If you’ve been in the digital marketing game for a while, you’ve probably heard this before…
“Conversion optimization never really ends.”
There’s always some way to squeeze a little more revenue out of your website.
But when you get things humming along at a certain level, getting any kind of significant gain often means going beyond all the ‘best practices’ and template copy formulas and testing something a little different.
The following story shows how in-depth research and really targeting your message can pay off big time.
This sales page was no slouch.
It was doing a fine job of turning website visitors into paid customers of LivePlan — a powerful SaaS product that helps you write a professional business plan and then track your performance (we’ve been using it at Good Funnel for over a year now).
The in-house marketing team, which has a fantastic testing culture, had already worked hard at optimizing the page and racking up incremental ‘wins’.
When they hired us to bring in a fresh perspective, we knew this wouldn’t be an easy gig. So we did a swack-load of customer research, including:
- 11 phone interviews with customers
- Qualaroo survey data
- Interviews with LivePlan customer support staff
- Mining voice of customer data in reviews
And then, working with the LivePlan team, we revamped the landing page. That’s it to the right >>>>
The new version boosted the paid conversion rate by another 65%. Boo-ya.
Time to rest? Call it a job well done?
Because while I was working on that project, there was always one question that kept nagging at me…
Were we really joining the conversation in
the reader’s head when they hit that page?
In other words, was the messaging we used truly reflecting what the reader was thinking and feeling — right at that moment — about purchasing LivePlan business planning software?
I wasn’t 100% sure about that.
Because despite all the customer research we did and the A/B tests we ran, I suspected there was a HUGE question that LivePlan prospects had that just wasn’t being answered well enough.
So with the help of LivePlan’s designers, we ran one more test.
Check out the results below — can you guess what that ‘huge’ question was that we answered with the variation?
Here are the 2 hero sections we tested
Now keep in mind, we ONLY revised the hero sections — all the content below the fold was the same.
And that managed to bring in a 72% increase in paid conversions, which translated into a 53% increase in overall revenue when you consider average order value.
How did we get that lift?
And what exactly was the question we answered?
I’ll get to that soon. But first, a little background…
We zeroed in on what they were thinking/feeling
the exact moment they hit the page
Let’s back things up a bit to when we first started working on this page.
One thing I believe strongly in is that you can’t optimize in isolation — you need to understand the context that brought visitors to the landing page in the first place. So initially, we spent a lot of time doing research into exactly what was going through the readers’ mind when they landed on this sales page.
First, we used Qualaroo popup surveys to gather data right at the very moment they arrive at the page we were optimizing. But as great a tool as that is, those short one-line responses lacked the context we needed.
So we also did good ol’ fashioned interviews with LivePlan customers who had purchased the product within the past 30 days. And we got them to tell us the story around how they came to discover LivePlan and eventually buy it.
And then, to make sure we really understood the audience’s mindset, I mapped the customer journey based on copywriting legend Eugene’s Swartz’s five levels of awareness. I also wrote out mini-stories to the visualize the path they took to conversion. Here’s the condensed version of one scenario:
1) The bank tells our prospect — let’s call him Jim — that he needs a business plan in order to get a loan to start his new business: a downtown coffee shop.
2) Jim has no idea how to write one. He tries to do it on his own, but has no idea where to start. He feels overwhelmed and frustrated (this fellow is now ‘problem aware’).
3) He Googles ‘business plan examples’ to try and find something he can use as a guide.
4) Jim clicks a headline that takes him to the page below ↘. It’s filled with different sample business plans.
He’s feeling optimistic and excited now. At last, Jim can finally start working on that business plan and get his moola from the bank. So he clicks on a ‘sample cafe business plan.’
5) But as he starts reading, his optimism fades. The sample plan looks great, but it becomes even clearer how much work is required to write a business plan.
He doesn’t want to put in the long hours needed to get the plan done — in addition to his day job and everything else he needs to do to get his business up and running.
6) But then he sees that big, beautiful blue button calling him to ‘Start Your Own business Plan’. He clicks…
That’s where our sales page comes in.
So with this customer journey in mind, combined with the other data we had collected about the ‘Jim’ persona, we were confident that:
✅ The audience was very much problem or ‘pain’ aware and reading the sample business plans likely agitated that pain.
