In this guest post my good friend Jan Koch is going to share some extremely valuable stuff when it comes to A/B Testing for virtual summit hosts.
I personally mentored Jan through the process of creating his own epic virtual summit earlier in 2014 and I wanted him to share something that is often overlooked, but is so important… constantly testing and tweaking to make sure you get great results.
You’ll enjoy this — take it away, Jan!
Conversion rate optimization is a huge topic for virtual summit hosts.
The conversion rate is the one number that determines whether a summit is “a success” or failed.
Usually, when running a virtual summit, you want as many attendees as possible – and you want to upsell them to a paid membership.
It's a numbers game.
The more attendees for the free interviews you have, the more people you can upsell to your paid membership.
And thus, the more money you can potentially earn.
On the WP Summit, the opt-in rate was 68.69% according to OptinMonster.
After the summit had ended, I started a new company called ABCD Impact.
We do split-testing services on a flat monthly fee, helping our clients to increase conversion rates on their landing pages and in their online shops.
And today I want to show you how split-testing can increase the conversion rates for your virtual summit.
1. Optimize the landing page structure
There's a certain order in which you should place the elements on a landing page. This order is as true for general landing pages as it is for virtual summit landing pages.
Having these elements on your landing page gives you a solid foundation for optimizing your conversion rates.
Oli Gardner from Unbounce outlines five essential elements landing pages should have. For virtual summits, you can modify these a bit:
1. The Unique Hook
This element is a headline and a subtitle positioning your virtual summit and getting your visitors hooked.
Navid teaches you exactly how to get that unique hook, and his most recent success with Chandler Bolt's summit is proving the importance.
Remember to not just mention this hook in the first headline and subtitle above the fold. You need to remind your visitors of that hook while they're browsing through your page.
Usually, landing pages for virtual summits are in the long-form landing page style. You're explaining the topics, announcing the speakers, and giving yourself a small introduction.
Throughout these sections, you need to use sub-headlines to re-emphasize your unique hook. By using these supporting headlines, you can convert visitors into attendees who didn't sign up directly above the fold.
2. The Hero-Shot
A hero shot most often is an image or video that demonstrates the context of use.
“Your hero shot should dominate the page, making it immediately clear what the page is about. Your USP should reinforce the product shot and vice-versa. If they don’t work together, the audience will become confused.” – Oli Gardner
For your summit, you can use a video where you explain:
- What your summit is all about
- What attendees will get out of your summit
- Who is speaking and what qualifies them
- What it's like to attend your summit
It can be a quick video. Usually, you don't want to go longer than 3 minutes.
Humans don't have long attention spans anymore (unless they are SUPER excited about something), so don't waste everyone's time by recording a 10-minute video.
Can you get a high conversion rate without video? Absolutely.
My WP Summit didn't have a video as hero-shot, here's what I used:
I put this graphic of all the speakers on top of the page and placed my main headline right below it. This way I made sure, that every visitor on my site saw who's speaking.
If your line-up includes well-known speakers (which it should in any case), the visitors on your site will recognize their faces and get more intrigued to sign up.
3. The benefit statement
Obviously, your landing page needs to tell your audience why they need to attend your virtual summit (note: I didn't write “should attend”).
Most virtual summits are broken down into different phases or focus on one topic per day.
Outline exactly what those phases/topics teach, who teaches and how they'll help your attendees achieve their goals.
When looking at other virtual summits, you'll often see the benefits visualized using icons, bullet points, and plain text.
I personally prefer using icons and graphics, as they make the site easier to understand for your audience. They don't want to read a lot of text on landing pages; they want to decide easily whether they want to attend or don't want to.
4. Social Proof
Why do you think people love to buy from Amazon? Because of the reviews other users left.
I know, that's an old example, but it's true. Humans tend to trust other humans more than they trust companies.
On a virtual summit landing page, you have three ways to add social proof:
1. You include speakers in your line-up that automatically add authority by just joining your event. Those are the true world-shakers, the ones that everybody in your field pays attention to. Yes, they're hard to get – but they're worth the hustle.
2. You add logos of places your speakers have been featured on. Trust me, it feels great to put all the logos of big platforms into one graphic and show that on your site.
