Dear Marketing Ninjas, Get Human Feedback Before A/B Testing Your Landing Pages | Online Sales Guide Tips

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Hi there fellow marketing ninja (or just digital marketer as we used to be called)

Hope 2015 started out good for you.

My main work resolution for 2015 is to focus on people.

– I don’t care about gaining more followers if I don’t get to talk to them.
– I don’t want more email subscribers if the only thing I know about them is when and how many times they open my emails.
– And… I don’t care if my conversion rate goes up by 5% after I change the text on my CTA. I want to know “why”. Why people chose our product over others or why they are not buying from my landing page.

Talking about landing pages…

I know how time consuming building a great landing page can be.

Especially when it’s the first landing page you build for your company!

Seriously, we need to come up with a good headline, a good call to action, gather engaging testimonials, find good graphics… And all that with a really conceptual knowledge of who our potential customers really are.

Sounds familiar? (Please tell me it’s not just me!)

The first time I designed a Landing Page for CustomerIcare I was LOST.

It was the beginning, we decided to launch some Adwords campaign and had little to no idea of what customers would really think of the product.

Sure I did some research, picked a target, looked at what our competitors where doing…

I also spent a lot of time reading about landing page optimization from the color of the perfect call to action to headline copy and page layout.

There’s just so much information out there! Even if all of us marketing folks joined hands, it would take us a lifetime to read and put everything to the test.
Without mentioning the fact that what worked for someone else might not work for you!

Join our inner circle to get a detailed list of 50 tools and websites to get feedback on your landing pages

(+ a bonus questionnaire to help you define your page’s main focus)

Now I look back at those landing pages and cringe.
It’s like looking at this old awkward blog you were running with your friends in middle school (no you won’t get to see that. EVER. I think (pray) that it has been deleted).

Sorry about the personal rant.
Landing page optimization just overwhelms me!

Now stay with me, we’re getting to the helpful part (promise).

Then, I realized I wasn’t optimizing for people, I was acting like a machine

A machine with a checklist and a belief that other people had some magical knowledge of what my customers wanted to see.

People are not all programmed to be attracted to red CTA buttons.
They don’t care about the fact that your headline contains the exact same keywords as your ads.

They just want to know how you can help them!

Don’t get me wrong, A/B test is a must.
Later On.

First you’ll need to get some sort of validation of your concept.

I have one question for you today:

Do You Really Know Who Your Product Is For?

Seriously, think about it for a second.

Why did you (or the CEO of your company) create the product or service you are trying to sell? Does it solve a problem for you?
For someone you know?
Or for a theoretical customer you’ve never met yet?

Let’s take Dropbox for example.

During a time when people were struggling with transferring files from one device to another, Dropbox made it simple.
Just drag and drop your file in Dropbox.
Here you go, you’re welcome!

But did the founders just woke up one morning, and think “oh I guess lots of people are frustrated with carrying USB keys everywhere”.
Well honestly I’m not in their head so I will probably never know.
But my guess would be: NO, they did not.

It’s what they did when launching that’s important:
They gathered feedback!

The Slideshare below tells their story way better than I do:

See what they did?
They first improved their landing page with the feedback they got from HackerNews.
Later on, they kept improving by looking at how their actual customers were thinking and acting.

They didn’t become successful thanks to word of mouth marketing.
They became successful because word of mouth marketing was the perfect fit for their customers.

It all starts with an assumption

That’s the honest truth.
Almost every first landing page is based on an assumption.

I’m not saying your assumption is based on nothing more than your morning shower thoughts.
What I’m saying is that marketers and entrepreneurs often have little to no knowledge of their actual customers when they get started.

For the good reason that they often have little to no customers!

The important thing is to seek validation for your assumption as early as you can.

Here you have a choice:
– you can design 20 different landing pages with different copy targeted to different people and see which one performs better
– you can design 1 or 2 and start asking people for feedback

There are things data can’t tell you

The problem with A/B tests is that you design them. You are testing YOUR ideas.

What if you missed something?
What if your customers are not who you think they are?

People will tell you that. A/B testing won’t.

A/B test are meant to improve on something you know already works.
Let’s be real, in the beginning, you have no way to tell if your idea will actually work.

Where Do People Even Go To Get Feedback On Their Landing Pages?

Before we get into online resources, take a good look at your inner circle (friends, colleagues, family…).

Run a quick test with them: Ask them to look at your page for 10 seconds and ask them what the page is about after.

If they can’t tell you what you are selling, you’ve done something wrong.

You know how you start missing the most obvious things when you work on something for too long?
Always try to get the opinion of someone outside of your field of work.
If they understand what you do, your clients will get it too.

Now here’s how you can get feedback from total strangers from all around the world (sounds exciting, right?):

Ask For Feedback Directly On Your Landing Page

A great way to improve your pages “as you go” is to ask for feedback directly on your landing page.

It implies that you already have a good idea of which market you want to target. It will then help you either confirm your idea and improve on your copy or find out early on that you are maybe not targeting the right people.

Either way, it’s an amazing way to get direct feedback from potential clients and not only marketing professionals.

