Looking back at your childhood, do you have any memories of sitting in the car riding along the highway, doing nothing but checking out the billboards along the way to your destination?

Me too.

And I’m guessing, you can still remember a few memorable ones. Am I right? The good ones made you beg your folks to stop – hoping that they’d buy you something. And when you saw the bad ones – well, you simply moved on without another thought.

Today, the same thing happens online.

As we surf the information superhighway, website homepages have become the billboards of today. And just like back in the day, you often have less than 10 seconds to capture your audience’s attention, articulate your message, and try to pique their interest.

Many organizations struggle to create a homepage that leaves a lasting impression, while clearly communicating the primary message and value proposition of their business.

At CROmetrics, our work of partnering with clients to lead growth programs and website experimentation teams has shown that even the smallest changes to headlines in key places of a site can have a meaningful impact for driving growth in revenue. Yet, we’re also amazed that not everyone is constantly testing their primary messaging; especially on the homepage.

Think about it. If you could brainstorm for 60 minutes to create a hypothesis around a targeted change to your homepage headline that could positively impact your KPIs by 5, 10 or even 20 percent, wouldn’t you do that?

You’d be surprised how many times we’ve run experiments on targeting headline changes that have driven meaningful lifts in our clients KPIs. And we want to see more organizations doing that.

Keep reading to see eight homepage headline A/B testing ideas we’d love to validate through testing.

Believe It or Not: Headline A/B Testing Can Drive Solid Lifts to Your KPIs

Remember the saying, “you only get one chance to make a first impression?” Well, it’s true for both face-to-face and digital interactions. That’s exactly why an organization needs to be A/B testing its primary messages being presented to homepage visitors.

And while different individuals with different experiences and viewpoints may interpret an organization’s headline messaging differently it’s important to experiment and determine which message best resonates with your primary audience.

Once you figure that out, it’s time to start personalizing your message to more hyper-focused audiences; but we’ll save that discussion for another time.

One caveat: I cannot and will not guarantee that all of the ideas I’ve included below will drive lifts in key metrics right out of the gate. My hypothesis is that these changes will result in positive change, but it’s important to remember that A/B testing is an iterative process. Since you have to start somewhere, let’s push forward.

1) Hover.com

Within a few short seconds, the primary message on a website homepage needs to tell its visitors what it has to offer. However, in a highly competitive space, such as purchasing domains, it’s also important to create a message that stands out. Here, my hypothesis is that the control experience for Hover is fairly forgettable given the competitive landscape of their business and we need to help it better resonate with Hover.com’s key audience.

Control: hover control

Let’s see what we can do to help Hover stand out a bit more with a homepage message that clearly communicates the value message, while also attempting to strike a chord with visitors.

Variation:

hover variation

Overall, any type of wordplay used within the primary message of the homepage is difficult to do well, but when it works, it’s a great way for a brand to be more memorable and stick in visitor’s minds in a competitive space. Here we’re utilizing a phrase “master of your own domain” in a way that typically isn’t associated with a website. But by doing so we’re able to present a message that we hope will better resonate with visitors.

Just be sure to connect with your internal creative resources early in the process to start brainstorming ideas for new headlines and ensuring you have been given the right approvals. This is especially if brand voice and tone is highly coveted at your organization. To help get them on your side, start by getting them excited about the idea of testing new headlines in order to mix the art of creative writing and the science behind running A/B tests.

2) Hotjar.com

Have you ever conducted a 5-second test? It’s amazing what you can learn about user’s perceptions in such a short amount of time. Often times homepage messages just assume that the user fully understands everything about the organization and its product offering. However, that’s not always the case, especially for new visitors. For Hotjar, my hypothesis is that as the amount of tools with the suite has grown, the current messaging is too vague and doesn’t provide enough clarity around their entire product offering.

Control:

hotjar a/b testing control

Perhaps with a headline that provides a bit more context for users, we can improve clarity to their product offering in order to better help users fully understand Hotjar’s value.

