A/B split test: cartoons vs photos

For the past 2 years, our Movie Collector product page has shown a picture of me standing in front of my own DVD collection. Similarly, the Book Collector home had a picture of my wife Sytske and her book collection.

But then we had nice cartoon characters created, mainly for use in advertising material. Being happy with the results, we thought: let’s use these characters on our product home pages too. It would improve the “after-ad-click” recognition of the visuals and of course, it just looked nice.

So we replaced the photos with the cartoon characters, without split-testing.

Recently, while staring at our website, I started wondering: was this really a good idea? The cartoons may look nice but do they really work better than the photos?

So I finally did the A/B split-test: Cartoons (A) vs Photos (B).

Version A – Cartoon characters:

Here’s what our Movie- and Book Collector pages look like with the “CLZ Babes”:
Pros: it looks nice and creates a strong connection between our banner visuals, the landing page and the software itself (where the CLZ babes are also used, e.g. in the splash screen).

Version B – Photos of me and Sytske:

These are the same product pages with the collection photos of my wife and me:
Pros: recognizable image for collector-types, builds trust because it shows the company owners are collectors too.

The results

Well, I was glad I finally came to my senses and did run the A/B split test after all.
Because these are the results after 7 days (about 1,500 sign-ups and 300 sales):

Compared to version A (cartoons), version B (photos) generated:

  • Sign Ups: 5.1% more
  • Sales: 35.3% more
  • Average Purchase: 15.6% higher
  • Total Profits: 53.9% higher

Is that scary or what? Needless to say, I am back to using photos on my landing pages.
But the more important lesson here is:
never make big changes to your website without split testing.

2 thoughts on “A/B split test: cartoons vs photos

  1. he-he, almost every change I made to increase the conversion actually decreases it according to Google Website Optimizer 🙂 More than a half of changes were reverted back to the original.

    Thanks for sharing the results!

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