3. When you get pre-sales, you can ask those customers to send you a testimonial about the quality of the paid membership.
5. The Call-to-Action
Your CTA obviously has just one goal: turn visitors into attendees.
That's the only purpose of a landing page for a virtual summit and why split-testing your CTA is so important.
You need to eliminate all elements that distract from that goal. Your visitors need to have only two options:
– sign up for free access
– leave the page
Let me get some myths about CTAs out of the way right now:
- There is no one color that performs best.
- You have to test “my” vs. “your” oriented copy.
- Big buttons don't always perform better than small ones.
You want your visitors to act on your Call-to-Action, so you need to place it prominently on your page.
In most cases, you'll have a CTA above the fold so that it's visible without scrolling.
You'll have several CTAs throughout the page so that you convert those visitors that take the time and read your copy.
Split-Testing Landing Pages for Virtual Summits
The art of building highly converting landing pages lies in testing what works. This testing process is called split-testing or A/B testing.
You create two variations of the landing page and see which one gets a higher conversion rate.
In the context of virtual summits, you should run at least the following two A/B tests:
1. Test your landing page to get as many subscribers as possible.
2. Test your sales page to upsell as many attendees to your premium package.
These two pages are probably the most important pages on your virtual summit website; that's why this post focuses on them.
Tools For Split-Testing
Plenty of tools allow you to run split tests on your website.
If you're building your summit website with WordPress, you choose from many tools. I prefer one of these:
If you don't expect your summit to exceed 50,000 monthly visitors, then you can even use the free plan of Optimizely.
This free plan gives you all options you need to get started with A/B testing and optimizing your conversions.
Visual Website Optimizer and Nelio A/B Testing come with a price-tag but offer more functionality than the free Optimizely plan.
So, which one is right for you?
While Nelio has been designed to work with WordPress only, VWO and Optimizely will work with any website that allows you to add some code to it.
The choice of the split-testing tool will heavily depend on your usage requirements.
If you just want to split-test your site, Optimizely is the best choice when you're on a tight budget.
If you want heat maps, split-testing, and click maps, VWO or Nelio will get the job done.
Is Split-Testing Important For Any Summit?
Absolutely any virtual summit benefits from running split-tests to increase the conversions.
Even if you don't have any technical skills, you should see split-testing as mandatory in the prelaunch phase.
It's easy to get started with split-testing.
There are lots and lots of contents on how to do split-testing properly and many A/B testing best practices.
If you don't have time to run A/B tests yourself, you can hire my company ABCD Impact to run them for you – on a flat fee.
Most important is to have the right timing in running split-tests.
You have to run them in the prelaunch phase, not when the summit is running.
Because you want to know what converts best once the summit is going at full steam.
Knowing which copy converts most traffic into subscribers is crucial, knowing what marketing strategy generates the most upsells even more.
That's why, before you launch the summit, you should have tested the following elements on your landing page:
- The main headline
- The hero shot
- The CTA
Also, make sure to have your metrics in place:
- Set up goals and funnels in Google Analytics
- Build custom audiences for social ads
- Run heat maps and click maps
Last but not least, check out these resources to get some inspiration for A/B tests for your virtual summit:
- Reduce distractions to get 255.9% more subscribers
- 5 landing page A/B tests and their surprising results
- 12 tips for multivariate testing
A/B testing can make a crucial difference for the success of your virtual summit.
Aj Amyx and Andy Zitzmann used it heavily for their Movement Marketing Summit; I did for the WP Summit as well.
We both saw solid results from our events, which we most likely couldn't have achieved without running A/B tests.
However, running A/B tests adds a serious amount of work to your plate.
As if preparing your summit wasn't enough, A/B testing demands constant monitoring and adjustments.
That's why I founded ABCD Impact, a company providing unlimited split-testing and community development services on a fixed monthly fee.
We take the workload off your shoulders and let you focus on your virtual summit.
You can, of course, use this post to get started on split-testing yourself.
Just note one last thing:
Usually, A/B testing doesn't bring conversion rate increases of several hundred percent.
In most cases, you'll see decreases in conversion rates – and you'll have to take the right clues from those. This is where experience in online marketing comes into play.
Be prepared for an exciting journey!