

  • 27-37 years of age: 1
  • Loves dogs: 1
  • Negative Rating – Negativity and pessimism: 0

I found his age and pet ownership status in his profile basics.

Of course I can’t prove the null hypothesis with negativity since I’m trying to figure out whether he isn’t a positive person, so it’s possible that he’s a pessimist.  That’s what makes this trait one of the more difficult ones to score – but there wasn’t enough evidence to give him anything other than a zero.
Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 11.59.41 AM

  • Career oriented: 1
  • Enjoys quiet evening at home: 1

If he wants to spend Friday night talking about business ideas, I can say with confidence that he’s a career oriented person.  Takeout, movies, and TV shows all sound like a solid night in to me.

Now I can plug in some numbers into my formula.

P(first date) = db x (∑ti x 2∑tomg)
db = 1
∑ti = 3
∑tomg = 4
P(first date) = 1 x (3 x 2(4))
P(first date) = 24

He is a candidate level one using my criteria.  Let’s hope he sends me a message!

Attracting Ideal Qualified Leads

It may turn out that people aren’t up front about something I thought they would be or that a particular flaw that bugs me turns out to be so common that I would be remiss to keep paying attention to it.  So I may need to make adjustments here and there in my description of an ideal lead.

The process of creating my rating system, however frustrating, was a good experience because knowing what I’m looking for is half the battle. I now know what I’m aiming for in my profile/landing page, and I can share things about myself more strategically.  I won’t be lying on my dating profile, so when I say I’m being strategic, I’m not changing who I am to meet someone – I’m simply emphasizing certain things about myself and not mentioning other things.

Best foot forward, right?  Your landing pages should do the same.  If you’re a family-oriented small business, but your ideal lead isn’t, why share that information?  It’s still important, of course, but it’s ok to withhold information that doesn’t get right to the point.

Now you know quite a lot about what I’m looking for, but you know relatively little about me personally.  To find out more, you know what to do: subscribe to my series!  You know you want to…

Oli Gardner will make you blush when he rips your landing page copy from its safe HTML home and shows you what it says as a plain text file.
I got to thinking, what if we just pulled the images from your website? Would they be able to tell the story of your value proposition?

The Role of Images on a Web Page

Too many designers see images as a way to break up the copy on a web page. They use filler images, stock photos and silly graphs that have no meaning.
Images are a powerful way to convey your value proposition – the reason that a visitor should consider your offer. This is true for landing pages as well as your home page.
The impact on a landing page can be extreme.
Images draw the eye. When your visitors first arrive, these are the elements that get seen first as they scan the page. Images can immediately ask the first question your prospects have, “Am I in the right place to get what I’m looking for?”
Images should compliment, support and enhance the copy on the page. Any image that doesn’t move the value prop forward is hindering it.
Pull the images from your page and take a look.

The Image-only Version of Your Landing Page

If you were to pull just the images from your site, would they tell your story? Here are the images from a site offering information on annuities.

What does your landing page say in pictures?

What does your landing page say in pictures?

It starts off great. The main image has a stock model representing the target audience.
Adding text to an image makes it relevant to your message.

Adding text to an image makes it relevant to your message.

[pullquote]Adding text to an image is a simple way to give it power.[/pullquote] Furthermore, the model is looking at the information you want them to read. If a model is staring at the visitor, the visitor tends to focus more on the face, and less on the messages on the page.
This is essentially an in-image caption.

Captions Get Read

One of the most read portions of your landing pages is the caption. Unfortunately, most pages don’t use captions. Captions explain the image in more detail, moving the value proposition forward for the reader.
[pullquote position=”right”]Captions are a great place to repeat the offer on the page.[/pullquote]

The Caption Test

The best way to test to see if your captions are helpful is to ask a stranger to write a caption for it. How would our annuity page fare?

Graphics without meaningful information don't move your value proposition forward for the reader.

Graphics without meaningful information don’t move your value proposition forward for the reader.

Caption Test: “Get complex information about something.”
The heading for the copy next to this is, “What are the fees associated with an annuity?” This should be repeated as the caption.
The remaining images don’t do so well.
Is this a happy customer? An employee? We can tell the difference between a model and a real person.

Is this a happy customer? An employee? We can tell the difference between a model and a real person.

Caption Test: “I will meet attractive older men. Sooo handsome.”
The copy headline next to this image reads, “What if I need access to the principal in my annuity?” The answer may have made this handsome man smile, but the image really doesn’t support the point. This would not work as a caption.
Another lost opportunity to communicate something valuable.

Another lost opportunity to communicate something valuable.

Caption Test: “Time is running out for you and your little dog too!”
What are your images bringing to mind in your reader's mind?

What are your images bringing to mind in your reader’s mind?

The copy next to this image reads, “How long will I be able to receive income from my annuity?” This would work as a caption. But with the power that an image has for conveying a message, I think this page could do much better.

Images that Work

In general, your images should strive for the following characteristics.

Use real people when possible: employees, clients and spokespeople are great choices.

Use real employees, customers or spokespeople in your images.

Use real employees, customers or spokespeople in your images. This one needs a caption.

Use text on the image and as a caption to advance your value proposition.

Don’t be afraid to repeat offers in captions and on-image text.

This image makes great use of in-image text and an offer in the caption.

This image makes great use of in-image text and an offer in the caption.

Design images that support the copy on the page.

This image uses in-image messaging that supports the copy on the page.

This image uses in-image messaging that supports the copy on the page.

Direct the gaze of people in images to offers, forms or other important parts of the page.

This model is looking at the form, the most important part of this landing page.

This model is looking at the form, the most important part of this landing page.

For software products, choose screen shots that don’t make your product look intimidating.

Screen shots should focus on key features of your software offering.

Screen shots should focus on key features of your software offering.

Spend as Much Time on Your Images as Your Copy

Utlimately, if you spend as much time on your images as you do your copy, you will find creative ways to power conversions on your landing pages, home pages… all pages.
Images courtesy ICIMS, Expert Market and