How a “Boring” Background Boosted Opt-ins By 34% in This Split Test

“Flat-out boring.”

That’s how the creator of this split test — LeadPages user, Bruce Hill — described the background of the winning landing page you’ll see below.

When I spoke to Bruce, he said that of these two pages, the winner was a bit surprising exactly for that reason.

A little background: Bruce deployed this split test on his affiliate’s domain and most of the traffic to this page came from Facebook advertising.

Bruce’s split test ran for just over a month and attracted approximately 1000 visitors. Both pages in this split test netted conversion rates over 20%. However, the winning page still boosted response by 34% over the losing page.

Check out the two pages below and let’s explore what happened.

Original - Blurred Photo: Using the Basic Squeeze Page template from LeadPages, Bruce chose a blurred photo to direct the reader’s eye towards his opt-in.
Original – Blurred Photo: Using the Basic Squeeze Page template from LeadPages, Bruce chose a blurred photo to direct the reader’s eye towards his opt-in.
Winning Variation - Crumpled Paper: In this variation, Bruce used the same Basic Squeeze Page and nearly the same copy, but he changed the background image.
Winning Variation – Crumpled Paper: In this variation, Bruce used the same Basic Squeeze Page and nearly the same copy, but he changed the background image.

Bruce’s Results

The winner by an decisive 34% margin was the paper background.

Although the blurred photo converted 20.10% of visitors, the paper background pulled in an even higher 26.94%.

After running the numbers, Bruce’s result was confirmed at a 96.52% probability level.

In split testing, conclusions must be confirmed at a minimum of 90% in order to be considered statistically significant. A result with over 95%, as we see here, is strong evidence that Bruce’s variation outperformed the original.

Now for every 100 visitors to this LeadPage, Bruce can expect to see seven more conversions when using the paper background over the blurred photo.

Take a look at Bruce’s full results below:

How Bruce saw his split test results. As usual, the conversion-to-visitors to becomes a conversion rate, compared for a percentage change and statistical significance.
As you can see, the crumpled paper variation won out in this spilt test with a 96.52% certainty of beating the original blurred photo variation.

What Your Audience Wants

So as we saw, the crumpled paper photo significantly improved conversions despite its admittedly less exciting appearance. Let’s hear how Bruce himself interpreted the results:

“Simplicity often outperforms because it focuses the reader’s attention on the message. Other times, the image resonates so well the message is really secondary.

“Sometimes I think I have a killer image that’s going to resonate with the audience, and the generic image outperforms. In this case, the [blurred photo] background image may have been a bit too busy and distracted from the message.

“We like to think we know exactly what our audience wants, but the only way to truly know is run a test and trust the stats.”

Like all of us, Bruce has developed a sense for what works, but sometimes those can still be proven wrong through split testing.

Let’s keep this discussion going: Do you agree with Bruce’s assessment of his results — a more exciting image can distract users? Why do you think the crumpled paper version bested the blurry photo in today’s test?

Let me know in the comments below.

Now It’s Your Turn

LeadPages makes it easy to run a split test like Bruce’s in a matter of minutes. We offer dozens of built-in templates, one-click editing and intuitive controls over your data right at your fingertips.

Here Bruce tested how a new background would affect his results, but it’s just as easy to test how a change in the headline copy, button color, body copy or a new template would make a difference in conversions.

Watch the one-and-a-half minute video below for an introduction into enabling split testing on your LeadPages account.

Before we wrap up, I’d like to say thank you again to Bruce Hill for sharing his results. I hope it gave you some useful ideas when you go to run your own split tests.

Feel free to share why you think the crumpled paper design won — I look forward to reading the responses.

  • CoachKaterina

    When you do the optin on the ‘top 5 this and that’ lead magnet page- how do you get their email address and then right away offer them a trip wire? When the pop up form is shown, the person puts in their email address- are they added to the a weber list before the sandwich page shows up? I have the sandwich page set up for the trip wire and then I will do the core offer as is shown in your webinars through the 3 video tutorials that get delivered to their email.

    • Tom Johnson

      Great questions. It sounds like you’re already a LeadPages customer. If that’s the case, our support team (who can do a much better job of answering your questions than I) would be happy to help. Just submit a ticket to and they’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

      • CoachKaterina

        Thanks. Yes I am a lead Pages customer so I will put in a support ticket thank you.

  • I know the title of this says the “boring” background wins, but I suspect that the “blurred” image is unnerving to many because of the “uncanny valley” – the idea that if, in this case, facial features look close, but not exactly human, then it causes a response of revulsion in some observers. In short, repulsive kills deals.

    • Tom Johnson

      That’s a great observation. Especially if visitors aren’t spending a lot of time on a page, gut reactions can be very important. I’d be curious to see how well that particular LeadPage would perform if the photo were un-blurred. It might avoid the uncanny valley, but to Bruce’s point, would it still be “too busy” to beat the crumpled paper?

  • The “boring” image isn’t really that boring, in fact it kind of has a personal feel to it, like somebody wrote these tips down by hand and the viewer has just discovered something that was previously lost.
    On the other hand, the original image is very confusing with the blurred image and the inherent direction of the image is actually pulling the eyes and the viewer outward, not inward to the opt-in box imo. Neither image has anything to do with being a marketing manager, but it doesn’t surprise me that a simpler image is usually better and less likely to turn someone off rather than a hyped up blurred image.

    • Tom Johnson

      I think you’re right about the feel of movement on the original blurred image. Similar to what @ronlancaster:disqus pointed out, it could just be that visitors were unsure of what they were looking at or where their eyes should be moving.

      I’ll ask around about what our “absolute most boring” background is. I’m sure we have a timelapse of paint drying or post office waiting line somewhere in the archives. Then we can really boil down this boring vs. exciting question.

      • The movement is a great point. And not to belabor this, but the transparent background of the box makes the text more difficult to read; you don’t want people to work hard to hear you.

        • Tom Johnson

          I think that’s spot on. Even the best message ever won’t have an impact if visitors can’t read it.

      • I so want to see a timelapse of paint drying background beat something. So badly. Other options: a doctor’s office waiting room background, a background that plays “The English Patient” on a loop, and a background of someone showing you their baby pictures.

  • In the blurred picture I am personally looking at the face instead… the paper is just white and my eyes are directly landing on the form text.

    Oh by the way, I have optimized the brian-moran-facebook-template and would like to send it… where can I send it to?

    • Tom Johnson

      I think that’s right, and getting eyes directly on the text form is exactly what Bruce was aiming for.

      Re: your question, If you’re a pro LeadPages customer, you can upload your custom Brain-Moran-Facebook template into your LeadPages account. Our support team can help you out at if you have any further questions.

      • No, I am not a customer… I am frontend developer and made some optimizing regarding combining/minifying, using jpg instead of png, etc.