79% more leads without more traffic: Here’s how we did it

In this case study, we’ll show how we used research-driven CRO (conversion rate optimization) techniques to increase lead conversion rate by 79% for China Expat Health, a lead generation company.

Help TechCrunch find the best growth marketers for startups.

Provide a recommendation in this quick survey and we’ll share the results with everybody.

In the image below, the mobile site view on the left, labeled “before,” is the control ( “A” version) while that on the right, labeled “after,” is the optimized page (“B” version). We conducted a split test aka A/B test, directing half of the traffic to each version, and the result attained 95% statistical significance. Read on for a description of the key changes made.

Before-and-after screenshots of the mobile version of ChinaExpatHealth after a marketing test.

Image Credits: Jasper Kuria

Used a headline with a more compelling value proposition

The headline on the control version is “Health Insurance in China.” If I am an expat looking for health insurance in China, at least I know I am in the right place but I don’t immediately have a reason to choose you. I have to scroll and infer this from multiple elements.

For revenue-generating landing pages it is best to always follow the Bauhaus design aesthetic (from architecture). Form follows function, ornament is evil!

The winning version instantly conveys a compelling value proposition: “Save Up to 32% on Your Health Insurance in China,” accompanied by “evidentials” to support this claim — the number of past customers and a relevant testimonial with a 4.5 star rating (by the way, it is better to use a default static testimonial rather than a moving carousel).

As the famed old-school direct response marketer John Caples taught us, “The reader’s attention is yours only for a single instant. They will not spend their valuable time trying to figure out what you mean.” What was true in Caples’ 1920s heyday is doubly so in the mobile age, when attention spans are shorter than a fruit fly’s!

Hundreds of CRO case studies have shown that of all the elements you can change on a page, articulating a compelling value proposition is the single biggest lever you have for producing a conversion lift. And the headline is the best place to do it because five times as many people read the headline as the body copy. If you can only test one thing on a page it should be the headline.

Lastly, in numerous direct response marketing tests the word “your” in a headline correlated to conversion rate so we used it here.

Designed explicitly for mobile

Most traffic is mobile these days so you should design for mobile first and desktop second. Do NOT rely on your responsive web framework to render mobile however it sees fit — it ends up wasting valuable space and often uses a less optimal order/hierarchy of key elements (as in the the control version).

By designing for mobile first you also end up with a better desktop version because designing for a constrained space forces you to think hard and figure out the most important elements.

Simplified design aesthetic

When we showed the two versions to various people, most said that the “before” version looked better. But this misses the point. The goal is more leads at a lower cost per lead, not aesthetics.

After the football coach, the marketer has the hardest job in the world. If you are an engineer, doctor, lawyer, nurse or accountant, most people realize they are not qualified to critique your work.

Not so the marketer. Everyone and their cousin will weigh in authoritatively claiming that their wife’s in-law’s mother’s third cousin twice-removed doesn’t like some aspect of the design, so please change it!

Fortunately for us CRO practitioners, we have the A/B test and can offer irrefutable evidence that a given version is more effective at generating revenue or reducing cost per lead.

For revenue-generating landing pages it is best to always follow the Bauhaus design aesthetic (from architecture). Form follows function, ornament is evil!

In the winning version we moved up the interaction device (the form), making it visible in the first mobile screenful. Note that it promises instant gratification i.e., pick the number of people you are insuring and see a list of prices from various insurers.

In concert with the headline, which primes the visitor to want to find out how low a price they can get, this increases curiosity and therefore follow-through. While the user has to fill in a few more fields to actually see prices, once they get started, most complete the form.

Final thoughts

Using research-based CRO principles to optimize a landing page for PPC (pay per click) traffic produced a 79% conversion lift, dramatically reducing the cost per lead for the company. They could then afford to bid more per click, which increased their overall monthly leads. CRO can have this kind of transformative effect on your business.