developing ad creative on a computer

The Beginner’s Guide to High-Performance, Channel-Specific Ad Creative

developing ad creative on a computer

When balancing the main components of a growth marketing tactic (strategy + targeting + creative), there comes a time when many organizations find themselves in a chicken-and-egg scenario: which comes first? Is it the campaign strategy and targeting that should dictate creative? Or should great creative—backed by battle-tested value props and watertight messaging—lead the way into a strategy that can really bring it to life; serving it to the right people, and driving up conversion?

The short answer: it depends. (I know, I know).

In a perfect world, the world in which giants like Verison, Budweiser, Nike, and other Super-Bowl-ready players operate, there’s an endless well of data at the ready to inform all of the above. And you’d know what creative works best on which channel paired with which optimized audiences, etcetera, etcetera. But! If you’re here, you’re likely looking for a growth marketing agency that can operate with trim budgets, run efficient tests, and use scrappy creative to drive quick wins and set the stage for scaling. 

So, before we talk about creative, we’ll need to broach the topic: what kind of creative do you already have at your disposal? Your answer to this question might help you hone in on which channels are your best starting point. Here’s our quick guide:

Making the Most of Creative You Already Have

Before you jump headlong into creating a full new library of creative for the channels on which you’d like to run ads, revisit your existing assets with a fresh lens! How about that product shoot you shot last year? What’s left in the B-Roll folder? Revisit that brand video you commissioned for your sales team. Check in with your videographer to see if you might be able to snag some other shots out of his archives to repurpose instead of planning a full new shoot. 

Still Photography/Images:

  • Suitable for: Facebook/Instagram, LinkedIn, Reddit, Twitter, Gmail Ads, Display Advertising, Email Marketing
  • Make them ad-ready: Hire a freelance designer (we love UpWork) or get your own hands dirty with a drag-and-drop tool like Canva. Add simple on-image copy and your logo in an unobtrusive way so it’s super easy for a user to understand who you are and what you do in a flash. 

Owned assets (meaning images, illustrations, or other graphics that have been created specifically for your brand) are typically much more impactful and drive better results than stock photography. But, that doesn’t mean you should rule out stock! 

GIFs or Simple Motion

  • Suitable for: Facebook/Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Gmail Ads, Display Advertising, Email Marketing
  • Make them ad-ready: Ensure your freelance designer from UpWork has the ability to accomplish simple animations in After Effects or a similar program. Canva also has some simple, easy-to-use motion templates as well. The same advice goes for GIFs or simple motion in your video — make sure it’s super easy for your audience to get the message. If possible, even keep the copy to 5 words or less. 

Super simple motion, like animated text flashing over a still image or a 3 second looping video almost always performs better than still imagery across all the above channels.

Video

  • Suitable for: TikTok, Snapchat, YouTube, Facebook/Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Gmail Ads (as longer as they’re under 30 seconds long)
  • Make them ad-ready: Swing back by Upwork and find yourself a scrappy video editor that can help you recreate ad-ready assets. Ensure product placement (or super strong branded elements) appear within the first 3 seconds and that your video does not run longer than 30 seconds in length.

No matter if you’ve got a branded video, YouTube reviews, or a scrappy library of shot-on-iPhone video, it’s definitely worth splicing, dicing, resizing, and testing video against your still assets.  

🚨 Important! Before you start drawing up your strategy, investigating your targeting options, and setting aside budget, be sure to check out this Creative Ad Specs cheat sheet to make sure your files are large enough and are either in the right aspect ratio or can easily be reconfigured.

Pro tip: you’ll (likely) see better results quicker if—instead of creating brand-new creative—you instead focus on resizing your existing assets to fit each placement. 

How to Create High-Performance, Channel-Specific Ad Creative

If you only take ONE thing away from this whole article: don’t bust your budget on creative. Our approach (and, truly, the only way we can get behind creative production): test, test, test. Then, only then, consider investing in more high-value/bigger-production creative after you’ve gotten an opportunity to really hone in on the messaging and visuals that drive down cost per click (CPC) and drive up conversion rate (CVR).

Here at Tuff, when we take on creative production on behalf of—or alongside—one of our partners, here’s the approach we take:

The Tuff Timeline: Creating, Deploying, and Learning From Creative

When you hire a revenue and conversion-first growth marketing agency like Tuff, before we dig into pre-production, we’ll ensure the first weeks of our engagement are centered on rapid, actionable testing so that we can confidently make new creative that really resonates (and is worth the cost).

Days 1-3

Before we spend a dollar, we’ll start by digging into your target audience and validating/battle testing your value props. Based on the site experience, your sales materials, and what we can learn from you, are we confident that we can make creative that can hit the right people with the right message at the right time? 

Days 3-5

From there, we’ll get into concepting. If “fair, modern and inexpensive insurance” are the strongest high-level value props (for example), we’ll build creative ideas around them and workshop them with you to make sure we’re aligned.

We’ll create three very distinct concepts to test against each other so we’ll be able to understand—from a high level—which works and which don’t work as well.

Days 5-15 (depending on complexity of the creative)

Then, we’ll get into production. We’ve got a Rolodex of photographers, videographers, and designers to quickly and efficiently produce great creative.

We’ll produce 1-2 different pieces of creative underneath each of the three distinct concepts (for a total of 3-6 pieces of creative) every 6 weeks until we hone in on winners and double down there.

Days 30-60

Finally, and most importantly, we’ll put that creative through the wringer by conducting a full creative analysis that measures its effectiveness using two major data points:

  • CPC (is it grabby/compelling enough to get a quick click?)
  • CPL (is the ad-to-site experience seamless enough that the creative helps smooth their path towards conversion?)

