10 Landing Pages Critiqued for Copywriting Excellence. You Pick the Winner.

UPDATE: The voting is now closed – thanks for your participation! Congrats to Brian Lenney for winning his way to the Call to Action Conference in Vancouver in September, and to our runners-up Michaela Stalnaker and Shana Haynie who will be receiving tickets to the Conversion Road Trip.

Just a few weeks ago, we tasked copywriters of all stripes with a simple mission:

“Write some copy about this robot vacuum that plays music.”

unnamed1-249x250More specifically, we tasked them with writing a great landing page for people to sign up to hear more about DJ Rumba in the lead-up to its (completely fictional) release.

We reviewed every single entry, looking for pages that were not only well-written, but smartly used each piece of copy to support the goal of the campaign and push the visitor towards completing the call to action: submitting their email address.

We then selected the 10 finest examples to be critiqued by our panel of expert copywriters; you’ll find commentary from Joanna Wiebe from Copy Hackers, Demian Farnworth from Copyblogger, Henneke Duistermaat from Enchanted, and others below.

We need you to vote for the winner

Now the fate of the 10 finalists is in your hands – or, more accurately, whichever finger you use to click things.

Cast your vote for the landing page you’d choose to anchor the DJ Rumba launch campaign. You can vote for as many pages as you’d like, but you can only vote once per page.

The copywriter behind the page that has the most votes by May 18th will be on their way to the Call to Action Conference in Vancouver in September, with two runners-up receiving tickets to the Conversion Road Trip city of their choice next month.

Happy voting!

1. Brian Lenney

Brian Lenney
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Judges’ comments

The headline is too clever but it got my attention and made me read the first paragraph. Good test option. That said, know when to quit: cut the paragraph after “Meet DJ Rumba.”

The offer is unclear and introduces anxiety and distrust – how will you ship with only my email address?

Good voice – funny, and could work for an audience that wants a singing vacuum. (BTW: 30 second rule? I thought it was 5 seconds!)

The Swanson testimonial nails it. The headline, not so much.

You are assuming too much: perhaps the target market does like to dance naked. But who is that?

I feel like the language defines who the target market is (someone who uses the word “crib”), but then I question if these same people could afford DJ Rumba. Or if their roommates or parents would appreciate dancing naked in the crib even if they could.

2. Andrew Morris

Andrew Morris
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Judges’ comments

The headline is clever without being confusing. It grabs my attention and makes me want to read on, meaning it does its job.

The CTA button copy, on the other hand, is a turn-off. Save my place for what? It doesn’t tell me what I’m going to get and there’s no consistency with the headline or sub-head.

The “benefits” copy is vague. What am I chilling, choosing and cheering? Don’t make me connect the dots. I also think it’s weird that the benefits focus on music instead of cleaning. Is my biggest pain point when vacuuming carrying around a boombox? Is Space Jam currently in theatres? I don’t think so.

The sub-heading is pretty good – it explains the DJ Rumba in clear language.

The button copy, however, is weak – what does “save my place” mean?

I’d also like to see a stronger reason for signing up (and change the “we” focus to “you” focus). The three feature boxes could more clearly explain both features and benefits. I still don’t quite understand how DJ Rumba works.

3. Shana Haynie

Shana Haynie
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Judges’ comments

The headline and sub-headline are weak – too many words, too little clarity and too much attempt at hipster punch.

The opt-in text reminds me that I can’t have this now… disappointing and not compelling.

The three boxes of content are weak on features/advantages and lacking in benefits. It seems the only reason I’d want this is to dance, and I’d need more reasons to care about the device.

The headline lacks clarity. I’d consider reworking the last two sentences in the first paragraph into the headline and sub-head. Those are great lines that tell me what I’m looking at and address a possible pain point.

Make the three benefits standout with value added sub-heads. “It’s fun!” doesn’t tell me anything.

The rest of the copy is terrific.

