How to Optimize & Test your landing pages: Q&A with Clay Collins of LeadPages

If you’re serious about growing your email audience, you already know the value of landing page testing and optimization.

Caveat: Becoming an optimization pro doesn’t happen overnight. And plenty of small business marketers and entrepreneurs need a helping hand to get started.

Clay Collins knows that feeling. It’s why he co-founded LeadPages, a popular landing page tool that makes testing more accessible.

We asked Clay about his company’s origin story, takeaway lessons from thousands of landing pages, and his tips for better lead generation.

To start: What common landing page mistakes do you see that can hurt conversion rates?

I’ll give you five:

  1. Bad copy.
  2. No clear call-to-action and not having an obvious button that visitors are told to click.
  3. Having the opt-in box on the left versus the right.
  4. Not being mobile responsive.
  5. Putting the spotlight on the company or product instead of the customer’s problem.

What does LeadPages do and who is it for?

LeadPages is a lead capture and lead generation platform that allows businesses to quickly create lead capture pages, lead capture boxes, landing pages, and automation links.

We’ve noticed that, on most websites, about 5% of web pages tend to generate about 95% of the revenue. For example, you might have a blog with 1,000 pages, but it’s the opt-in page and the sales page that generate the bulk of the results. LeadPages is all about making it ridiculously easy to create those pages based on templates that are optimized for conversion.

How did the company get started?

As a marketing blogger, I used to spend hours writing epically long blog posts twice a week. The posts were good, but took up an immense amount of time.

Then I discovered Gary Vaynerchuk and Wine Library TV. Gary was leveraging 10+ years of wine experience into quick videos that took less time to create than the blog posts I’d been writing. I decided to change gears.

I had a graphic designer create landing page templates based on the best work my consultancy had created for clients. Then, instead of long posts, I’d use a screencast video post where I talked about how (and why) the landing page template worked. People could download the template for free.

That’s when things got interesting. In the comments section, I started seeing the same questions over and over:

  • How do I integrate this template with WordPress?
  • How would I publish this as a Facebook tab?
  • How do I integrate this with AWeber?
  • How would I split test or get analytics on this?

After that, the LeadPages idea formed pretty quickly. We pre-sold memberships to about 200 people for $200 for a year of access. A month later, in January of 2013, we officially launched and we’ve been releasing new landing page templates or features almost weekly.

What are some things you’ve learned about effective landing pages?

A few counterintuitive things we’ve discovered include:

Putting a video or image on the right and a call-to-action on the left is not as effective as the opposite.

This has become kind of a design trend even though it usually does not convert as well as having the call to action on the right.

How little you should vary from the “standard truths” about landing page design.

By “standard truths” I mean the classic things — above the fold vs. below the fold, opt-in forms with fewer fields vs. forms with more fields, etc. Many of these have been reinforced by the analytics we get from the 250,000+ landing pages LeadPages users have created so far.

Even though pretty design doesn’t always convert better, people still want pretty design.

Strangely enough, we’ve noticed that a good percentage of folks simply don’t care what converts better they want the template that looks better.

More people than we thought care less about results and more about how their business is portrayed visually. We don’t always think that’s the best thing to do, but we do respond to it.

Inside LeadPages, you can sort all of the templates by average conversion rate (see image below).


Why is split testing so important?

Split testing allows you to do three things:

1. Validate big decisions before going all the way with them.

People will often totally overhaul their design or copy for vague reasons like “I didn’t like the way it looked” or “it sounded too salesy.” It’s fine to have those thoughts, but it’s always important to test them and have actual numbers to confirm your thoughts before implementing a major change that impacts all of your visitors.

2. Discover those rare instances when conventional wisdom fails.

I mentioned earlier how rare success can be when you start deviating from the “standard truths” of landing page design. Well, as rare as it is, it does happen. Split testing gives you the ability to experiment and sometimes stumble upon exceptions to the rules.

3. Constantly improve your copy.

Bad copy was first on my list of landing page mistakes because it’s hard to get it right, especially if you’re new to copywriting. Split testing your copy gives you an easy way to incrementally improve all aspects of it from the headline, to sub-headlines, to structure, to length, tone to point-of-view. The options are endless.

We really believe that marketers who can split test circles around their competitors are the ones who will win. And we want you to win.

Generating leads is critical, but what about the process from there?

You can’t stop at just collecting leads; you then have to build a relationship with them.

The sweet spot for nurturing leads is to do content marketing that is valuable on its own, but also absolutely demonstrates the value of whatever you are selling.

For example, every time we release a feature at LeadPages, we talk about the history behind the feature, why we created it, the need for it, and the benefit of it. Everything visitors learn about that feature update is valuable on its own, but we also clearly demonstrate how the feature itself can benefit them.

Our favorite way to nurture leads is through webinars, which is partly why we have so many webinar registration page templates in LeadPages. We really believe in the value of educational webinars. They provide a great way to foster the connection you have with both leads and existing customers.

Hunter Boyle

Hunter Boyle leads business development for AWeber. A veteran content and conversion strategist, he's helped thousands of marketers optimize their digital initiatives. Connect with Hunter on Twitter and LinkedIn.