My Process for Optimizing Landing Pages

June 27, 2015 Posted by Tyler Cruz

I’ve been so wrapped up with learning and jumping into real estate investing lately that I’ve totally neglected affiliate marketing for quite a while. All my major health issues this year certainly haven’t helped either.

In fact, my last post even pertaining to affiliate marketing was 6-months ago!

And so, I thought it was long overdue for another post on the wonderful and cruel world of affiliate marketing.

One of the things I absolutely used to hate was creating landing pages/sites for my campaigns. It took a lot of time, could be very stressful (cross-browser compatibility, for example), and was just yet another thing you had to test. It was annoying, and as a result I ended up direct linking most of the time and whenever I could, as it was just a lot faster and easier.

But now, I love landing pages. Once I realized just how much a difference they made on campaigns, I was hooked. I also love the never-ending challenge of trying to improve the conversion rate of them.

No Secrets Here

So, this guide or process on how I optimize and landing pages contains no secrets or super advanced techniques. It’s just basic A/B (well, A/B/C/D/E/F/G) split-testing, which is the heart of affiliate marketing. It’s beginner stuff.

But I thought I’d share it anyway to emphasize the value of landing pages and just how much a difference a truly optimized landing page can make.

Real Case Example

A couple days ago, I launched a new campaign and set it up to rotate between 2 of the direct advertiser landing pages and 1 landing page, with a 50% split between the advertiser landing pages.

The ROI on the the direct links were –47.94% and +51.73%. The 1st landing page paths were 157.95% and 143.82%:

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Good right? Well, yes, but I knew I could do better as this wasn’t my first rodeo.

Landing page #2 didn’t do well (86%), but I had a strong suspicion it wouldn’t.

Landing page #3 took me 5 hours of non-stop coding and designing to create (although I’ve spent far longer on landing pages before… like a week straight of work!) which I did yesterday, and it ended up closely matching the returns of my first landing page.

On my 4th landing page, which only took me 10 minutes to make as it was some simple variations on landing page #3, my ROI shot up to 218.25 and 360.83%!

So as you can see, if I had only ever tested the 1 advertiser landing page and direct linked to it, I would have had a –47.94% ROI. I can’t tell you how many affiliates would just claim the campaign as a loser and walk away at this point.

With just some simple testing, you can see that I actually managed to yield a 360.83% ROI from the exact same campaign.

Again, this is a real example of a campaign I’m currently running.

And this is just a basic example too. I’ve actually run campaigns where I’ve created and tested around 80-90 landing pages! I tend to get a bit obsessive over trying to constantly achieve higher ROI’s.

The Process

As I said in the affiliate marketing chatroom yesterday, I look at what I do with landing pages as evolution.

Step #1

First, I start by testing the direct advertiser link (or links) which acts as the control and conversion rate to compare against. Let’s say it has a 1.9% conversion rate.

Step #2

I will create a series of completely different styles of landing pages for the offer, the key phrase here being "completely different styles".

The idea here is to find an outlier that stands out from the rest so you know which path to continue to take.128

Most of the time, on new campaigns, I’ll simply use my best old or existing landing pages, make some basic edits on them to make them applicable for the offer, and run those. The more landing pages you have in your arsenal, the easier this gets.

I will usually put each landing page into the rotation as I make them, but what is important at this stage is again to test a multitude of completely different styles. Do not make minor changes at this point!

Step #3

After you’ve run completely different styles, you will have a winner. There will always be a winner. Even if you’re still in the negative ROI (which you very likely will be) at this stage, you will still have a landing page that is doing better than the rest.129

In this example, we can see that LP #9 is the winner with a 2.33% CR (already an improvement from the 1.9% direct link rate). It is very important that you drive enough traffic before moving on though. Since we’re exclusively using conversion rate as our landing page metric, it means that you will need a lot of conversions before moving on from here.

How many depends on what you’re promoting and your budget… the higher the payout, the less conversions you’ll be able to wait for due to high expense. The lower the payout, the higher the conversions you should be testing for. For example, on mobile app campaigns I’d say no less than 10 conversions per landing page at this stage.

So with LP #9 as our winner, we then take this style and start to test basic elements of it. For example, I may test the background colour to see if that has a noticeable affect on conversion rates. So I’ll create a few variations of LP #9 (not as many as in step #2; in step #2 you want a good number of variations) and put them into the rotation and wait for the results.

