Book Review: Landing Page Optimization: The Definitive Guide to Testing and Tuning for Conversions by Tim Ash , Maura Ginty, and Rich Page

The first edition of Tim Ash’s Landing Page Optimization has been called the Conversion Bible (by me, at least). Unlike the religious tome, though, this resource is far from static. The newest edition has been improved, expanded, and even sports a couple of new co-authors.

Neuromarketing readers will enjoy the way Ash and his co-authors approach the topic. Early on, the book defines the skills needed by a world-class optimizer to include, among others,

  • Psychology and motivation
  • Neuroscience
  • Social psychology and persuasion

The recognition that the decisions made by website visitors are often heavily driven by non-conscious factors permeates the book, no doubt due in part to the fact that Ash has a degree in Cognitive Science along with his technical degrees.

More Than Landing Pages

If this book has a flaw, it’s the title. It implies that the content is limited to the specialized topic of landing page design. While landing pages are indeed a great topic if you are buying costly search ads, the majority of websites probably don’t do that. Take the millions of blogs on the Web – many have a business purpose, but very few run search marketing campaigns. In fact, in today’s world where traffic is driven by both web search and social media referrals, ANY page on a website can (and probably will) be a landing page.

Ideally, the title could be far more encompassing, something like, “Design and Optimize Your Website for Business Success.” The content includes all aspects of creating and fixing websites to get results: defining your objectives, characterizing your visitors, developing your call to action, designing each kind of page, measurement and testing, and even selling the importance of these efforts to others in the organization.

Increasing the ROI on PPC, SEO, etc.

Conversion FunnelCompanies spend a lot of money to bring people to their site. Sometimes it’s by pay-per-click ads. Sometimes it’s by investing in SEO or content marketing. These days, expenditures likely include an aggressive social media program. Often, the company expends a lot of effort to optimize the traffic generation process – sophisticated keyword and bid management on PPC campaigns, for example. Oddly, these same companies fail to look at the user experience when the visitor arrives at the site, and they fail to take all of the steps necessary to turn that visitor into a conversion. Often, a comparatively tiny investment in the design of the site itself can add leverage to all those other efforts and turn weak campaigns into highly profitable ones. That’s what Landing Page Optimization is all about – examining the user experience and making changes that increase the probability of conversion.

The Scientific Approach

One aspect of LPO that I find highly appealing is the scientific approach it emphasizes. While I enjoy the aspects dealing with visitor psychology, Ash underscores a theme I constantly harp on myself: frequent testing. Pseudo-experts tell you, “Do this because I say it works.” Real experts, like Ash, sing a different tune: “Here’s the research that backs up my recommendation. Now test it yourself, because no two environments are the same.” Since my early years in direct marketing, I’ve been a believer in data-driven decision-making. The Web gives us unparalleled ability to test variations in design, price, copy, and other factors, but few site owners use that capability to full advantage. Ash and his co-authors explain how to use testing, along with tools like eye-tracking (both real and simulated), mouse tracking, and more, to nail down the changes that will have a real impact on conversion.

An Essential Tool for the Web Marketer

This book is truly comprehensive. Over the years, Ash’s firm, SiteTuners, has worked with many hundreds of websites – LPO is a “brain dump” of the knowledge gained through this effort. If you have a website intended to achieve a goal – leads, subscriptions, product sales, content consumption, or any other visitor action – you need this book. It’s thorough, it’s detailed, and it’s profusely illustrated with what to do (and occasionally, what not to do).

Anyone responsible for the design or performance of websites needs this book. Even executives without hands-on responsibility will find LPO a useful guide to understanding the possibilities for conversion measurement and improvement. An executive or business owner armed with LPO will be able to interact with both technical and marketing staff to ensure peak site performance.

Now, I’m going to close this review so I can do some tweaking and testing of my own! Buy this book!

Amazon Paperback: Landing Page Optimization: The Definitive Guide to Testing and Tuning for Conversions
Amazon Kindle: Landing Page Optimization: The Definitive Guide to Testing and Tuning for Conversions