From there, we’ll emerge with insights about what’s performing, what’s not, and a game plan for a fresh round of production (the timing on this cycle is totally dependent on ad spend and audience size).

Ready to Get Started?

Whether you’re ready to break out and start testing what kind of creative drives the best results for your growth or you need to enlist the help of a team that can take that burden off your hands, we’d love to hear about it!

Why (and How) We Spend $35,000 on Website CRO Each Year

 

We spend $35,000 a year on our website. That’s more than every other marketing tactic combined. 

For a big company that might not sound like much but for Tuff it’s a big deal. 

And as the owner of a growth marketing agency, it’s a tough call to make. Especially when I could reinvest that back into my team and the people responsible for our growth. Or use it to supercharge our reporting. Or build out a new service. 

So, with full intentionality, website conversion rate optimization (CRO) is something we prioritize because it’s the one tactic that has consistently grown our business. 

Disclaimer: we’re by no means claiming that we have the best or most highest-performing website on the block (or even that our process is perfect). But what we are saying is that we dedicate significant time and resources to continually improving our site because it works. Applying this process to incremental site improvements has shown us real, measurable results. And we hope this process can help you do the same!

How We’ve Grown Tuff (and our clients) By Focusing on Website CRO

When it comes to growth marketing, there are two types of tactics we’re focused on: acquisition (getting the right traffic) and conversion (getting that traffic to do something). 

Acquisition channels help you get traffic, which is great. Then what? 

Increasing traffic—especially when that traffic is composed of relevant audiences—is a huge part of your early growth goals and the strategies you put in place to achieve them. Once you’ve figured out the traffic equation, half the battle is over. But that does mean half the battle remains, and that comes down to conversion rate optimization, or CRO.

So when it comes to CRO, we focus in on two main things: 

  • Our website (currently at a 1.09% CVR) 
  • Our sales process 

More to the point:

  • Once someone gets to our website, what happens next?
  • How do you get site visitors to do something?

And also:

  • How do we do our best to answer prospects’ questions in the sales process?
  • How can we give them all the information they need to make an informed decision?

Our 5-Step Website CRO Process

While our website CRO process is now a well-oiled machine, it took us a few years of in-the-weeds hard work to hone and refine it. And, while it still requires a concerted effort to make notable impacts on our CRO month after month, it’s so incredibly important. 

Even if your website is significantly different from ours, or you exist in a totally different industry, this battle-tested process can help anyone improve their site whether you’ve got $35k a year to spend or not. 

  1. Figure out the most important metrics.
  2. Identify areas to optimize.
    • Revisit your competitors and value props 
    • Use conversations with your audience to get better 
    • Study Google Analytics – common paths and top pages 
  3. Make a list of monthly priorities. 
  4. Execute 
  5. Measure, rinse & repeat.

But before we dive deeper, a quick note about our approach. 

With website CRO, there are essentially two approaches to take: 

  1. Make bold changes that will drive more profit and you get fast, measurable results.
  2. Make small, continuous tweaks each month to keep your site strong and lead to incremental increases in conversions over time. 

Both have merit, but the second one is the one we at Tuff are passionate about. Small, ongoing adjustments, implemented fast, give you better CRO results. It’s the one we’re going to focus on for this post. 

Let’s dive in! 

1. Figure out the most important metrics

Before you start outlining updates for your website, make sure you’ve set clear goals you’d like to achieve – even if you don’t have much data to base them on.

For Tuff, we focus on the below metrics and study them monthly: 

  • Conversion rate (CVR): this can exist at numerous stages of the customer journey, but in this instance we’re talking traffic to conversion. Examples include: traffic to purchase (eComm), traffic to sign up (B2B, tech, SaaS), traffic to install (mobile app), etc.
  • Time on site: duration of site visits.
  • Bounce rate: how fast site visitors leave.
  • Entrance page/user journey: which pages get the most entrances? This helps you understand which pages are providing traffic (service pages, blog posts, etc.). You can find common paths and determine which pages to improve as a “first impression.”

CVR is such a key metric because it allows you to reduce costs by getting more out of the traffic that’s already coming to your website. By improving your conversion rate you can increase revenue per visitor and lower your overall customer acquisition costs. Ultimately, there’s a CVR threshold you’ve got to get to in order to be profitable. Part of the challenge is honing in on what exactly that is. 

website conversion rate from google analytics

But let’s start with the basics. Here’s how to measure the impact of increasing your CVR:

  • If a website has a conversion rate of 5% and receives 5000 visitors a month, then the website will generate 250 conversions per month. 
  • If you can improve the conversion rate to 7% by making regular improvements, you jump up to 350 conversions from the exact same amount of traffic. 

It can be hard to know what a “good” conversion rate is and honestly it depends on your stage, service, and revenue but to help, we put together a spreadsheet with the conversion rate for some of the businesses we work with to give you a starting point. 

Once you get familiar with this kind of data, it will help you interpret your own.

2. Identify areas to optimize

The next step is to get your team together and build your user acquisition channels list – write it down, type it out, drop it into Google Sheets, whatever you want to do. Don’t worry if it’s unorganized or sporadic, you can swing back in and restructure it later.

We generate ideas by going to a handful of different places for inspiration: 

  1. Revisit our competitors and value props 
  2. Use conversations with our audience to get better 
  3. Study Google Analytics — common paths and top pages 
    • Entrances!  

