Digital Marketing, AB-Testing

Formstack Makes AB Testing Idiot-Proof, Even for Me

AB testing has historically been a bit confusing and mystical, like Professor Snape combined with an Excel spreadsheet.

But now, almost anyone can get involved in AB testing of landing pages, thanks to a new version of Formstack. (read on and you can win a free account, and everyone reading Convince & Convert gets a free trial and 10% off a subscription if you use the promo code ConvinceConvert11)

A Convince & Convert sponsor, Formstack gave me a trial account to see if I could create an AB testing program without any hand-holding whatsoever. In truth, I didn’t even read the manual or the help docs, because I figure you won’t either. Might as well test it for real, right? Well, it may not win any Webby awards, but my landing page design foray was a success.

The Landing Pages Assignment

I needed to make a landing page design for Right This Minute, a forthcoming nationally syndicated TV show with 24×7 companion website. Right This Minute (a client) is looking for interesting and popular video bloggers to contribute to the TV show – and what video blogger wouldn’t want to be on national TV? (they also need a Phoenix-based Community Manager)

I have some ideas of video bloggers I’d like to see on Right This Minute, including Dan Dunn on booze, Lisa Beres on green living, and Baratunde Thurston on politics.

But I don’t know everyone in the video blogger world – far from it. So, I want to crowdsource some blogger recommendations, and needed to build a landing page design to capture those suggestions. (please submit your ideas here)

ab testing

AB testing via Formstack – Layout selection

Landing Page Design – Voila!

I set up an account in Formstack, and created my first landing page. Since I really had no idea what I was doing, determining my overall layout was the first hurdle. Formstack provides 8 options, and while you can change it later if you like, it’s helpful to have some sense of what you want in advance. Have a pencil sketch before you start.

Landing Page Design

Landing Page Design via Formstack – design interface

The landing page design builder itself is the second screen you encounter, and is the beating heart of the application. It’s fully drag-and-drop and WYSIWYG, allowing you to add content, tweak it, move it around, etc. quickly and easily. You can change fonts, colors, styles, alignments, and other page elements. If you want to get crazy, you can add your own stylesheets.

It is important to note, however, that despite offering a very easy way to do landing page design, Formstack is not drop-dead simple. If you have never created a blog post in WordPress, or used Web-based software in any way, you’ll still be able to get the hang of it, but you’ll have to think about it a bit. But, if you have even a modicum of experience with Web formatting, this will be a breeze.

Pricing starts at $19 per month, which includes form hosting and technical support. You get a free trial for being a Convince & Convert reader. See below for details.

Because I was collecting data in my landing page, I inserted a Formstack form into the landing page. Formstack has an equally easy-to-use form building tool that’s perhaps even more amazing, because of the array of form options, routing, thank you messages, email integrations, and other stuff it can do. Essentially, the Formstack forms can do everything custom-built forms can do, but you can build them yourself in about 10 minutes.

The data gets stored in an easy-to-use database, and you can use conditional routing too. So if someone fills out your form and clicks the “urgent, I want to give you money now” button (your text may vary), you can auto-route via email the contents of that form to your best salesperson.

The forms product is sold separately, and ranges from $14/month. Great for contest entries, too.

Easy AB Testing

The newest version of Formstack includes the ability to easily handle AB testing of your landing pages.

Wisely, they included a “duplicate” feature, so you can take an existing landing page, copy it, make a few changes, and publish the new one. Then, you are given a small piece of code to insert into the thank you page that appears after your conversion event (in my case, a form submission). You can – as I did – use the default Formstack thank you page, making it even easier.

The software automatically rotates the two versions, and tracks which one is performing best in the AB test, via a simple tracking interface. Nice!

In my test, I changed the color of the sidebar, the headline, and the arrow. Note that you can’t presently AB test the forms themselves, so you’ll have to use the same form on both pages – as I did – or create a new form (no “duplicate” feature yet).

There’s a couple of slightly confusing points when you’re finalizing and publishing your pages, where perhaps some better explanatory copy would be useful. But considering the AB testing feature just rolled out this week, this new capability in Formstack is remarkably easy-to-use and stable.

My Landing Page Designs

They aren’t amazing, but I made these landing pages and forms in Formstack for the very first time in under 60 minutes, without reading any support materials. Now that I’ve done it once, I’m sure I could do it in 30 minutes or less, and using the Formstack WordPress plug-in I’m looking forward to doing more with it here on the blog.

AB Testing via Formstack - the results

AB Testing via Formstack – the results

For more on Formstack and how it works, check out this video:

You Mentioned Prizes?

Indeed I did. Just leave a comment on this post about a landing page you like and why (include the URL), and we’ll give free, 12-month accounts to comments we really like.

And everyone receives a free trial of Formstack and 10% off a subscription if you use promo code ConvinceConvert11. New customers only, and only on the landing pages product.

Facebook Comments


  1. justinbrooke says

    Hmm… Why Formstack over unbounce

    Looks like they are both quite similar but Unbounce has more experience, features, and integrations. I highly respect your opinion which is why I ask why you chose one over the other.

  2. ShellyKramer says

    I’m an AB testing freak, Jay, and loved reading about Formstack. Even more importantly, I’d love to try it out so that I can potentially recommend it to my clients. Frankly, I can’t think of a better reason to give me a free 12-month account. That and, of course, because I have a big mouth and, like you, love to tell everyone about products I like.



  3. JoshuaDavis says

    Thanks Jay. A good read. I am willing to give them a try. Like @justinbrooke I think unbounce is a great product. Truly one of the most intuitive I have found. Based on the example page you posted, I think you could create something 5 times better with Unbounce in the same amount of time. And that is with the same situation, no manual, just diving into it. Either way, I really appreciate your writing.

  4. says

    I figure if someone as brilliant, beautiful and successful as @ShellyKramer can stoop to begging for a 12-month free trial of formstack… then why on earth should some poor schmuck like me to be too proud to do the same?

    I too would love to take Formstack for a spin with some clients and am particularly intrigued by its integration with the likes of Mailchimp, Freshbooks, Salesforce, WordPress, Twitter, and others.

    • ShellyKramer says

      @JonAston Oh crap … stalk me on the Interwebz then try and one up me. We are so over, Aston. O.V.E.R.

  5. SemesterAtSea says

    Well, I actually have a little different take on this. I’m the director of brand strategy and integrated media for a global study abroad organization called Semester at Sea. What better purpose could there be for awesome landing pages than to help hundreds of college students each year become global citizens and have their eyes opened to the possibility within each of them to help create change?

  6. letstalkandchat says

    If you’re looking for webinar software, then check out Evergreen Business System. Its perfect for marketers and let’s you automate the scheduling of your webinars, build your list, and even follow up with your webinar registrants. If you’re going to buy Evergreen Business System, then you might as well get a free bonus! So check out and you’ll get a great bonus that tells you how to create a webinar, what is a webinar, and a blueprint for making a successful one. None of the other people offering bonuses are offering this. Hurry in case the guy (some dude that worked on Lord of the RIngs) offering the bonus decides to pull it down.

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