How to Create Landing Page Variants & Optimize with AI
You’ve built the perfect landing page. Your headline is simultaneously descriptive and urgent. You’ve got a hero image of someone holding your product, weeping with joy. Your explainer video becomes a surprise hit at Cannes (though it’s controversially snubbed by the Academy). Your testimonials include Beyoncé and Tom Hanks, and you have to shrink the New York Times just to fit Disney into your “as seen in” logo spread.
Dream on, right? There’s no such thing as a perfect landing page because there’s no such thing as a page that converts every visitor. One person thinks your headline is condescending. Another doesn’t see themselves in your hero image. Everyone loves Beyoncé, but plenty think the live-action remake of The Lion King was a cash grab. Your page doesn’t speak to each person uniquely, so they bounce.
That’s why Unbounce created Smart Traffic, an AI-powered conversion tool that automatically routes each visitor to the landing page where our
robot algorithm says they’re most likely to convert. Unlike A/B testing (which is all about creating landing page variants and choosing the one that performs best), Smart Traffic lets you create as many variants as you need to appeal to each type of visitor.
Bottom line: Smart Traffic helps you capture more of those leads you’re missing out on.
Sounds great, right? (Biased opinion: It is.) The only catch is that Smart Traffic needs variants to send traffic to, and coming up with different versions of the same page can be tough. What the heck are you even supposed to… you know, variate?
We’ve always said that the most effective landing page structure includes five core elements. Below, we’ve got ideas for how you can use variants to optimize each one of them, plus examples of brands that are already doing it right:
- Unique Selling Point (USP)
- Hero Image & Page Design
- Features & Benefits Copy
- Social Proof
- Call to Action (CTA)
Variant Idea #1: Try Changing Your Unique Selling Point (USP) in the Headline
If you’re new to landing page optimization, experimenting with your unique selling point (USP) might be the quickest way to get started. Changing the way you frame your offer can help you stand out from your competitors. Clearly describing the value people will get makes them more likely to convert. And with a tool like Smart Traffic, you can create landing page variants to highlight different selling points for each audience segment.
While your USP should inform your entire page, the headline (and subheadline, if you have one) is where you really state it outright. Along with your hero image, this is the first thing your visitors see above the fold.
The goal here is to clearly and succinctly describe your value proposition (while also ensuring the message matches the traffic source, whether that’s a search ad or email promo). It also better be engaging. You’ve only got a few seconds to capture visitors’ attention and assure them they’re in the right place.
Check out how Winc, a wine club subscription service, is optimizing their headline and hero image on this great-looking Unbounce-built landing page:
In their original page, Winc uses the headline “Unbox, Uncork, Enjoy.” It’s catchy—the sort of thing that’d stick in someone’s head after they’ve left—but anyone unfamiliar with the company might not get it right away.
This Winc variant takes the subhead from the original page and deploys it as the primary headline. Paired with a new hero image that includes one of Winc’s delivery boxes, this variant more quickly and clearly communicates the company’s USP: “a world of wine [at] your doorstep.”
Sometimes, the headline and subhead that work best will surprise you (which makes them fun to experiment with). Here are some things to try as you set up your variants for Smart Traffic:
- Try different selling points. Could you frame your USP in more than one way? If you’re running a car wash, maybe one headline is about having the shiniest wax, while another is about the speed of your service. Create variants for each value prop.
- Appeal to various audiences. Your visitors are a motley bunch. They come from all over the world. They click through from different sources on different devices. How can you pitch your USP in your headline to resonate with those different groups?
- Keep it simple. Try to describe your USP as quickly and explicitly as possible, then make it your headline. If someone read that and not any other part of your page, would they understand your offer?
- Change the tone. Is your headline highlighting a problem (negative), or presenting a solution (positive)? Is it serious, or funny? Could it be reframed from a statement to a question? Test your language to see how that changes the way visitors react to your USP.
- Introduce social proof. Sometimes other people sell your offer better than you can. We’ll get to social proof a little further on, but short quotes from customers can make for compelling headlines or subheads.
Variant Idea #2: Swap in a Different Hero Image or Rearrange Your Page Layout
Another great element to optimize is your hero image. This is your opportunity to show your offer in the context of use: a person happily pushing your new-age lawnmower, or someone really jazzed up by your webinar. (Hey, we can dream.) You’ve got a video of that lawnmower annihilating Elon Musk’s overgrown lawn? All the better.
As we saw in the Winc example above, experimenting with your hero image can help you find better ways to communicate your offer (or, if you’re using Smart Traffic, tailor each variant to highlight a different aspect of your offer). Winc’s original hero shot displayed a row of wine bottles. Just by putting a delivery box alongside that image, Winc adds a new layer of meaning. Visitors instantly understand the USP.
And it’s not just your hero image. Every design element on your landing page is up for negotiation. For example, see how popular meal delivery service Dinnerly created two variants of this price comparison landing page—one with navigation, one without.
Or check out this Unbounce landing page from the sleep experts at Helix. The original variant is great: it lays out Helix’s USP step-by-step, includes loads of (often hilarious) social proof, and keeps things light with casual copy and memery.
Still, Helix felt like something was missing… a certain je ne sais quoi. So they decided to zhuzh it up.
Literally. (you, Helix—you guys crack us up.)
Just by adding a little color—a yellow squiggle here, a red block there—Helix makes the page pop. It’s fun. And you can zhuzh up your own landing page design by experimenting with some of these variants using Smart Traffic:
- Swap out your hero image. If your hero shot is product-focused, try using one that’s more about people (and vice versa). Explore whether photography or illustration resonates better with your audience.