Revisit our competitors and value props

We start by pulling up our competitor websites and studying how they articulate their services with copy and design. These findings help us inform/bring detail to:

  • How we position our offering (copy) 
  • How we weave in our value props visually (design) 

Then, we revisit our value props (here’s our value proposition spreadsheet if you want to use it as an example). While our value props don’t change on a monthly basis (we update yearly), we do this because it reminds us of the unique ways we solve a partner’s “problem” and how to stay true to that. 

Use conversations with our audience to get better

This comes pretty easy to us because I manage our website and run our sales team. We get between 50-60 leads per month and have conversations with anywhere from 8-10 of those leads. During these calls, we ask a ton of questions and get asked a ton of questions. 

After each sales call, I write down the major questions and look for patterns. If the same group of questions continues to surface, we start to think about why and then look for ways to incorporate those learnings into the site so that our language reflects what our target audience is actually saying (vs what we think they are saying). 

If the team or person managing your website isn’t close to your sales team or in a position to talk regularly to your target audience, change that! 

Study Google Analytics — common paths and top pages

As a growth marketer, I’m in Google Analytics at least 10 times a day. Every time we get a notification that someone has submitted a form on our website, I jump into GA and take a look at two things: 

  • Where they came from (source) 
  • What they did

This helps me understand how traffic from different sources behaves as well as the most common paths to conversion. We have over 300 pages on our website and we can’t afford to optimize all of them so I use this information to decide what the priority pages should be. 

website entrances from google analytics

We also always look at the entrances (vs pages with the most sessions). This is really important for us because it helps us understand what pages people see for the first time. Is it a blog post? Is it a landing page? Is it our homepage? Again, with this information we can prioritize what people see first and how to guide them through different funnels and paths on the website.  

Using the above information—competitor research, value props, conversations with prospects and existing clients, and Google Analytics—we build a big list of optimization ideas and put those down on paper each month.  

3. Make a list of monthly priorities

So you have a big list, now what?

Even lean testing means an entirely new suite of copy, design, dev resources, and outputs, so it’s important to be intentional about how you and your team spend your time on your website.  

One way to manage your monthly optimization tests and increase the chances of success is to spend time upfront evaluating each proposed update—the idea is to test and get early access to good opportunities, but you can’t do everything.

So we take our list of ideas and ask: 

  • How likely is it to increase our conversion rate?
  • How easy is it to implement the test?
  • Will it have an impact on our site traffic? 

Once we’ve prioritized the 6-7 tasks (one big one and a handful of smaller optimizations) for the month, we add the tasks to our Website Trello Board. 

website optimization trello board

Then, we divide and conquer the work. Right now, we have someone responsible for each of the below roles: 

  • Strategy & Project Management: Responsible for identifying the areas to optimize, prioritizing to-dos, and keeping us on schedule 
  • Copy: Responsible for helping us write copy for the site that captures our value props and tone 
  • Design: Responsible for taking the copy and visualizing it (we use InVision to build wireframes and mocks) 
  • Development: Responsible for building out the mocks in staging and then pushing live

4. Execute

When it comes to website CRO, or any growth marketing tactic for that matter, even the best strategies can fall flat if you don’t see it through with solid execution. We take a very disciplined approach to website CRO and keep our entire team accountable to a schedule that helps us produce higher quality optimizations on a monthly basis. 

Here’s an example of a typical timeline looked like for last month’s website optimization: 

  • Identified June priorities by May 21 
  • Met with web team to review on May 24
  • Finalized copy by June 1 and added to Trello
  • Built wireframes for each optimization 
  • Held first staging period from June 7 – 11 
  • Mid-month check in
  • Held second staging period from June 21 – 25 
  • Identified July priorities by June 22 
  • Final review of June edits 

5. Rinse and repeat

We follow this process every month because we believe action produces momentum and you can speed things up by actively making updates (small and large) each month. It’s a lot of work (it’s more of a time commitment than a financial one) but right now, for us, it’s worth it. 

website wireframes

I also feel like we’re only really scratching the surface and as we grow we will look to iterate and expand on our website CRO process. Here are some of the new things I’m excited about implementing this year that we aren’t currently doing: 

  • Talking to people who came to the site but didn’t fill out a form 
  • Asking people (not people that work at Tuff) to review our competitor sites and give us feedback 
  • Building out wireframes and getting feedback from existing clients before pushing live 

I’d also love to hear what website CRO process your team has been using. What has worked well for you? 

Thanks for reading! I hope you picked up one or two new tips and tricks for your website CRO process. If you want to bounce some ideas or learn more about the process outlined above, let’s talk. 

person at laptop

7 Well-Designed Landing Page Examples

person at laptop

Well designed landing pages are no easy feat, but much easier to make happen and do well than 10-years ago. With a whole host of tools and content for landing pages at your disposal, developing one for your business has never been easier. 

Before you dive into your first landing page, we recommend doing your research and learning the process of how to write, build, and test landing pages.  Despite the easy accessibility to tools for building landing pages, it is still possible to build a bad landing page. 

In light of this, here are 7 of the best-designed landing page examples for you to hone your skills on. 

1. HelloFresh 

hello fresh

Ever had a HelloFresh box show up out of the blue with really no recollection of how it could possibly have your name on it or be at your front door? 

That’s because their landing pages are so dang cute from a design perspective and genius from a landing page strategy, that you barely realized you had signed up for more than one delivery. 

We’re not saying that HelloFresh tricks people or anything – we’re all aware of what we’ve done, but the landing page process can be so seamless and the offer can be so good that it’s hard to realize what you’ve done. 

That is until you’re standing there with a sack full of new groceries on a Monday staring dumbfounded at the HelloFresh box at your doorstep because you totally forgot it was HelloFresh week and you actually didn’t need to buy groceries. 