✅ They wanted to get their plan done quickly — no more messing around with DIY options. After all, that plan was standing between them and the money they needed to get their business going.
✅ They wanted to make sure people like them — in Jim’s case, other cafe owners — were using LivePlan. And they wanted to know if would work for their industry.
✅ They wanted to feel confident they’d get the outcome they wanted. Which, in their words, was to have a business plan that’ll “wow lenders and investors.”
✅ And most of all, they wanted proof that LivePlan really would make writing a business plan easier (‘cos no one wants to mess around with tricky financial calculations).
Next, we wrote copy that joined the
conversation in their head
This is where having a clear messaging hierarchy is key. It’s crucial to know what to say and when to say it on a landing page.
So considering all the points listed above (and others), we restructured the messaging roughly into this:
➜ Immediately provide a solution to the problem that’s been agitated at that moment (Easily create a business plan…”)
➜ Reinforce the outcome they want (…”that’ll wow lenders and investors.” This phrase was repeated A LOT by customers as well)
➜ Demonstrate that others just like them are using it (testimonials, stats etc)
➜ Prove how simple and easy LivePlan really is
➜ Leverage testimonials to show how their life will change by using it
And yeah, this strategy worked. A 65% paid lift isn’t too shabby.
But did you notice we left something out?
That question I alluded to earlier…
People wanted to feel that folks exactly like them (or who they aspired to be like) were using LivePlan.
They wanted to know: “Will LivePlan really work for my specific industry?”
And that turned out to be one very big question.
Finally, we tested ultra-targeted messaging
The qualitative data showed that folks often thought of business plans as being specific to certain industries.
You have your restaurant business plans. Your retail business plans. Your lawyer business plans etc.
But that’s not really the case. Sure, all business plans are different but they follow the same general structure — which LivePlan has baked into its software.
So it really is a one-size fits all software solution.
But that’s tough to explain to people. And I knew using a generic chunk of copy like “works for every industry” would set off folks’ BS-detectors.
We needed to do more than that.
Here was the hypothesis for this test: Using industry-specific messaging, based on the sample plan page they just clicked-through from, will result in a higher conversion rate.
In other words, say someone was reading a sample business plan for a cafe or coffee shop. If they clicked the call to action button while reading that plan, they’d go to a special version of the landing page that had messaging that reflected the coffee shop industry.
Still with me? Cool.
In fact, we did focus on the cafe/coffee industry first — mainly because these sample business plans hauled in enough traffic for us to run a proper A/B test.
We dug up a fantastic case study from happy LivePlan user and successful cafe operator Brian Sung and replaced the video (yes, the video!) with his smiling face. The hero copy was re-written as below:
We switched up the calls to action as well after dropping the explainer video — choosing to play up the ‘Learn More’ CTA (which is next on our list of tests) that links to the ‘how it works’ section below. Just to make sure they understood the value of LivePlan before hitting the pricing page.
As I said before, this test turned in a 73% paid lift. There are a few factors at play, but here’s what we hypothesized was driving conversions:
✅ The new hero section addresses a major objection/question about LivePlan before the reader even thinks of it: “will LivePlan work for my industry?”
✅ It’s instantly relatable for the reader. They see Brian Sung as someone they aspire to be: a successful cafe owner. Classic social proof at play.
✅ The headline immediately tackles a motivating problem: they dread spending days trying to write a complicated business plan.
✅ They messaging doesn’t come across as salesy….yet it does ‘sell’ LivePlan nevertheless by providing clear and convincing proof from the get-go.
Interestingly, we got the lift even after dropping a key message that was repeated multiple times by LivePlan customers: “I want a business plan that will wow lenders and investors.”
And for that reason, the amount of conversion increase from this test kinda surprised me.
Research was key here. Without doing the interviews and gathering the survey data, we would have never suspected that the “will this work for my industry?” question was so dominant for entrepreneurs considering LivePlan.
This case study highlights how great products can help their audience make a decision by understanding exactly what they are thinking/feeling at specific moments as they navigate the website.
Because the fine art of contextual messaging and segmentation doesn’t just result in higher conversion rates. It also means happier customers who feel more confident that they have made the right decision.
Special thanks to the awesome team at LivePlan for allowing us to share this story with our readers.