Step #4

Here are our results:

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So here we can see that the background colour did make a difference, but not much. A spread of 0.35% CR which isn’t huge but it does make a difference, especially with volume.

LP #14 is our winner here, so now we’ll keep that background colour and test something else. Maybe the size of the main image.

Create those variations and throw it into the machine and wait again.

Step #5

Don’t be afraid to test weird stuff. Also, don’t ever assume what will work and won’t.

Some of my best performers (especially for banners) have been stuff that I never would have thought would work, but tested "just in case" anyway.

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That didn’t appear to be the case in this scenario though (LP #16 and LP #17 with their really small main images didn’t perform well), but we did find a new winner – LP#15 with a 2.75% CR.

I should also mention here that you obviously won’t always beat your previous best converting lander (in this case LP #14). That’s normal. It just means you need to keep testing more variations at the corresponding stage.

Anyhow, it appears that the reduced main image converted best, so we will now test another element. How about the bottom half of the page?

Step #6

We’re already up to 22 landing pages. That takes a lot of time, effort, and money to buy all the traffic, but it will pay for itself in the long run. We’re doing this all for the long term benefits.

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If we look closely, we can notice a little bit of a trend here, which brings me to my next point – analyzing. Always try to analyze why a landing page is converting better (although sometimes you will have no idea why!). In this example, we can see that pure text does not do as well as call-to-action items such as arrows and buttons, and that the arrows in particular are doing the best.

Step #7

This could actually be Step #30, as you should be doing a ton of testing before deciding to settle on a "final" landing page, but for sake of this post we will fast forward a few steps.

In this case, 41 landing pages later, we came up with this ultimate winner:

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You’ll notice that the background changed to a gradient – remember, you have to constantly test. Just because we tested the background colours in the beginning doesn’t mean that that was set in stone… after all, we made a number of changes after that, so maybe the background on the new changes would have a different effect.

So in the end, after a lot of work, we improved our CR from the control direct link of 1.9% to LP#41 of 4.24%. This was just an example, but everything I provided has been very realistic numbers based from my experience.

Never underestimate how much a landing page can transform your campaign. Be ruthless with your testing. Forget just testing 1 or 2 landing pages. Try 50 and compare your results. You might just thank me Smile

Designing Yourself versus Outsourcing or Stealing

One of the questions I get asked a lot is if I create my own banners and landing pages or if I outsource the work.

I can tell you that I still do 100% of the work myself.

I’ve tried outsourcing the work by hiring landing page designers before, but it just didn’t work out for me for 3 reasons:

  • Way too expensive (up to $1,500!) – Yes, I know there are some guys who will do it for like $50 but it’s always super low quality from what I’ve seen.
  • Slow – I had to wait generally 4-7 days which is just too slow.
  • Poor conversion! – The entire point of landing pages is to improve your conversion rate, and I’ve always had better success with my own landing pages.

Regarding stealing… everyone does it… in fact, I’d guess that more affiliates steal than create their own landing pages.

While stealing other people’s landing pages will certainly save you time, it’s not always the best decision. Apart from being unethical (and technically illegal), you’re still not going to the as good results as you would by ruthlessly split-testing landing pages yourself.

After all, every campaign is different. A landing page that might do well for offer A on traffic source B on banner C on targeting D might not do well for offer A on traffic source X on banner Y on targeting Z…

…which leads me to my next point – after you spend countless hours working on your ultimate landing page, you may find that another affiliate blatantly steals it for himself and you throw your hands up in the air and proclaim "that’s no fair! I spent so much time and effort on it!".

Well, yes, it sucks when someone steals your work, but remember what I just wrote above:

A landing page that might do well for offer A on traffic source B on banner C on targeting D might not do well for offer A on traffic source X on banner Y on targeting Z…

So they may have your landing page, but it might not be the best tool for the job. For example, if you’re targeting religious people, it may just turn out that religious people are more likely to relate with a red background, for example. Who knows. Only the data knows.

In addition, I’ve actually learned a lot of really cool tricks and tips by doing all the work myself Winking smile.

More Optimizing!

Don’t forget that the optimizing never ends.

You want to optimize your images and media files by reducing their size (while not sacrificing too much quality) for faster loading time.