That’s the power of a well-designed landing page. 

2. Winc Wine Club

Winc Wine Club

 

Similar to HelloFresh, ever had a box of wine show up at your house that you totally forgot about because again, signing up was so easy that you barely realized what you were doing until you did it, then forgot about it, then found it delivered at your house? 

That’s the power of a well-designed landing page – all the elements come together that it doesn’t even feel like shopping anymore – it feels like… well magic! 

3. Yeti Coolers

Yeti Coolers

Then there are landing pages that are just seriously thought-through, beautifully crafted eCommerce collection pages in disguise. 

Take this Yeti Collection page for their Tundra Yeti Coolers for example. The difference between this one and every single other product collection page you’ve ever seen is that lifestyle image right smack in the middle of the page. 

Set there on the page like that to give you some perspective on what one of Yeti’s coolers looks like out in the wild. As you can see, it looks pretty god damn tough – like their messaging points out. 

And right there on that page, you get why there’s thousands of reviews for what you might have thought was an overpriced insulated box. 

That’s the power of a well-designed landing page. 

4. Monday.com

Monday

Great copy, perfectly styled creative, and well placed CTA can go a long way! 

But not as far as it can go when it’s positioned perfectly between a conversion and an aligning search ad. I triggered this landing page off of searching for “Scrum Board Software.” 

Knowing that my intent was based on managing team tasks, Monday.com came to my rescue and made me feel like they had just the solution I needed for my search. 

That’s the power of a well-designed landing page. 

5. Zapier

Zapier

The reason all of these landing pages are so impressive is partly due to the fact that they are all built around search ads triggered by specific phrases. 

When done right, search advertising paired with a supporting landing page that is dialed to the query is the perfect example of an optimized customer journey.

What I love about this hero copy is that it provides the user with three CTAs:

  • The demo is a bit less aggressive than the trial
  • The trial still being front and center
  • And then that bold small offer looking for the 0.01% who are also looking for an offer to pull the trigger on. 

That’s the power of a well-designed landing page. 

6. Allbirds 

Allbirds

Other times, you end up somewhere you didn’t really intend to be. 

You were searching running shoes and thinking you would end up with some Adidas or Nike ads, instead you get an allbirds ad and think, “allbirds? Is making performance running shoes now? I should probably check this out – just for fun of course.” 

And you get there and it’s as if allbirds is saying, “Hell yeah we’re making running shoes, come check them out, you won’t be disappointed!” 

And you’re so drawn in by the hero video of people running on the beach in what you guess are allbirds, that you have to keep scrolling, and then all of the sudden… you have allbirds on the way to your apartment. 

That’s the power of well-designed landing pages. 

7. Shopify

Shopify

And then there are those familiar ones – the ones you use every day, the Shopifys of the world. 

You run a search just to see if there’s anything else out there. 

A dumb search like, “Sell goods.” You think,  maybe… something… anything else has come up that might dwarf Shopify in comparison. 

First, search result, it’s Shopify. Well of course it’s shopify, you think. You click it – what the hell? 

You don’t need to be sold on Shopify, but you see the landing page and know you’re still in good hands. 

That’s the power of a well-designed landing page. 

Planning a website update on a white board.

Increase Your eCommerce Conversion Rate with 72-Hour CRO Sprints

Planning a website update on a white board.

Editor’s Note: This post has been updated with new links and examples for you to use! 

When you sell services, products, or platforms online one of the most important metrics is your website conversion rate. It tells you what percentage of your site visitors are converting to customers. 

Despite the importance of a website conversion rate, in our experience, the metric can get overlooked.

 

For Tuff, website conversion rate is one of the first places we turn – whether you’re a subscription-based business converting Free Trial Users to Paid Subscribers, a brand selling your product online, or a SaaS platform looking to grow – we undoubtedly will look at the percentage of customers converting. 

The reason: you don’t need to increase your ad spend to convert more. You just simply need to know how to optimize your conversion rate. At Tuff, a tactic called Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is at the heart of everything we do. From constantly testing paid ad campaigns across the internet to figuring out why more leads aren’t turning into customers, CRO is at the forefront of our learning and results.

eCommerce Conversion Rate Optimization

For eCommerce businesses we typically look at the eCommerce Conversion Rate to tell us how traffic is interacting and converting through the eCommerce sales funnel.  

When our eCommerce clients at Tuff ask us how they can grow their online business without increasing their budget, we usually take a deep dive into what’s driving their eCommerce conversion rate

For starters, take a look at the table below showing how much you can increase revenue when the only metric that is increased is eCommerce Conversion Rate.

Full MonthTarget
Visitors36,68136,681
eCommerce CVR
0.19%
0.5%
Transactions95200
Average Order Value$1,143.96$1,143.96
Revenue$108,676.05$228,792

In the above example, our client can increase revenue by 110% by simply optimizing their conversion rate from 0.19% to 0.5% (a 163% increase). 

That’s a $120,115.95 revenue increase from pure optimization – no additional resources or ad spend needed!

Website CRO Test Sprints 

A computer measuring ecommerce conversion rate.

To increase your conversion rate you will need to learn what factors contribute to your existing CVR.  

At Tuff, an analysis we might use to learn more about your current CVR is to find out what percentage of your website visitors are getting to your checkout conversion funnel, which traditionally has three stages:

  1. Added to Cart
  2. Initiated Checkout 
  3. Purchased

By analyzing your checkout funnel, we can use our analysis to make a series of hypotheses about what is preventing a higher conversion rate – we then use those hypotheses as frameworks for our tests. Maybe there are frictions in your checkout process that stops visitors from purchasing or maybe it can be increased with a different type of product or service page or completely different user journey. 