4. Michaela Stalnaker

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Judges’ comments

I think the second paragraph is fine. The headline is what causes some issues. “Literally” is very ambiguous. Something a bit more direct would help a great deal: “Your music sucks – and that’s a good thing” would be more my speed.

If you do that, then the second paragraph makes a lot more sense and ties it together. And put features further up the page. They’ll sell me!

The headline catches my attention but there is no punch line. The second paragraph falls flat.

Not sure what problem the device solves for me – my bad taste in music? Why can’t you explain what the product is?

Not interested in opting in, the fake enthusiasm is a true boner killer.

The three benefits below the fold are decent, but it’s too late.

5. Jenn DiMaria

Jenn DiMaria
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Judges’ comments

Took me two readings to “get” the headline, which fails the clarity over clever test.

Lede copy hits the pain points of post-party cleanup and ties the USP of the device into the solution. Not bad.

I wouldn’t use an opt-in for a video view – not enough of a value proposition. Display the video on the page and craft a more compelling CTA for get the opt-in related to hosting a Rhumba party.

Testimonials are off the mark in content.

The fact that it’s coming soon made me less interested right away.

The intro paragraph was a bit long and too specific to appeal to a broad audience.

The event reference again removed clarity – as did the funny yet unhelpful cat video benefit.

The list of integrations was smart but could have benefited from more visual emphasis on Spotify and Pandora.

Entertaining testimonials.

6. Brian Sun

Brian Sun
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Judges’ comments

What’s the offer?!

The headline starts well but fails at “cut a rug” – too clever!

The hero copy sounds like the writer’s not sure what’s desirable about DJ Rumba. What one thing will improve in my life when I sign up? Why am I signing up? What could prevent me from signing up?

“Are you ready to Rumba?” = no; replace with what I get when I sign up.

Testimonials are flat. Redo.

The headline is cute, though I’m not sure most folks under 70 will be familiar with the expression “cut a rug.” I bet this page would kill will the “jitterbug” generation!

The sub-head is a bit wordy, but does a good job explaining what DJ Rumba is and does so in a fun way.

I like “Are you ready to rumba?” as a way of transitioning into the ask but the button copy veers into “too clever” territory. Does filling out the form get me a vacuum? Cool music? Some boring newsletter? I’m not going to click if I don’t know what I’m getting.

The testimonials say the same thing in pretty much the same way and don’t address any of my concerns or questions. That’s a waste of copy.

7. Kendra Savich

Kendra Savich
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Judges’ comments

That’s an interesting headline. I want to say it works, but it’s really trying to accomplish too much. DJ Rumba is not going to sort the aluminum cans from the bottles, empty ash trays and rub out merlot stains. All it can really do is vacuum your carpets. But you don’t even know if it does that well. There is one mention, in the email sub-offer: we hear that it is “tough,” but what does tough mean? One testimonial mentions his carpets were pristine.

So the writer focuses on the music too much. As a potential customer, my questions are how good is the sound quality (one testimonial suggests they didn’t skimp on the sound technology… but what does that mean?) How good is the vacuum?

With these hanging questions, the CTA fails. Instead, how about an enticing cliffhanger?

The headline and sub-heading fail to explain what the DJ Rumba is.

The main call to action “Fun. Tough. Autonomous.” is weak, but I like the sub text, giving me several reasons to sign up to the notification list (if only I’d understood what the DJ Rumba is!).

The three feature boxes aren’t bad, but don’t give me a compelling argument. Needs more clarity what DJ Rumba offers.

8. Josh Garofalo

Josh Garofalo
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Judges’ comments

I like the shorter copy and whitespace. While the headline isn’t compelling, the sub-headline hints at what the device is.

Twerking isn’t appealing, and the target market is unclear. I dislike the slang (hilar, sippin’), but the three boxes of content below the opt-in tell me about features and possible advantages.

Benefits are lacking – why should I care about these features?

