Split-Testing and Landing Pages

Everyone knows the value of split-testing (A-B testing), and just about anyone who uses Google AdWords split-tests their paid search ads. But if split-testing is so useful, why do so few people split-test landing pages? Obviously, there is more work (and hence money) involved in designing two landing pages than there is in writing two paid search ads. However, the value of achieving a higher click-through rate from a landing page is arguably more important than at any other previous stage in the sales cycle. People who have reached a landing page have self-qualified their interest.

I just finished doing a small test in Google. I randomly selected about a dozen different search phrases off the top of my head - some that I knew would bring up large corporations and some that I thought would return smaller companies. For each search, I then clicked on each of the top 5 paid search ads, 10 times each. If a company was doing true split testing, the landing page would randomly redirect me sometimes to one page and sometimes to another. Split-tested landing pages usually have code like the following in them:

<?php if (rand(0, 1) == 0)
  header("Location: http://www.MySite.com/SplitTest_1");
  header("Location: http://www.MySite.com/SplitTest_2");

However, in 100% of my admittedly small sampling, I found no evidence of split-testing. Interestingly, two of the search terms I tested were "split testing landing pages" and "a-b testing landing pages". Even the companies who placed paid search ads for those terms didn't bother split-testing their landing pages.

The only conclusion I can draw from this is that the state-of-the-art in landing page design has reached its pinnacle of effectiveness such that marketers no longer need to split test their designs. Kudos to them! I don't know how I missed that conference! Now where can I find that whitepaper to tell me how to design landing pages with perfect effectiveness each time so I don't have to split-test either?

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