Let’s pretend this is your checkout funnel for a month’s worth of visitors.

Visitors% of Total Visitors
Added To Cart5442.25%
Initiated Checkout4922.03%
Purchased4091.69%

Based on this data, we know that a low percentage of total website traffic ends up adding a product to their cart, which will effectively produce a low number of conversions. 

In addition, the amount of visitors decreases by 10% between Added To Cart and Initiated Checkout stages in the funnel. Between Initiated Checkout and Purchase, the decrease is 20%. 

Therefore, hypothetically a solution for us to increase the conversion rate with the above metrics is to increase the initiated checkout percentage.  

Now that we have our hypothesis, we must find a way to test it. 

Developing a Test 

 

Our hypothesis is – if we increase the number of visitors adding to cart then we will increase the conversion rate. 

A simple way to find out if this is true is to run a test that gets more people adding to cart by providing users with a discount code in exchange for information that is valuable to you. 

For many eCommerce websites, a piece of information that is extremely valuable is an email address. 

To find out if our hypothesis is correct, a lean and easy to implement 72 hour CRO Sprint test would be to ask for an email address (or other desired action) in exchange for an offer code. 

This type of test’s results are easy to track because you can see how often the promo code is used through your eCommerce platform. Removing this test is also easy should you find that it’s not working or is causing more problems than it’s solving in your customer checkout funnel.

Implement The Test

A team of marketers sitting at a table with computers.

To implement, the test needs to contain a time-sensitive offer, which will increase the likelihood that the offer is used at a faster pace than one that is not time-sensitive. 

Here are two examples of time-sensitive offers:

  • 15% off your purchase when you order in the next 10 minutes. 
  • Limited Time Offer: Free 2 Day Shipping Today

Create the pop-up through your email service provider (ESP) so that it is triggered when a visitor has been on a specific product page for more than 50% of the average page session duration.

If your average product page session duration is 30 seconds then the offer should open at 15 seconds. 

Do not set it to trigger when someone lands on the homepage. You want the visitor to be more qualified than a unique visitor. 

The offer should contain an email signup field and clear copy that compels the potential customer to use the offer within a specific amount of time. 

Best Practices

Be advised that a best practice for this is to provide the promo code to the customer on the form after they provide their email address and click submit. You can provide it in a separate email as well, but you want to make it as easy as possible for the customer to get the code and continue on their customer journey. 

Once you have the test launched, then set it to run live for 72 hours, but don’t just forget about it. 

Monitoring

Data to measure your ecommerce conversion rate.

You’ll need to closely monitor it. You must make sure that the test is either perpetuating your average conversion rate or increasing it. If it decreases your conversion rate then you will want to abandon the test and return the variables back to their original flow. 

Once your split test is complete then you can take your learnings and create a new test to run. Remember, you only want to run one test at a time or else you risk changing too many variables at a time and not being able to point to what works. Realistically, you don’t want to run more than 2 tests per week. 

Website CRO Test Templates

Here are a list of 7 more website CRO tests you can do to increase the percentage of visitors converting to customers:

  1. Landing Page Offer
  2. Navigation Header Menu Organization 
  3. Homepage copy change
  4. Homepage creative change 
  5. Increase Site Speed 
  6. Exit Intent Offer Popup 
  7. Referral Widget  

If you’re curious to learn more about our process, or want to chat about your CRO potential, schedule a free strategy session with our team. Our team will analyze your marketing, website, and business and present your top CRO opportunities in a PDF.

Sketching website landing pages.

How To Write, Build, and Test Landing Pages

Sketching website landing pages.

Like a strategic blog post series or email marketing drip campaign, landing pages should be a part of any startup, eCommerce, or enterprise business’ online marketing toolkit.

From creation to testing, tweaking, and more testing, this conversion rate optimization process can help to increase conversion rates when done correctly.

Too many founders and marketers create landing web pages and forget about them. Even more frequently, marketers do one or two tests only to move onto another marketing initiative because they feel that they’ve learned all they can from their website visitors.

Think of your landing pages as a dynamic process. You should be able to learn from them on a recurring basis and leverage your winning results. Even after you’ve found scalable results, the landing page process will allow you to test those positive results and optimize further.

You can use your landing pages to qualify leads, test lead generation concepts with potential customers, and, of course, increase conversions. To do all of this and more, you’ll need a process.

Here’s the complete Tuff guide to help you write, build, and test landing pages.

Step 1: Landing Page Design Structure  

Landing page strategy sketch.

Before you start writing copy or considering your image assets, it’s incredibly important that you design a landing page structure that is the right fit for your industry and audience.

Depending on if you sell a product or a service, your landing page structure will be different. For eCommerce product companies your landing page might feature an offer discount for your product and for startup tech or Enterprise SaaS your landing page might be collecting email addresses through an email signup form field.

Figuring out the basic building blocks of your landing page is the first part in landing page design. When you have that plan, then you are ready to begin your design layout.

A great way to layout your design is through a process known as wireframing.

Wireframes are a blueprint to define the information architecture and layout of your landing page.

For each landing page, you create, you should have multiple versions, but you’ll want the structure of the landing page to be the same across all the landing page versions. Being disciplined with this part of the process will allow you to learn faster during the test phase.

Step 2: Write The Landing Page Copy

Writing copy for a landing page.

Now that you have the structure of your landing page design you can begin the process of writing your landing page copy. For each section of your wireframe, you will want to create a landing page with 5 different versions of the copy for you to use during the revision and testing stages.

For example, all landing pages have a headline, description, and call to action. For each copy component of the landing page, you will want to write 5 different versions – 5x headlines, 5x descriptions, and 5 calls to action.

