December 11, 2013

Test Idea: Test Holiday Season Hero Messaging

As the clock counts down to Christmas, test new hero messages to see what combination of copy, length, and design generates more clicks, purchases, and engagement.

a person with curly hair

Robin Johnson

If you’re reading this, you’re in the minority. Only 1 in 5 site visitors will read the body of a webpage – 80% will read the headline. That’s how powerful a headline is. For online retailers, the hero message is the headline.

Hero messages garner a lot of attention—even more so during December, as more shoppers head to your site for last minute gifts and deals. Hero messages are a great place to run quick and simple tests to see which ones increase sales. With so many eyeballs on your homepage this month, you can quickly determine which message performs best and keep it as a default for a majority of site visitors… while still testing tweaks and other options on smaller amounts of traffic.

Test new hero messages to see what combination of copy, length, and design generates more clicks, purchases, and engagement.

Test message copy and framing

Try changing the way you position products, deals, and other seasonal offerings to see how framing each message affects conversions.

Test messages that emphasize benefits (like promotions, sales, or shipping deals)…


versus those that emphasize loss.


Test questions.


Use A/B testing tools to experiment with actionable wording…


versus passive.


Are shoppers more engaged by creative, quirky copy or something more straightforward? Test multiple options to find out what resonates best with visitors on your site. (This article has some great tips for crafting perfect headlines to get you started.)

Test length

Find out if shoppers prefer shorter quips or longer descriptions from the hero message on your site.

Pro-tip: 60-100 characters tend to perform best.

Test the design

Changing the font, size, spacing, orientation, and color of your headline text could have a surprising impact on conversions. Test spacing between your headline and other calls-to-action on your homepage as well.

Personalized headlines

For many online shoppers, it may take more than one visit to your site to ultimately make a purchase. Use your testing tool to target different message to new versus returning visitors. Convince returning visitors to make that purchase they’ve been thinking about and attract new visitors with a compelling offer or statement.

Try targeting messages to specific geographic locations to promote specific shipping or promotional offers to customers coming different states, regions, or countries.

Or take it one step further. Use the first party data already available about visitors—thanks to tools like BlueKai— to serve up personalized homepage messages and images for shoppers based their demographic segments. A personalized homepage could feature women’s sweaters for female shoppers in North Dakota and men’s bathing suits for male shoppers in Florida.

Experiment with these ideas or try some of your own (if you’ve got some good ones, share them in the comments below!).

With 12 online shopping days left, hero message optimization is a quick, powerful way to generate last minute conversions from last minute shoppers.

More test ideas for e-commerce sites:

Test ideas for your mobile website

Add a tweet button to the order success page

Test different product image themes

A/B test everything about your call to action buttons

Question the assumption that security badges increase conversions

Experiment with how you engage your social media following

Test emphasizing return policy on product pages

Add a countdown clock to your site

Test interest in a new product with a dummy button and clicks

Try adding badges to product image thumbnails

Test default sort order on category pages

71 other things to test