Variation:

hotjar a/b variation

Overall, the easiest way to determine if your messaging is clear is by assuming your audience knows nothing. Try a 5-second test or try taking your headline and writing it on a piece of paper. Then hand it to someone on your team or at home to view the homepage and then attempt to articulate the what the business does and its actual product/service offering.

If they struggle to articulate it back to you correctly, your headline isn’t clear enough. It’s important to keep your headline short and sweet, but not at the expense of clarity and context.

That’s why we’re highlighting the fact that Hotjar has a number of features within their toolset and the user’s benefit with this headline variation.

3) Rover.com

Did you ever work for a school newspaper or have an English teacher that sometimes harshly provided so-called, constructive criticism? Same here.

And by far the biggest takeaway for me was always the phrase, “don’t bury the lede.” Which is why for Rover, my hypothesis is that they may have buried the primary value proposition message below the primary headline.

Control:

rover a/b testing control

Let’s see what we can do to push the lead value proposition back into the forefront.

Variation:

rover a/b testing variation

In general, homepage messages often have headlines and subheads. However, we’ll often find that headlines can sometimes be a bit vague and organizations then use the subhead to provide the necessary context.

Which is why a simple test to run is swapping the subhead with the existing headline. This will bring your lead value proposition into the pole position to help you learn if using this as a primary message better resonates with users in order to drive action.

4) Docusign.com

Have you ever seen one of those romantic comedies where the man or woman uses a cheesy pick-up line in order to gain commitment for a date from the other person? Well, the same thing happens on website homepages.

Sometimes we can be so focused on getting our users to take action, that we forget we need to first articulate some type of value message before asking them to commit to taking an action. Leading purely with a call-to-action statement is often too aggressive and a bit of a turnoff. This is especially true since visitors may be coming to the homepage at multiple stages of the sales funnel. Someone in the awareness phase wouldn’t be ready for this headline as they often first need to research the product a bit more before being ready to make a purchase decision. Which is why for DocuSign, my hypothesis is that their headline is not aligning with their users’ expectations by asking for the visitor to take action before they are ready.

Control:

DocuSign A/B Testing Control

It’s also important to remember that traffic is coming to your homepage often from a variety of different channels with visitors across the spectrum of their knowledge of your product or service. Let’s see if we can create a broader message to more clearly introduce DocuSign to its visitors.

Variation:

DocuSign A/B Testing Variation

Without a doubt, this headline change is better optimized for welcoming a variety of different type of homepage visitors. Especially, any new visitors will now have a much better understanding of their product offering and how they can begin to learn more.

5) Cvent.com

It’s important to remember that when you’re not personalizing your homepage headline to specific visiting audiences, the experience for the larger audience as a whole often needs to be a bit of a catch-all.

My hypothesis here is that Cvent’s headline may be missing a major keyword that resonates with their target audience and expect to see; especially with new visitors. See if you can spot it.

Control:

Cvent A/B Testing Control

At its most basic, what do you think cvent helps people do? Exactly, plan events. However, that language seems to be missing. Let’s change that.

Variation:

Cvent A/B Testing Variation

My theory here is that visitors have this idea in their head that is focused on planning the event. Emphasis on the plan. In the control, using “transform” just seems a bit abstract and slightly off the mark.

Perhaps this variation headline would add a bit of clarity and better align with the expectation of the broader target audience, while also improving the information scent for visitors coming from search engines after performing a search related to event planning, not transforming.

It’s worth a test to see if the current message is missing the mark of the broader visiting audience.

6) Udemy.com

The internet is the ultimate level playing field. Any business can go online and offer a product or service. However, this also means increased competition, which is why it’s critical to create a homepage with messaging that immediately portrays what you’re offering.

Without a doubt, the online course space is extremely competitive. And a homepage headline is a great place to distinguish yourself and clearly state your offering.