Here are few tools you can test out to gather this kind of feedback:

We’ve received some really good feedback about our website using live chat and I now consider it an essential tool to have on any landing page.
A chat window can be a powerful lead generation tool when used right and we see more and more smaller business implementing it early on to get more insights on their target market. After noticing this, we decided to offer a free for life starter CustomerIcare plan to make it easier for smaller businesses to get started.
This will of course require you to be available to answer chats at least during few hours a day. But you’ll still be able to gather leads while offline using the integrated message form.

Want to read more about using live chat on landing pages?
Check out our Slideshare presentation: Why You Should Use Live Chat On Your Landing Pages

There are many solutions out there offering this technology. OptinMonster is a rather affordable solution with a large range of features. It is primarily built to help you collect email addresses but you can customize the window which will allow you to design it for feedback collection.

Contrary to pop-up apps that mostly specialize in lead generation, those apps are built to help you collect feedback.
One of the most popular ones is UserVoice. It’s a simple window that will show up at the bottom of your page like the chat window and ask people for feedback.
You can choose to run a survey or show a simple blank message field.

Let’s not forget about the basics! You can easily tweak your basic contact us form to turn it into a feedback tool.
Just change its title for “Do you have any feedback for us? Anything you would change about this page?”. Sure, most visitors will ignore it but it should help you collect very useful feedback from at least a few potential customers.

Online Communities and Forums

They are going to become your best ally in this search for the perfect landing page.

Forums are far from dead!
They just matured and (much like George Clooney) turned into good looking mofos (ok some of them at least).

Since I love you, please enjoy this list of the hottest online communities as per today and my own personal judgement:

It’s the hella good looking baby of Hubspot and it’s already a huge resource for all online marketers out there.
They recently opened a group where you can post your landing page to get feedback on it.

– GrowthHackers

That’s where all the cool growth hacking kids share articles about how they increase conversions and gain new customers. But it’s also a great place to get feedback on your landing page. Just select “Ask Question” on the Submit page and ask away!

Really active but extremely tech savvy community. I am not a big fan of the design but it’s definitely the number one community for all tech/startup related questions.
You can ask people to review your landing page under the Ask section. Just remember to put a clear description of what kind of feedback you’d like to hear before posting a link to your page.

Founded by the owner of one of the biggest small business and startup groups on Linkedin, the community has been steadily growing since its launch at the end of 2014. There’s a special category for asking for feedback called the Dragon’s Den.
You might not get as many comments there than on HN, GH or Inbound but you’re 100% sure to get reviews from experienced small business owner who’ve been through landing page designing before.

Owned by, this is one of the biggest and most active Digital Marketing forums out there. You can ask for feedback or help with your landing page on the conversion optimization category. Just remember that the principle of a community is to give before you ask for a favor. I am not familiar with Warrior Forum rules but it never hurts to show other members you actually want to be part of the community and not just leech on their knowledge.

The forum focuses on helping entrepreneurs achieve success. Based on the ideas of the book “The Millionaire Fastlane”, it is a great place to meet motivated entrepreneurs. There’s a feed dedicated to Marketing, Sales, Social Media and Copywriting where people post advice but also ask for feedback.

The list could go on indefinitely but those are great starting points if you own or are working for a startup or small business. Just keep in mind that those communities are rather internet and tech oriented.

The good thing is that they are used to building and seeing landing pages.

If you are looking for more specific advice from people in your industry, you can run a quick google search for forums in your niche.
Since Google disabled the custom search for forums (discussions) you can just use a simple search structure: [insert name of your niche] + forum. For example “fashion forum”.
I’d also suggest you look for lists of the “best” forums in your niche. Just add “best” at the beginning of the search and enjoy the work of others!

If you are going ask for reviews there, just remember that forums are based on exchange and conversations so take time to answer a few other feeds before posting your question.

Forum marketing can be really beneficial for your business without mentioning all the interesting like-minded people you can meet there. But that’s a topic for another article…

Social Media Networks

Social media might not be as social as I’d wish it was but it’s still a great place to connect with people around the world.
Targeting more professional networks should help you gather quality feedback on your pages!

– Quora

I really like Quora. If you’re looking for feedback or just have a question, that’s where you should go! The crowd there is quite business minded and you’ll find a lot of successful entrepreneurs.

To get feedback on your landing page just post a new question along those lines “Need feedback on my new landing page” “What do you think about my new landing page (please be brutally honest)”. Or anything asking for help/advice/opinion…

Add the link to your landing page in the description after a small text summarizing why you are asking for feedback and few words about your company.

You’ll then be able to ask people to answer your question. Quora will probably not suggest you anyone that’s “free to ask” but know that most people still don’t require you to pay Quora credits to get their opinion. What I usually do is that I search for a topic (in that case marketing or startup…), look at the list of members and then search for their name manually in the ask people to answer window.

– Reddit

The Reddit community hates spammers but they love to help out by giving their opinion.

Check out the r/startups and r/entrepreneur subreddits to ask for feedback on your landing page. Just remember to include a short text or description explaining why you need help before you put a link.