Remember that your copy should be human, original, and succinct.

With a landing page, you’re focusing your user’s attention down to one goal – to take the call to action (email signup, demo booking, purchase with an offer).

The call to action should be clear and concise, the user should have no problem understanding what you want them to do and what they get in return using the copy you have provided.

Step 3: Build 5 Landing Pages and Add Images

By step 3, you should have your landing page section structured with 5 sets of copy assigned to each section. The next step is to build 5 landing pages with the sets of the copy.

We recommend using a tool to help facilitate your build. This process should be pretty straightforward since you have already done the planning.

If you have a habit of making changes in the middle of a process, don’t. If you can’t help yourself, then have someone else on your team put the landing pages together using the building blocks you already designed and defined.

Now is not the time for you to try to guess what will resonate with your audience – we’ll get to that in the next step.

Once you have your five versions of your landing pages built, then you’re going to pick two of them to use in your first round of tests. We recommend getting feedback from your internal team on what they think will be the most effective two versions to test against each other.

Remember the structure and goals of the two landing pages should be the same, the only variables that should be different are the copy and creative.

Step 4: Landing Page Testing

Woman biting pencil.

To effectively drive traffic quickly and learn efficiently which landing page converts best, you will create a test campaign with two ad sets that contain the same budget.

Each of the ad sets will contain identical ads to the other ad set, the only difference will be the destination that you send the audience to in each ad.

For example ad A will direct to landing page v.1 and ad B will go to landing page v.2.

Run each ad for the same duration.

After the ads have completed their tests, then measure which one is the winner. You can do this by measuring your lead generation results or overall conversions.

You now have a baseline to build new tests off of to optimize your landing page, but you’re far from done. The only real result that you have is that you know that the winning landing page performs better than the loser.

Next, you will need to put your land page winner up against an even better competitor to learn and optimize.

Step 5: Optimizing Landing Pages 

You will need to set up a new test where all the variables are the same except for one. Maybe you’ll choose to test a new headline or call to action in your second test.

To do a new headline, you would take your winning landing page and duplicate it, then change the headline to the new copy. You would then test the winning landing page from your first test against the new iteration.

For each new variable you test, you’ll need to do a new test. Once you have tested all the variables from your baseline winner then you should test against a new structure.

Finding a new structure will require you to repeat steps 1 – 4 to create a new landing page with a new structure and test it against your winning landing page from round 1.

To be successful at the landing page process you need to be disciplined at following the steps. Skipping them or combining too many tests at once within the process will result in a lack of understanding of what is driving positive results.

Tuff ecommerce case study.

How We Boosted Koala’s eCommerce Conversion Rate by 153%

Tuff case study image.

New Mexico based Hangtime Gear is an early stage startup designing innovative mobile accessories. 

Their core product is the KOALA Super Grip Phone Harness – a smartphone holder with a leash and clasp that secures to any fabric keeping your phone safe from drops, damage, and loss. 

The KOALA was originally a 2019 IndieGoGo Campaign that raised over $500K. It has been featured in Outside Magazine, The New York Times, Gear Patrol, The Boston Globe, and on CBS’ Innovation Nation with Mo Rocca. 

From crowdfunded campaign to eCommerce Growth Strategy

Hangtime Gear reached out to our team in March 2020 to help them build and execute an eCommerce growth strategy. After doing foundational research and reviewing the full user journey, we immediately got started on getting quality traffic to the site. This included: 

  • Google Ads
  • Google Shopping
  • Facebook and Instagram Ads
  • YouTube

As traffic increased, we turned our focus to conversion rate optimization. When it comes to increasing revenue, we knew it would take more than clicks. 

In this post, we’re going to break down how our website optimizations increased the eCommerce conversion rate by 153% by:

  1. Differentiating between a crowdfund backer vs eCommerce customer.
  2. Rewriting, redesigning, and rebuilding key sections of the site. 

Crowdfunding Campaign Design eCommerce Website Design 

A great crowdfunding campaign can pave the way for your eCommerce business by giving you access to the capital you need, market validation, PR, and product reviews. 

What it can’t do is provide a verbatim model of how to advertise to your customers and optimize your eCommerce website. 

Hangtime Gear’s existing website featured design elements that were pulled from their crowdfunding page, which didn’t translate into a high enough conversion rate for our paid advertising strategy to produce a high ROAS. 

This is a common situation for founders that launch with crowdfunded campaigns – what works for a backer audience doesn’t always translate.

A crowdfunding backer is supporting an idea – more times than not this idea isn’t fully realized or completed – which is okay. The point of the crowdfunding campaign is to give you a platform to test your assumptions. 

On the contrary, an eCommerce customer is buying a fully functional product to use for a specific need. 

Due to this distinction, the two audiences require different customer journeys and user experiences, especially when it comes to a website. 

Here are the four main changes we implemented to increase Hangtime’s eCommerce conversion rate from 1.36%  to 3.46%. 

Data from Google Analytics showing an increase in conversion rate.

We started with the homepage.  

The first step in the redesign process was the homepage section. Originally, the site featured all product information on one page like you would do for a crowdfunding campaign page or for an Amazon listing. 

You could learn about the product, read customer reviews, look through top-tier publisher testimonials, and add the product to your cart, all from the homepage. 

The strategy behind this is smart – lots of the world’s leading platforms utilize it from Amazon to IndieGoGo and Kickstarter. This design centers on the assumption that the conversion rate will be higher if people have to navigate to fewer pages. 

For Amazon and crowdfunding platforms it works for two reasons: 

  1. High levels of trust with those platforms. 
  2. Those platforms have spent thousands of hours and millions upon millions of dollars optimizing their single page layouts to perform at the highest conversion rates the world has ever seen. 

However, for early-stage startup brands with very little recognition and no resources to properly optimize a single home page and product page website, getting the conversion rate results to scale can be incredibly tricky. 

To help clean up the user experience, we started by breaking out the home page from the product page and utilizing a product benefit banner structure on the homepage featuring different creatives with product specific copy and different CTAs (Calls To Action) on each banner. 

We introduced a separate product page.

For the product page, we utilized the product page section from the original website but broke it out onto its own page for the above-the-fold content. Here’s what this looks like: 

Shopify website product page design.

Below the fold of the product page, we added a customer product review section using Stamped.io’s widget that highlights top reviews with user-generated content and chronologically ordered reviews. With Stamped.io, users can filter through the reviews using a query function as well as preset tags to see all reviews featuring a term like “iPhone.” 

After the review section, we added an additional product information section that dives deep into exactly how the product is used, how it was made, and why you should use it. We used an app designed for Shopify websites called PageFly Page Builder to build this custom section. The app also allowed us to utilize a feature called lazy loading which made the product page’s loading speed faster.

We built a dedicated review page. 

One of the great things about Hangtime Gear’s KOALA product, especially for an early-stage brand, is that it has over 400 reviews.  Given that they’ve only been around for a few months – this is amazing and speaks to their customer satisfaction. 

However with 400 reviews, we didn’t want to crowd the home page or product page showcasing all of the user-generated content. We decided to break out the reviews onto their own page using generated code that we injected into the Shopify page using Stamped.io.

Example of ecommerce reviews page using the stamped.io plugin for shopify.

The start of this page features a YouTube Video testimonial of the KOALA in action and is preceded by a scrolling page of the reviews. 

We restructured the header navigation to provide easy pathways to find the product, product proof, or helpful answers about the product.

The final change that we made to the KOALA Website was to reformat the header and footer navigation menus. We wanted to control the UX journey flow, so we took out specific menu items to push non-purchasers to either learn more about the product, read user reviews, or learn about the product on the FAQ page.

We removed: 

  • About 
  • Blog 


We kept: 

  • Shop
  • Reviews
  • FAQs

Website Optimization Results 

We launched the new version of Hangtime’s website on April 23 and instantly saw an increase in conversion rate that leveled out over the next 12 days.  

In addition to bumping up conversion rate, we saw added benefits: 

  • The average session duration increased by 299% 
  • Revenue increased by 36% 
  • Bounce rate decreased by 28% 
  • Page speed increased by 29% 

Not a one and done solution. 

At Tuff, ongoing optimization is part of our conversion rate optimization website design process. It can also be used for our clients who already have high conversion rates and would like us to test new variables in a safe testing environment. 

We typically implement 2x tests per week to optimize the conversion rate. We do either a copy or creative test followed by an offer based test. The process uses 72-hour testing increments to let us measure the success rate of the test. 

If the first test increases or perpetuates the baseline conversion rate, then we leave it and add a second variable into the mix. If the test decreases the conversion rate, then we pull the test variable and move the original variable back into place. Then we move onto the second test of the week. 

This testing process allows us to test new variables regularly without adding too many variables at once which makes it difficult for us to measure what contributed to an increase or decrease in conversion rate.

If you want to explore more about how to increase your eCommerce conversion rate with Tuff or want a first-hand look at the data showcased above, touch base to set up a free, 30-minute growth strategy session with our team. We’d love to learn more about who you are and what you do so that we can help you find your way to the next level.

 

tuff-landing-page-or-homepage

Home Page or Landing Page? Where To Send Your Paid Traffic

Think your homepage is good enough to send paid traffic to? Think again.

First of all, what is the difference between a homepage and a landing page?

A homepage is the central focus of your website

It’s used as the front-facing asset for the various forms of traffic coming to your business.  

A homepage is meant to:

  • Clearly align with your audience and their needs
  • Be easy to navigate to other areas of your site
  • Make it obvious how to convert into a lead or take next steps to engage further with your company
  • Be clear and comprehensive about what you do
  • Leave a good impression about your brand and what it stands for

A homepage is important because a lot of the disparate traffic across the web will somehow be pointed to your homepage, including SEO backlinks which are generally pointed towards homepages.

If you’re doing a lot of networking or emailing you could also see a lot of direct traffic typing in your name and going straight to your homepage. In general, more than 50% of your website traffic will go to your homepage.

A lot of companies take great pains to make sure their homepage is optimized to convert. This amount of effort on the homepage can sometimes lead a marketing manager or decision maker to favor the homepage for paid traffic rather than a landing page. The thinking is usually that if you’ve put in the effort to raise conversion rates on the homepage, it should be a strong enough to capture paid traffic as well.

So, in comparison, what is a landing page?  

A landing page is a narrow-focused page. It’s designed to align even more closely with a specific need your audience has. According to Neil Patel, a landing page is developed with One reader in mind, for One big idea.  

A landing page is meant to:

  • Have 100% Ad -> Page consistency with messaging (i.e. your paid ad is about an upcoming webinar and your landing page is all about that specific webinar topic with a form to fill out to save your seat)
  • Leave the audience with one option of what to do next, usually in line with their specific pain point (i.e. you send paid traffic looking for the Keyword ‘Promo Product Samples’ to a page where they can get samples of your Product, not the homepage where they can get samples, mock ups, catalogs, and join the mailing list)
  • Be the solution they’re looking for (i.e. someone is looking for Apple Macbook Pro and you send them to a page all about the Macbook Pro, rather than sending them to a page with various apple products to choose from)
  • Follow the best practices for a homepage like leaving a good brand impression and being easy to convert

A landing page by its customizable nature is a better choice for (increasingly expensive) paid traffic because it aligns more closely with the customer journey. In fact, companies that test their homepage versus landing pages have seen big increases in conversions, up to a 55% lift

The reason is that a landing page speaks directly to a user’s need, which you should have already hyper-focused using your ad targeting and ad copy. By the time the customer gets to your page they should be relieved to have found exactly what they’re looking for.