First, think carefully about the pronoun. Does “he” work for this audience? I’m honestly not sure.

Second, “‘lil” is too patronizing. I’d get rid of it – it’ll make the headline more direct and avoid conveying the wrong message.

Improve the call to action. What’s in it for me? I want to know when it’s available. So tell me that’s what you’ll do.

9. JP Vasellina

JP Vasellina
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Judges’ comments

I’d think about swapping the headline and sub-headline to make it obvious to the visitor what this thing is.

The microcopy on top of the CTA button is distracting and now puts the idea of spam in my head.

The benefit copy needs work. There are typos and it isn’t particularly compelling. I’d rework so the copy makes it clear how much better life will be by using this product.

This headline hits the mark a bit closer, and made me want to read the lede copy. Unfortunately, this copy is weak and too short to hold interest.

I wouldn’t use an opt-in for a video demonstration – not enough of a value proposition. Display the video on the page and craft a more compelling CTA for get the opt-in.

Testimonials here seem to work.

10. Sarah Davis

Sarah Davis
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Judges’ comments

Reading the copy on this page gave me a shit-eating grin from start to finish. Truly delightful copy.

The Q&A headline/sub-head kicked things off with humor and simplicity. The use of rhymes throughout tied in well with the theme, and the benefits clearly articulated why my life would be improved by using it. The free trial added a nice touch of persuasion.

The headline already loses me – I can think of 100 things better than jammin’ out.

Poor clarity: I don’t understand what the product is, it’s not really explained.

The benefit of the product is not explained well, very little is done to increase my motivation.

And I’m not interested in free trial before knowing how much it’s gonna cost down the line.

A huge thanks goes out to our judges and to everyone who submitted a landing page; it was hard to choose just ten!

Don’t be shy – we’d love to hear what you think about the finalists (and the contest itself) in the comments. May the best DJ Rumba copywriter win!

About Brad Tiller
Brad’s a former writer at Unbounce, with a marketing background encompassing everything from community management to lead generation. He's obsessed with the little touches that take marketing campaigns from so-so to stellar. Find him on Twitter: @bradtiller
» More blog posts by Brad Tiller


  1. Julia

    Congrats to the finalists – having your work critiqued by such respected copywriters is alone a win.

    These landing pages give me a good guess on my own mistakes with the contest submission. However, if I could have a tip or two from the Unbounce team regarding my entry it would be sooo helpful! http://unbouncepages.com/a69bf580-f11a-11e4-8878-22000a9a9c66/ I appreciate any comments from the unbounce.community too.

    Anyway, thank you for this opportunity, and good luck to the finalists!

    • Brad Tiller

      Hi Julia,

      Thanks for sharing your page here! We’re thinking of doing something with the entries who didn’t make it to the finals, but not sure yet. Stay tuned to the blog!

      • Kirk

        Hey Brad, good to hear. I also would love to receive a dose of humility for my failed contestant submission if you have time for critiquing: http://unbouncepages.com/dj-rumba-musically-mobile/

        (note, based upon the lack of vacuuming by DJ Rumba in Parks & Rec in and the fact that Rumba was spelled differently than the Roomba vacuum, I went with a random, totally new product and ditched the vacuum idea in my page)


  2. Josh Garofalo

    First, thank you so much for choosing me as one of the 10! Means a lot.

    I’d also like to clarify one thing.

    My landing page is focused on a particular demographic – young professional women. I got the fun language by listening to friends speak and hearing some of the words they use, often just for fun. I wrote my intent in the description but that obviously doesn’t get published. That’s my bad.

    I tested on my fiancee and she smiled/laughed and picked up on the fun words right away. She’s biased though.

    I definitely wouldn’t have used the same language or used the word “he” underlined in the headline for a general landing page/home page. :)

    I imagined the click through coming from an place like a wedding page or community for example. I know from experience that my target demographic is highly represented there.