So for Udemy, my hypothesis is that the primary headline isn’t differentiating itself from the competition and could also be doing a better job articulating their primary benefit.

Control:

Udemy A/B Testing Control

Let’s see how we can attempt to stand out a bit more and better align the offer messaging with visitor’s desired outcomes.

Variation:

Udemy A/B Testing Variation

As you can see, by being a bit more specific with our message we are able to remove any lack of clarity the audience may be experiencing and better promote our value of assisting people in developing the skills that they want to learn, thus encouraging them to take key actions on the site and use the product or service.

7) Virtuwell.com

Usually, I’m all for simplicity, but it’s important for simple messages to also not be vague. A homepage headline message should be somewhat unique to your organization. If you wrote this headline on a piece of paper, I’d give you a less than 10% chance that someone would say it’s describing an online clinic.

That’s why my hypothesis for Virtuwell is that the headline is so simple and non-unique, that it actually doesn’t resonate with visitors or compel them to continue.

Control:

Virtuwell A/B Testing Control

Overall, this headline could be cut and pasted on hundreds of different types of website homepages. Anything ranging from an organic snack company to a functional fitness program could say simple is better. Let’s see if we can maintain the simplicity of the headline while also being a bit more specific.

Variation:

Virtuwell A/B Testing Variation

Overall, we’re able to keep the headline message short and simple, while still providing visitors with context behind what value they are portraying. Never leave interpretation up to your visitors. Reduce friction by improving clarity.

Write down this headline on a piece of paper to give to someone and I guarantee their guess will be more closely aligned with what the organization actually does.

8) Tinypulse.com

Running messaging experiments on your homepage headline is perfect for helping figure out what your audience thinks is the primary user benefit for your product or service. Through data, we can determine which message helps drive a larger amount of users to take your primary action.

Here, Tinypulse is presenting a message focused on what the product does; it discovers feedback. However, my hypothesis is that visitors would prefer to focus on what the outcome of the product provides: a unique ability to evaluate employee feedback.

Control:

tinypulse a/b testing control

And with a few small tweaks, we can change the headline to focus on the user benefit instead of the product feature.

Variation:

TinyPulse A/B Testing Variation

You may have noticed that I tweaked the first and second headlines on the page. Overall, I felt that it was needed to help visitors focus on the actual benefit/outcome of using the product.

I highly recommend keeping your messaging focused on the user benefit versus the product feature. Make your customers your heroes of the story by showing them how your product or service can support them in their quest.

There are No Guaranteed Best Practices

Without a doubt, every idea for a headline change presented here may or may not lead to a winning experiment. In fact, many experiment variations don’t win though increasing the number of variations could increase your average win rate. Either way, if planned and executed correctly, you should always learn something from any A/B testing you run. When you iterate and do find a winner, you’ll be amazed to see how something so simple could create a positive impact. And that’s why we test!

Because it’s often the most visited page on a website, the homepage headline message is a primary candidate for executing experiments to help positively impact your businesses KPIs.

If you’re struggling to start putting together ideas for a new headline, just try this little trick. Read through your highly-rated online reviews as well as open-ended survey question responses to see what your brand evangelists are saying about you. That feedback can be a goldmine.

Just remember, the best results come from iterative testing over time. What works for one organization’s website, may not work for others. But – by analyzing user data, creating a sound hypothesis, and continuously running experiments, you can ensure that you will always be capturing insights to help you make a decision regarding implementing changes to your website that will help you drive growth.

If you’d like to learn more about how CROmetrics can help your organization gain user insights and drive growth through A/B testing program management and execution, contact us.

 

Grant Tilus, a Growth Product Manager at CROmetricsGrant is a Growth Product Manager at CROmetrics. Throughout his career, he has led A/B testing programs at a number of high-profile organizations across a variety of industries including higher education, SaaS, e-commerce, hospitality and media. He’s based in Jordan, Minnesota where he enjoys spending time with his wife and three girls, staying fit, and participating in local community events. Feel free to connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter.