If you’re a time-strapped marketer, you probably often ask yourself: “Should I spend more time perfecting the written copy or tweaking the visual design of my landing page?”
Designing a landing page can be daunting. If it’s not your area of expertise, making your landing page look the part becomes time-consuming and frustrating—even expensive, particularly if you need a designer to do the heavy lifting for you. Many marketers struggle for hours, days, or weeks because they’ve been told design is one of the most significant factors when it comes to landing page performance.
But just how important is design? Does it impact your conversion rate enough to warrant all that extra work? How does design stack up against other key factors like copy?
These are some of the questions we asked ourselves here at Unbounce. After all, we’re all about conversion intelligence: Combining your marketing expertise with machine learning so you can make informed decisions based on the latest available data—and get the most conversion bang for your buck.
With that in mind, our data team set out to understand precisely how landing page conversion rates are affected by design and copy.
And what did we learn? Design isn’t as important as you might think.
How Did We Get Our Data?
Before diving into the results, let’s chat about the data we used and how we went about our research.
At Unbounce, we’re lucky to have more than a decade’s worth of landing page data totaling billions of individual conversions. For our design analysis, we looked at 36,928 English language page variants active between March 2019 and March 2020.
We took snapshots of these landing pages and trained various image-based learning models to predict their conversion rates. To evaluate copy, we extracted the written content of each landing page. We trained a machine-learning model (or, to get a lil nerdy, a deep learning-based natural language model) to predict conversion rates from the copy of each page.
To compare the relative importance of copy versus design on landing page conversion rates, we created a new predictive model by combining the results of the best performing image- and copy-based models. We did this across all 36,928 pages in our dataset and averaged the contributions to give us the “relative importance of design” and “relative importance of copy.”
Editor’s note: For the experts, all values quoted are on a holdout test set consisting of 10% of the dataset.
So, How Does Design Stack Up Against Copy?
As it turns out, design may not be as impactful—or as worthy of stressing about—as you may think. Our results showed copy has twice the relative importance compared to design.
You’re probably wondering if this result holds up across different industries. There’s gotta be some industries where design is more important to the audience, right?
Nope. Doesn’t look like it.
Check this out: We split our pages into 16 different industries and plotted the results. The chart above shows the importance of copy to the overall model prediction. We can see that the median never dips under 65-70%. This confirms that, across all industries, copy has twice the relative influence to convert over design (which ranks at 30-35%).
Wanna brush up on your digital marketing skills? Get essential tips, strategies, and insights for copy, design, and more with these handy resources:
Expanding This Research with Smart Builder
We analyzed our data using a total image of the page, not by looking at each attribute. We believe it’d be interesting to investigate design further—based on each visual element—to provide you with more specific design insights. The good news is that now that we’ve launched Smart Builder, we’ll soon be able to do just that.
New data gathered through Smart Builder will let us tell you what aspects of your page design resonate with each of your traffic segments, letting you optimize for specific audiences. Then you’ll be able to create new variants based on these insights and turn on Smart Traffic to maximize conversion potential for each visitor. Pretty neat, huh?
That’s conversion intelligence at work. Not only does Smart Builder allow you to create the perfect page and section components based on your industry, audience, and campaign goals in just a few minutes, but it also provides AI insights and recommendations to help you launch higher-converting landing pages.
Remember: Design Matters, but Copy is Key
Let’s loop back to the original question: How much attention should you give design and copy when you build landing pages?
Our analysis clearly shows design isn’t the main driver for page performance, but we’re not saying design doesn’t matter. A great lookin’ page will still improve your conversion rate—just probably not as much as you might think. If design is something you struggle with, try creating a page with Smart Builder and let our dynamic layouts do the hard work for you.
If you really want to boost your conversions, we recommend focusing on perfecting your copy to capture the audience you’re targeting.
“But Unbounce, I hate writing copy.” Hey, we hear ya. Smart Copy (our new AI-powered content generator) can give you a bunch of high-converting suggestions based on your industry and the type of content you need. Then take it a step further by incorporating a few copy changes in your landing page variants and letting Smart Traffic direct your customers to the one where they’ll be most likely to convert.