Your code should be optimized for cross-browser compatibility and W3C standards, etc.

Media files should be put on a CDN server, especially for international traffic.

As you can see, there really is no end to optimization.

Multivariate Testing

I’ll end this guide by touching on multivariate split-testing.

Multivariate split-testing is usually an automated process in which you provide multiple things to test at the same time, and the program will test them all for you without you having to create 500 different landing pages.

For example, you might provide 5 different main images, 5 background colours, and 5 heading titles. The system would then split-test traffic to 125 (5x5x5) unique iterations of each combination for you.

This is an extremely powerful tool, but I believe works best by testing one thing at a time. And there are also limitations in that it really only changes existing elements on a page such as colours, images, and ad copy. It won’t test layout or multiple pages, for example.

As a result, I think that multivariate testing is probably most beneficial after you’ve reached around Step #6 in my process from above.

Get Cracking!

So have you ever really pushed yourself when it comes to split-testing landing pages? Have you only ever tried 1-2 landing pages on a campaign?

Give it a shot… put in the work and see if you can get a higher conversion rate after 20-30+ landing pages.

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Posted: June 27th, 2015 under Affiliate Marketing  

15 Responses to “My Process for Optimizing Landing Pages”

  1. marek says:

    Hi,
    how much traffic would i need to make such a test?

    • Tyler Cruz says:

      A lot… but as mentioned in the post, it depends on your traffic type. For search you would use a lot less, for something like pops you would use a lot more.

  2. Terrence says:

    Hi Tyler, thanks for the insightful post on landing pages. I found it especially useful especially since I’m at the stage where I finally understand tracking, servers, and basic banner/LP creation.

    I’m assuming that this post pertains to an offer that is already converting; how do you get to finding a converting offer? Are you spending a minimum of 2-3x payout, and evaluating from there? Or are you simply direct linking a bunch of different offers and then sticking to the ones that show the most promise right out of the gate?

    Also, can you share a few examples of advanced optimization concepts that a super affiliate would be focused on once they get past the basic split tests?

    • Tyler Cruz says:

      This post pertains to any campaign I run… I always run the direct link first to act as the control (since the visitor will end up having to go there inevitably/). I usually won’t bother running landing pages if the direct link doesn’t convert at all (like after 4-6x+ payout per target) or if it’s extremely poor (like -90% ROI). If it shows signs of life (-30% ROI or so) then I’ll run landing pages.

      As for the offer – pick one then only test that. Landing page testing is down the list of things you should be testing first… the offer and traffic source should be first, then targeting, then creative, then landing pages.

  3. TaeWoo says:

    One of the best explanations of LP for direct response marketing. Excellent write up.

  4. techigyaan says:

    I hope you’re better now.

    Thank you very much for this article it offers some great insight into conversions and certainly I have not carried out enough split testing. Keep up the great work!

  5. Mike says:

    Hi Tyler.. In your step #2 you have 10 landers with different styles.

    But how about the angle? Do you just using 1 angle (same) for that landers?

    Thanks

    • Tyler Cruz says:

      Yes, this is all using the same angle so as to isolate the variables. I would test angles separately, and then optimize the LP’s around the angles.

      • Mike says:

        Any advice what to test first, Angles or Styles?
        For noobs like me, that’s pretty confusing to decide.

        • Tyler Cruz says:

          Angles should be tested before banners and landing pages, but offers should be tested before angles. And don’t forget traffic sources 🙂

          • Mike says:

            Thanks for your reply.

            From that I make a conclusion, test the offer first? But how to properly test it? (with good angles and proven landers?)

            In this case, I don’t use banners, I’m using pop traffic.

          • Tyler Cruz says:

            Personally I will just test the direct link with multiple offers first. If the offer is in a niche where I already have a proven lander then I’ll throw that into the rotation as well. My focus at the beginning is to see if the offer itself has a good base of conversion. If it’s -30% ROI with a direct link then I know it stands a good chance of becoming profitable with optimization.

  6. Jonathan says:

    Hi Tyler, very interesting what you say about first testing direct linking. How you know at first when a offer dont converts? When you give up and look for another?

    • Tyler Cruz says:

      It really depends on the offer, payout, niche, and traffic source. On a $20 CPA for example I might spend $500 or so before deeming it as a loser (assuming 0 conversions come in).

PeerFly

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