Which is better? Having a long home page with lots of copy, or a short one?

The correct answer is of course ‘it depends’, but I’m going to show you 4 cases where short home page kicked long home page butt.

Case #1: Moto Message

We initially built a long home page for Moto Message, addressing all the key issues that came out from our user research. The very first A/B test we launched was to test it out against a much shorter version.

Our goal here was to get more people to take a tour of their service (text message marketing software) and get to the pricing page.

Results:

With the shorter version, 97% more people went to their Tour & Features page and 21% more people landed on their pricing page.

Case #2: DesignBoost

DesignBoost is like Codeschool for designers. They have online courses that teach you to design kickass mobile apps, landing pages and more in Photoshop.

The primary goal for the home page is to get more people to sign up for their free design course, so they would get a taste of what DesignBoost offers. Secondary goal is a clickthrough to the Courses page, so people would find a course of interest.

We ran a very long and thorough version against a minimal version:

Results:

13% more email signups (every bit helps) and 25% more people checking out their courses. I call that a win.

Case #3: Pipedrive

Pipedrive is a sales pipeline management tool, a kind of a CRM.

After their investors recommended making the homepage shorter, and they (at first) begrudgingly ran the test, Pipedrive achieved a 300% increase in signups:

This is what their CEO Timo said about this:

We confused people with loads of content and provided several call to actions, e.g. sign up, choose a package, read about features or see a live demo. We then put most of the text from the front page to other pages. We removed as many hurdles from the registering path as we could, even the package selection page had to go. We figured that if people like the product they can be bothered with settings and details later.

Case #4: ConversionXL

I run tests on my own blog all the time. Recently I ran a test where I ran my already short home page against even shorter one:

I didn’t expect much since the difference was tiny – the longer version had my handsome face + intro text + latest blog post excerpt. These were the results:

This blew my mind. Almost 2,5x more email subscriptions just because I removed two blocks of information? Wow. Not that just, also 25% more clickthroughs to my blog and 45% more people checked out my services – #winning!

Why is that

No-one can tell for sure, but my hypothesis is that due to short attention spans people want to get straight to the point. If there’s a single message and a single primary call to action, it’s far easier to figure out if this is the right things for me, and it’s easier to take action.

The goal of the home page is to get people off the home page – down your sales funnel. And shorter home page seems to do it well.

“But I’ve seen long form pages perform better!”

Of course you have, and so have I. It’s not about the length really, it’s what is the right content for a particular audience.

There’s the famous SEOMoz case study where a longer page helped to achieve a conversion increase of around 170% over four months:

And of course the CrazyEgg case study where updated and much longer version grew its revenue by 510% :

In these cases above, it wasn’t just the page length that was extended – but the right content was served to the target audience, the checkout process was optimized and so on.

When is short home page better?

Also, a major difference between the 4 case studies above and the 2 long ones is that the short pages didn’t ask for money. When you want people to take action that doesn’t cost them dollars (email signups, free trial, clickthrough), short pages perform better in almost every test I run.

If you’re asking for $$$, people need way more information to make a decision and hence a long form page might be a more suitable option. In the end, it depends on the goal of your home page.

The copy matrix

Bob Kemper, Director of Sciences, MECLABS, has created a simple matrix to help you determine which length of copy is likely to be more effective for your product or service. He has analyzed hundreds of tests in the MarketingExperiments optimization labs, and from that he has discovered a few factors that help determine copy length effectiveness.

Factors affecting the efficacy of body copy length on a landing page:

  •  Nature of visitor motivation
  • Initial level of Anxiety about product/company
  • Level of cost/commitment associated with conversion.

According to Bob, short copy performs better when there is low perceived risk, low cost, and low commitment. Also, when the customer has an emotional, impulsive, and “want-oriented” motivation. In other words, if you’re looking to write high-impact copy for concert tickets, designer shoes, or mp3 players…keep it short.

Bob states that long copy is the better performer when there is a rational, analytical, need-oriented motivation. Think consumer insurance products or many complex B2B offerings.

Conclusion

Always, always make 2 versions for your home page – and split test them.

If the short one ends up winning, it’s not a waste. You just take the content of the longer page and make it a separate page. In Designboost and Moto Message case, we created  a separate Tour and Why Choose Us pages from the content of the longer home page.

You’ve got to capture people’s interest, and then they might be ready for more information. People always want information to help them decide when they’re comparison shopping or want to make sure a product is right for them. By moving the content onto a separate page and adding it to the menu, you’re giving people an option to read it when they’re ready for it.

 

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