Marketers Need an Easier Way to Optimize Landing Pages [Introducing Smart Traffic™]

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Want to capture more conversions with your landing pages? (Silly question, right?)

The received wisdom is that you should A/B test and optimize until you’re converting as many visitors as possible. For years, you’ve been told by industry leaders (and, yes, by Unbounce) that A/B testing is essential to your digital marketing practice

And why not? There’s plenty of evidence that shows A/B testing works by letting you squeeze more conversions from your existing assets. Brilliant.

But if you’re on a small marketing team—heck, you just might be that proverbial “I” in a team of one—then running tests also demands time, high volumes of traffic, or CRO expertise that you might not have.

For some marketers, a typical landing page converting at 5% might see 50 visitors a day. To see a lift of 20% to your conversion rate in these circumstances, you’d have to run an A/B test for 304 days (to reach 95% significance, according to our A/B test duration calculator). Waiting for almost a year for a test is not viable, especially since these tests don’t always produce useable insights.

Plus, what happens while you wait for the results to roll in? Your time-sensitive campaigns (like that big Black Friday sale) begin to wither on the vine before you can optimize them. Your offers can expire. And you’re potentially delaying decisions you could make about updates to your positioning until you crown a winner.  

It’s something of an open secret that, for marketers with limited resources, the experience of A/B testing can be disappointment and frustration. Like cardio, it’s something you know you should be doing on the regular—people keep telling you that you should be doing it—but the reality is that you’ve got too much to do already. 

Can anyone blame you for accepting a certain flabbiness to your landing pages? (Not when the current, most standard way to optimize can be so complex, no.)

Despite all the hard work it requires, the truth is that…

A/B testing isn’t your only option.

At Unbounce, we’ve been advocating for A/B testing for a long time. (For as long as there’s been an Unbounce.)

It was easy to obsess because it works: marketers who optimize landing pages in this way see significant lifts in their conversion rates. They’re able to experiment with different layouts, offers, and content to find the most effective approach for their visitors. 

Today, we still stand behind A/B testing as a great tool for confirming an informed hypothesis. It totally works when you’ve got the traffic volumes and expertise to interpret your results properly. But we’d be remiss not to address the fact that plenty of marketers have felt left behind by the A/B testing revolution.

Even its devotees will admit that A/B testing isn’t perfect. 

For all its good, A/B testing has a fatal flaw.

As we explored new ways to help you convert more, Unbounce kept running up into the limitations of A/B testing. Even if your business gets boatloads of traffic and can sustain long test durations, optimizing with A/B testing helps you serve up a single landing page that appeals to as many visitors as possible. 

By trying to create a champion landing page that tries to target most people, you’re actually just targeting the average person. That means that you end up not converting to your potential.

This “one-size-fits-all” approach to optimizing means you’re letting potential customers slip right through your net: the people who’d never convert on your so-called champion.

You know your customers aren’t all the same. They come from different places, use different devices, have different motivations, respond to different offers, etc. So why send them all to the same page?

An illustration of A/B testing

No matter how easy Unbounce makes it for you to A/B test, optimizing only works under the right circumstances and with the right goals. 


So let’s recap. If we’re being real, A/B testing can let you down in three big ways:  

  • It’s very complex. If A/B testing inspires imposter syndrome in you, you’re not alone. While 95% of marketers recognize A/B testing has value for their business, 42% think it’s too difficult. From the initial hypothesis, what to test, isolating just one item to test, calculating the duration of time you need, and interpreting results, it’s no joke and definitely not for everybody.
  • It can devour your time and demands tons of traffic. It’s the small and medium businesses—ironically, marketers who need to move faster and smarter than the big guys—who tend to hit this obstacle hardest. If you’re a David looking to topple a Goliath, you’ve got other things on your mind.
  • It leads to “optimized” pages that aren’t actually optimized for each and every visitor. Sure, you can personalize in other ways—even manually—but that just leads to more headaches as you further split the crucial traffic that you need to run A/B tests. 

If you’ve been vigorously nodding your head as you read along, it probably feels easy to shrug your shoulders and accept that conversion optimization isn’t right for you. As a small biz, you may feel like you’ll never have the time, the traffic, the expertise, or the resources to make it happen.

But… 

What if Unbounce taught a machine to optimize your landing pages for you?

Today, we’re proud to bring you Smart Traffic™, a proprietary landing page optimization tool built on machine learning. 

Powered by AI, Smart Traffic automatically optimizes your landing pages by sending each and every visitor to a page variant where they’re most likely to convert. It avoids the problem of optimizing for the average visitor with a “one-size-fits-all” champion.

It’s also dead-simple to use. And it starts optimizing quickly, after as few as 50 visits, without the need to babysit or manually apply your learnings. 

Best of all, customers in our beta saw an average 20% lift in conversions compared to an A/B test. (We don’t call it an easy button, but it’s an easy button.)

Here’s how it works:

1. You create landing page variants.

You’re not constrained to just one change at a time—or just one variant—so get creative. Just want to make a small tweak? Do it. Looking to get wild? Heck yeah. Your team can’t decide between two options? Why not both? You can even add new variants at any time—which is perfect for people who’s best ideas come to them in the shower, or in traffic, or during the duller moments of Thanksgiving dinner.

Screenshot of creating landing page variants

2. Set a conversion goal, then turn on Smart Traffic.

Make sure your variants have a conversion goal so that the tool understands your desired outcome. Then just publish (or, if you’re adding Smart Traffic to an existing campaign, republish) your landing page. Our machine will immediately begin a short learning phase where it explores the possibilities.