- Introduce video. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Then what about blasting 60 pictures every second? There are some real benefits to using video on your landing pages, so if you’ve got the resources, give it a shot.
- Scramble your layout. Try removing navigation from your landing page. Split your layout into two or three columns. Mix your sections around to see what works best.
- Add some flair. Directional cues and movement can help you focus visitor attention on specific parts of the page. Adding a splash of color or quirky visual elements can help you cut through the noise.
Variant Idea #3: Optimize Copy Length & See Which Benefits Resonate Most with Different Audiences
Next up, we’ve got your benefits—all those words below the fold that describe your offer and explain the real value of it. In terms of content, you want to both inform visitors what your product or service is (the details and features) and why they should care (how those features make their lives better).
Where you can really optimize here is in the way you present that information. Some offers need to be explained at length. Others might not need more than a few sentences. You can also toy with line breaks and bullets to make your copy more digestible, or rearrange content so that visitors see certain benefits first.
Take a look at this landing page from Savile Row Company, an upscale clothing brand. The page (built with Blimpp) is super thorough. Savile Row highlights the different value props, the range of shirts available, the glowing reviews from customers.
This page really hammers home the quality of the product, but how much of that stuff is essential to converting visitors? Savile wanted to find out, so they created a variant of the landing page that’s less than half the length of the original.
It’s got most of the same imagery, but lots of the copy—the value propositions, the descriptions of each kind of shirt—have been scrapped. As a result, this variant of Savile Row’s landing page is out-converting the original by a few percentage points. Less can be more.
Try creating variant landing pages for Smart Traffic with some of these changes to your benefits copy:
- Make it about value. Yeah, tell visitors what your offer is or does, but also be sure to explain how it benefits them in a meaningful way. Shameless example-plug: At Unbounce, we like to talk about our drag-and-drop builder, but the value of that is marketers can create awesome landing pages fast, without a developer.
- Check out reviews for new angles. Sometimes, one of your (seemingly) less significant value props can be the most important for a subsection of your audience. Sort through reviews of your offer and see if there’s a particular benefit that’s popular enough to have its own page variant.
- Play with length and formatting. Long landing page? Try scrapping half of it. If you’ve got a short page, see what happens when you create a variant with extra sections. Shuffle up the order of your copy and try breaking things up with bullet points.
Variant Idea #4: Find New Sources of Social Proof
One of the most powerful tools of persuasion at your disposal is social proof. It tells visitors you’re reliable—that your product or service works like you say it does. It also tells them they can trust you with precious data, like their email addresses, credit card information, and Netflix history.
Your main opportunity here is to optimize with different types of social proof, so we’ll jump right into applying them to your Smart Traffic variants:
- Use (believable) testimonials. Find and include customer reviews from people online. (Double-check each website’s rules to be sure you can use them.) If you’ve already got some, make sure they sound like they came from a real person. Even legit reviews can come off as plants if they’re too robotic or kind.
- Add a logo bar. Logos from other brands that have used your product or service (or media outlets that have featured your company) can act as a stamp of approval. You become more trustworthy just by association.
- Include review scores. If you’re on Amazon, Yelp, or Capterra, you can repurpose your customer ratings on your landing page. Make sure it’s at least equivalent to 90% or above, though—anything lower doesn’t look great. (Tell that to my college GPA. C’s get degrees, y’all.)
Variant Idea #5: Rewrite Your Call to Action (CTA) & Incentivize Your Offer
Finally, we’ve got your call to action (CTA). The jewel in the crown. The thing that the rest of your landing page exists to support.
There are a few ways to experiment with your CTA. One is testing the CTA itself—the actual text and button on the page. The copy should be snappy and engaging, and tell visitors the benefit they’ll get with their click. It should also stand out from the rest of the page. Try making it bigger, changing the color, or adding directional cues to help draw attention.
Also consider how much work you’re asking visitors to do. Clicking a single button is much lower effort than filling out a lengthy form. The incentive matters, too. Free shipping, a trial period, or a small discount can help convert people who are on the fence.
Here’s a simple example from Codecademy, which has online courses in a ton of different programming languages. They created a variant of this landing page with just one teeny difference: the bit of copy in their CTA button.
Who are these different CTAs for? “Get Pro Now” likely appeals to visitors who are already sold on the platform—they know Codecademy Pro is what they want, so hurry up and give it to them, damnit. But people who aren’t familiar with Codecademy might be hesitant. “Start My Free Trial” is a lower commitment and might better convert those who are undecided.
Here are some ideas for optimizing your call to action with Smart Traffic:
- Change up your copy. Is your CTA compelling? Does it say what’s going to happen when a visitor clicks? Would you click it? The copy here is ripe for experimentation, so go wild.
- Test out the button. Use a sharp color that stands out from the rest of the page. Make the text bolder, big. Think about how visitors scan your page (top to bottom, left to right). Could your CTA be in a more obvious spot?
- Make it easy. Do you really need visitors’ email addresses, or do you just want them to buy your knockoff Lego? Where you can, replace forms with a clickthrough button. If you absolutely need a form, try cutting down on the number of fields, or hide the form on a second page behind a button CTA.
- Incentivize action. Highlight any bonus value you’ve got—things like free shipping or 90-day returns. See how even a small discount impacts your conversion rates.
Automatically Optimize Your Landing Pages with Smart Traffic
It’s true that there’s no such thing as a perfect landing page for your whole audience. But there is a perfect landing page for each individual visitor.
Smart Traffic helps you get more sales and signups by automatically sending visitors to the landing page that best resonates with them. No more testing, no more champions—just more conversions.