I’ve seen people asking for feedback on both so this kind of post is actually welcome if you appear to genuinely be looking for help and not just promote your business.

– Linkedin

You can start by inmailing people in your network asking for their opinion. Don’t spam them if they don’t answer right away. It’s just a good way to collect few ideas from people you already know.

Once you’ve done that, you can search for Linkedin groups in your niche or focused on marketing.

The only problem with those groups is that most of users aren’t active commenters. Some read and a lot of them just post links to their own content making it hard to actually get noticed.

Here are 5 rather active groups where you should be able to get some feedback: Inbound Marketers, Small Business Network By Staples, Ecommerce and Online Marketing Experts, Landing Page Optimization Network, Online Lead Generation.

Include the link to your website at the end of your description and not in the title to avoid looking spammy. I also suggest you don’t show the link preview as lots of group owners might flag it as spam and never publish your post all together.

Don’t forget to regularly check on your posts and take part in the conversation. You’ll get to know way more this way and might even meet potential customers along the way.

Paid User Testing

If you have some money to invest, try running few tests on websites like User Think or User Testing.

You’ll get to choose which users you want testing your page and design a quick testing process for them with questions. Selected users will then go on your page and record themselves as they perform certain actions and answer your questions.

It can be a great way to have a first external opinion about your landing page from a less tech savvy crowd.

If you are looking to run a quick test and don’t really need in-depth data, you can give Usability Hub a try. I just tried it out as a tester and really like it.
It seems free so I suppose you might not get as many testers as with the paying solutions.

Now, The Hardest Part: Getting Over Your Fear Of Feedback

You know why many of us turn to A/B testing right away? It’s nor quick, nor easy but it is comfortable.

What I mean is that it doesn’t really gets you to step out of your comfort zone.

And you know what does? Asking people what they think of your work…
The truth is you’ll get “not-so-nice” feedback and that’s what will help you improve.
Yet it doesn’t make it easier to hear.

Fast Company wrote a great article called “9 Ways To Get Over Your Feedback Fear”

Remember It’s Impossible To Please Everyone

No matter how hard you try, no matter how good you are, you will never manage to please everyone.

With that in mind, you need to have a good idea of who you want to please before you get started.

You might for example want to provide an easy solution to smaller businesses. In that case feedback from a big company asking you for a more complete and complicated solution might not be the best feedback for you.

Derek Halpern wrote an amazing article about this rightfully called “You can’t make everyone happy – stop trying”.

The truth is, we’re all affected by negative feedback.
It’s human to want to make things right and have people love us.

It’s a human thing to do, but in the long run, it might kill your business.

Use Your Flaws to Make Your Strengths Even Stronger

Successful People are not flawless, they’re just really good at one or two things.

This is true about you but it will also be true about your landing page.
You need to focus on 1 thing and do it the best you can.

Let’s say for example that you don’t have the best design skills and don’t have money to pay for a top-notch web designer. Stop focusing on all the good looking designs you don’t have and start focusing on what you can do!

No design skills might mean that you can build a simple landing page with a strong focus on the copy.

Look at SpringSled’s landing page for example.
The first thing that comes to mind is: SIMPLE.

It’s simple, yes. But effective, as it has allowed them to get tons of early sign-ups.

If you are selling to smaller businesses know that what you consider a weakness can also become a strength.

Let’s consider this for example: As a startup you’re the outsider facing giants of your industry. Well, you are not the only one feeling this way. All small business owners do.

As an outsider, you are not the “safe” choice but you are the “human” choice.

If you think for one second that customers don’t let their emotions guide their business purchases, you are lying to yourself my friends.

In both B2C and B2B, buyers are partly guided by their emotions.

If you manage to tap into that and make them feel like you are on the same boat, people might choose you for your weakness.

You Can’t Take It Personally

I know, I know, easier said than done right.
But in that case, not taking it personally is crucial.

Nothing good can come from taking feedback too personally when it comes to your work.
It would either make you doubt every single one of your choices or you’d just find a reason not to listen to the feedback you received.

If you tend to take things very personally like me (I still think about people unsubscribing from our newsletter 1 month ago), just look at feedback like a random research or A/B test.
Look at it with a scientific eye.

Instead of thinking people are bashing you and your lack of skills, look for keywords and ideas that were mentioned more than once. Instead of just reading, start classifying the feedback…

And don’t forget, it is ok to ignore some feedback!
If you receive comments like “the color is so ugly” “I don’t like your writing”, just quickly read through them and delete them.
They are stating a judgement but not bringing anything to the table whatsoever.
Ugly color doesn’t mean anything to you.
I don’t like… doesn’t tell you much.

If you have time or a lot of this kind of comments, you can ask those user for more information instead of just ignoring their contribution.

To sum it all up… Go gather feedback. NOW!

You know what, let’s make a deal:

Post a link to your landing page in the comments with a small description of what you are using it for and I’ll give you your first feedback on it!

Don’t tell me what you are selling, I just need to know from where people arrive to your page!

Sounds good?
Let’s make this your first step on your feedback quest then!


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