Screenshot of turning on Smart Traffic

3. Smart Traffic optimizes automatically.

Here’s the best part: you’re done.

You’ll start to see better conversion rates once Smart Traffic starts applying its learnings about your visitors. With the magic of machine learning, the tool will also continue to adapt and improve over time. This way, it better understands where visitors will convert—even if your traffic sources change. In other words, you’ll see a lift in your conversions, no further actions required. This thing’s pretty clever.

Oh, and it’s available to Unbounce customers right now—as you read this very sentence. So if you want to quit reading and go flip that switch, I wouldn’t blame you. 

For CRO aficionados or those who already have the benefit of tons of traffic, Smart Traffic has potential as a hands-free way of setting up your already optimized campaigns for progressive, long-term improvements. By using Smart Traffic alongside classic A/B tests, you can see the benefits of both worlds. (We’re very excited to see what the experts can do with it.)

But for small yet scrappy marketing teams—or really anyone tight on time and resources—Smart Traffic is a freakin’ game changer because it lets you optimize your pages without the stresses associated with A/B testing. 

Create your variants. Turn it on. See results. 

Speed up your time to results. If you build landing pages with Unbounce, you can start using AI-powered Smart Traffic today to optimize for better visitor experiences and more conversions. Find out more about how Smart Traffic helps marketers reach their conversion potential.

A Smarter Way to Optimize

Everything you’ve just read is all you need to know to get started. For the curious, though, let’s go into a little more detail about how Smart Traffic makes optimizing your landing pages easy.

Smart Traffic knocks down the barriers to entry.

As Carl Schmidt, CTO and co-founder of Unbounce, describes it, “Smart Traffic is the first step on our journey towards turning the tides for small businesses by enabling [you] to achieve unprecedented results using the power of AI.”

You don’t need an unrealistic amount of visitors to start seeing results. (It definitely won’t take 305 days.) But there’s also another time gain worth noting. Because, unlike traditional A/B testing, there’s no lengthy exploration phase in which you’re sending 50% of your traffic to the eventual loser (potentially missing out on yet more conversions). 

By design, A/B testing splits all your visitors randomly between multiple variants.

With Smart Traffic you’re off to the races and optimizing (almost) right away. Compare it to traditional A/B testing, and the difference becomes very clear:

Comparison of A/B testing, Multi-Armed Bandit testing, and Smart Traffic

On the left, you see the explore/exploit pattern of a typical A/B test. Protracted periods of random testing are required before each learning can be confidently applied via manual intervention. (And there’s no guarantee any given A/B test will produce significant results.) 

On the far right, you can see how Smart Traffic uses machine learning to conduct continuous (contextual multi-armed bandit) optimizing for you. It begins applying its learnings to your conversion rates with a sample as small as 50 visitors, so you can boost your conversion rates on campaigns of all sizes. Every subsequent visit represents another chance to learn and optimize.

You’ll see better results than an A/B test in less time and with less work. Some beta testers saw incredible gains with little time or effort when they applied it to existing pages.

The fact we got 10% more conversions without doing any work is a big deal. You can’t ignore that.

Kyle Carline, Brand Manager at Salem Web Network


Smart Traffic matches visitors with the variant most likely to convert.

Instead of optimizing for the average person, Smart Traffic starts matching each and every visitor to the landing page variant that’s right for them, based on the unique attributes that set them apart from the crowd. 

An illustration of Smart Traffic

You win more conversions because the experience will be more relevant. So Sally from Brooklyn and Peter from Kansas City will each see the landing page that right for them—instead of one “champion” page that appeals to the masses. There’s no guarantee they’ll convert, but Smart Traffic gives you the best possible chance of converting as individuals.


Finally, Smart Traffic frees you to do great marketing.

It took a team of data scientists—including a literal string theorist—and three years of research, but Smart Traffic’s patent-pending machine learning algorithm puts the complexity back where it belongs: behind the scenes. It’s all kinds of automagical that way. By crunching data and dynamically matching visitors to variants, it’s doing something that no human being could.

But Smart Traffic has value beyond the technology: it frees you to do things that machine learning algorithms simply can’t. It frees you to engage with the human part of marketing—the better part of marketing, I’d say—like creating innovative campaigns and strategy, smarter and more engaging content, and more compelling visitor experiences. 

So go ahead and leave the complex stuff to us.

Photo of Carl Schmidt at CTAConf
Carl Schmidt (Unbounce Co-Founder & CTO) points out the creative drawbacks of A/B testing at this year’s Call To Action Conference.

The World’s First AI-Powered Landing Page Product

It’s easy to get over-hyped when it comes to AI and machine learning, but that’s not why we’re so proud to bring Smart Traffic to you today.

You see, Unbounce was founded on the idea of helping businesses of all sizes achieve better marketing. We strongly believe that insights and actions drawn from data will be the key.   

The goal behind introducing machine learning into our product is to enhance your capabilities as a marketer.

You may not have time to learn the nuances of A/B testing. You may not currently see the traffic volume you need to split test successfully.  And you may have a hundred other things on your plate.

But now, you too can optimize. (And really, you should optimize.)

By reducing manual hassles involved with optimizing, AI helps you deliver better, more relevant experiences, connect with your customers in personal ways, and—yep—score more conversions. (I’d love to teach the machine 🤖 to bring me my coffee in the morning, but the team assures me they have bigger, better plans.)

Just in case you were wondering, we’re just gettin’ started. 

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