The second edition of Landing Page Optimization: The Definitive Guide to Testing and Tuning for Conversions is out, and it’s an impressive tome: 461 pages of knowledge that can really make a difference to your online marketing.
You know that you ought to test your landing pages, right? You should also know that your landing pages are more than just your homepage. Here are the top ten landing pages at our lab site this month — out of 599 pages which served as the landing page for that website:
All this tells us is which pages people have landed on — which of our thousands of pages are currently the first page people see. Landing Page Optimization makes the very important point that this is just about traffic. Getting people to your site is essential, but it’s just the first step, and not the one that makes your business money. Once visitors arrive, their value to your business depends on conversion and retention. That’s what this book is all about. You’re optimizing your pages for conversion — as the book puts it, “to guide the right people through the right activities in the right order.”
Landing Page Optimization includes plenty of general marketing background that lets you make some reasonable guesses when you build your page. It has information about how people interact with the web that can save you time when it comes to testing. There’s no reason, for example, to test whether or not having a clear call to action on your landing page will improve conversions.
All of this is presented with screenshots and familiar examples.
There’s a good section on how to get data from your analytics and from usability testing tools, and then Landing Page Optimization jumps into the mechanics of testing.
You’ll learn how to choose the elements to test, get a “crash course in statistics,” and get an overview of the tech stuff (client side vs. server side page rendering, throttling data…) you need to know. You’ll learn about A-B split testing vs. multivariate testing, not to mention variable interactions. The screenshots give way to equations and the callout boxes talk about things like the effect sparsity principle.By the time you reach the chapter on “Assembling Your Team and Getting Buy-in” it will occur to you that this is not something you can do in a spare moment between customers.
Landing Page Optimization discusses the costs of testing and the real possibility that you won’t get clear answers. They don’t discuss the fact that sometimes making any change can move the needle because it draws the attention of search engines to your page, but they do examine some of the concerns people have about the effects of testing on SEO. I was glad to see this section of the book, because many books on conversion optimization take it as a given that you can run a quick test and get worthwhile, actionable results.
If you have a large enough team and budget to do the testing (and that includes making the changes at your website) and just need enough information to sell your board on the idea or to include testing in your strategic plan, this is just the book for you. Comparing this book with other books on conversion optimization which I recommend to people, I think this book may be the best choice for someone wanting to learn about the entire process of testing, while Ben Hunt’s Convert!: Designing Web Sites to Increase Traffic and Conversion may be a better choice for someone who primarily wants to get ideas for optimizing landing pages. On the other hand, if you’re already in the know on how and why to set up testing and a book just can’t have too many equations for you, Conversion Optimization: The Art and Science of Converting Prospects to Customers gives you the next steps.
If you’re teaching this stuff, Landing Page Optimization is your best bet, because it covers all the basics.
[Disclosure: The publisher of this book sent me a copy for review. I am not paid for reviews, and you know I always tell you the truth.]