Homepage vs. landing page

When deciding on sending paid traffic to a homepage versus a landing page, think of the customer and where they’re at in their journey. 

If they are showing any kind of buying intent or product/service specificity within their paid search, think about catering to that with a landing page. Another case for a landing page would be remarketing specific products (Macbook Pro) to specific segments of audience (cart abandoners) that showed interest in that product.  

But my homepage is still good enough, it converts well!

If your traffic is very top of funnel and searching for more vague terms, or if the searcher is simply searching for brand terms, you could get away with a great homepage. Another case for the homepage is remarketing to that top of funnel traffic, the people that aren’t as familiar with your brand.

As always with marketing, think of the customer first and where they are in their journey. Then, test using a landing page versus a homepage, catering your funnel to the user’s needs, and watch your conversions skyrocket.

 

We’d love to work with you.

Schedule a call with our team and we’ll analyze your marketing, product, metrics, and business. Then, present a Growth Plan with actionable strategies to find and keep more engaged customers.

tuff-increase-landing-page-conversion-rate

How Wireframing Will Improve Your Landing Page Conversion Rate

We sometimes get questions about how other clients work with Tuff to reach their growth goals — so we’re sharing some stories to help bring our services to life. Meet Xendoo.

Xendoo is an online accounting and bookkeeping service partnering with small business owners to take on their business financials and accounting with a dedicated team of CPAs. They give small business owners time back to focus on their business and give them peace of mind by knowing their books are being done correctly. Founded in 2016, Xendoo received an initial round of funding in 2017. We were lucky to start working with them later that year.

“Not only are they a true pleasure to work with, they achieve phenomenal results. Highly recommend the team to people that are committed to growing their business. When you hire TUFF, prepare to hang on for a great ride.” – Lil Robets, CEO, Xendoo (View our reviews on Google & Facebook)

We partnered with Xendoo to improve their landing page conversion rate and as a result, they had their highest client acquisition month ever with:

  • 35% increase in conversions MoM
  • 82% Increase in new clients MoM

Why Xendoo Focused On User Experience

A website is one of the most powerful user acquisition channels for businesses today, and for good reason. If you build it right, your website can be the best and most cost-effective marketing tool you have. Especially when you’ve done the research to know which complimentary user acquisition channels are going to drive the most growth for your audience.

For a fast-growing startup, it’s common to outgrow the early versions of your site. As you scale, your positioning will evolve, your brand identity will become more established, and you’ll hone in on your ideal users.

As this happens, it’s critical that your site also evolves. If you put consistent effort into improving the user experience of your website and everything that goes with it, you can consistently improve your conversion rate and scale your user acquisition.

Xendoo launched their site in late 2017 with two core goals in mind: client acquisition and fundraising. The site needed to serve and secure new clients, but it also needed to attract investors. We launched our paid client acquisition efforts in January of 2018 and immediately started growing a slow, but steady, client base. As Xendoo gained more traction throughout the year, the site data started pouring in and areas of improvement were easily identified.

So, how did we double their conversions (yes, that turned into almost twice as many clients per month!)?

Let’s dive in and take a look.

Xendoo’s Playbook

Customer Research

Designing a great user experience requires understanding the problems different visitors have and then working to solve those problems. Before we worked on the structure of the website, we leveraged Google Analytics, LiveHelpNow (live chat), and CallRail (phone calls) to identify hurdles that stopped people from moving through the conversion funnel.

Three distinct themes surfaced:

What services does Xendoo offer exactly?
Ideal: When someone lands on this page, they should immediately know how it’s going to help them.

What services do you integrate with?
Ideal: This should be quick and easy to understand.

How do I start a free trial?
Ideal: Consistent language and visuals around one primary CTA.

Clear CTA

Leaning on the data we turned our focus to the site structure, designing the primary CTA first. Making the CTA the first element you include in your skeleton layout will ensure that the rest of the website supports the CTA and isn’t buried on the page. When working on user flow, you need to ask yourself “What is the number one thing we want users to do?” and “What value does our service or product fulfill for the user?” The intersection of these answers is your primary call-to-action. For Xendoo, this CTA was a month of bookkeeping for free.

Wireframes

Once we had the CTA’s identified, we built the site wireframes. Wireframes are a blueprint to define the information architecture and layout of your website or product. They allow you to take a step back from the design and develop a clear understanding of all user paths throughout a site. This is one of the most essential, yet overlooked, steps in creating a high-converting website.

Mock Up

The final step in the wireframe process was to develop a sample mock. It’s a common practice for designers to use “Lorem Ipsum” while wireframing and designing mockups. But, when it comes to increasing your conversions your content is equally, if not more important, as your layout and design. Once we had the copy down, we were able to work it into an illustrative mock that set the tone for the entirety of the site design.

Results:

  • Best client acquisition month ever!
  • 35% increase in conversions MoM
  • 82% Increase in new clients MoM

We’d love to work with you.

Schedule a call with our team and we’ll analyze your marketing, product, metrics, and business. Then, present a Growth Plan with actionable strategies to find and keep more engaged customers.