    Thank you so much for the feedback – it means a lot coming from heavyweight copywriters like yourselves.


    • Brad Tiller

      Hey Josh, thanks a ton for your follow-up here. Really added a lot to your entry for me to hear about the research you did going into it. Good luck!

  3. Brian Lenney

    Oooooh these judges are on the ball, thanks for the feedback. I was shooting for one demographic only: Millennials who like Parks N Rec (the show). I appreciate you all taking the time to give us all a kick in the butt. And Joanna, with 4 kids, the 5-Second rule becomes the 30 second rule (at least in our kitchen) :)

  4. Shana Haynie

    Thanks for the feedback! Looks like I have a lot to work on. I had a blast working on this and I hope it comes through on the page. Having the chance to come up with so many puns really made my day. But seriously, a robot vacuum that plays music? Yes please.

    • Brad Tiller

      Unfortunately, the real DJ Rumba’s development fell apart in the focus group phase once we realized that people didn’t want to strap their $1000 phone to a vacuum that sometimes runs into walls.

      Congrats on making it to the finals, and best of luck!

  5. Michaela Stalnaker

    Thank you for the feedback. Such an honor to have any of these judges read my writing! I was hoping Peep would critique mine. Now I’m not sure—just kidding, man! Good luck to all.

  6. Brian Sun

    I’m #6. Super fun reading all of the entries…I’m ready to Rumba.

    • Brad Tiller

      “Are you ready to Rumba?” is definitely one of my favourite lines of any entry — kudos and best of luck!

  7. Dee

    Surprised to so many entries in top 10 with less-than-desirable comments from judges. What happened to my page?

    • Brad Tiller

      Hey Dee! CRO is tough business; just because these pages were selected as the finalists doesn’t mean they’re perfect, and we’re happy to provide valuable, constructive criticism over fluffy praise. That was part of the deal, after all!

      Did you submit a page? There were a ton of great submissions and some tough calls had to be made to select the top 10. If you’re looking for feedback, feel free to post it here!

      • Dee

        Sure, I submitted an entry and would love to hear feedback. Here it is http://unbouncepages.com/fa4c5ee0-f444-11e4-9b63-22000a9a9c66-22001/ . The entry had to be pushed in by one of your employees later because I never got a confirmation after signing up for the contest (before May 4), and the deadline had passed.

        • Brad Tiller

          Just to be clear, we did receive your submission and it was considered along with all of the other entries for progression to the finals.

          Regarding your page, there are immediate problems with the headline: “Clean floors sound like music to your ears? Well, now with DJ Rumba, literally!”

          Literally what? The statement drops off suddenly with no resolution. And clean floors typically don’t sound like -anything-. Even if the headline made sense, it still doesn’t do anything to clarify the value proposition of the product. The subhead doesn’t, either.

          In fact, at no point does your page clearly state what the product is (a vacuum cleaner that can dock your iPhone/iPod and play the music on it). Each section of copy hints at this, but it’s up to the reader to figure it out.

          There are also various typos, and many of the sentences just don’t sound right. In particular, the “Jane Smith” testimonial reads as something that no actual person would ever say.

          Copywriting is a surprisingly difficult craft to master, so keep at it! If you haven’t yet read our Conversion Marketer’s Guide to
          Landing Page Copywriting, I’d recommend checking it out. It was written by master Copy Hacker Joanna Wiebe herself, and contains some seriously invaluable advice.

  8. Dee

    Thanks! This has been a great learning experience.

  9. Lance Jones

    This is a fun post! I’m glad you drew the line at 10 finalists… any more and you would’ve lost me.

    I’m not sure about showing the numbers of votes. People want to be “right”, so you may be biasing them by revealing the numbers.

    This exercise proves that you MUST test. These judges have differing views of what’s good and what’s bad.

    That said, I feel like a few of these judges should take a crack at this exercise themselves. It’s easier to critique than to create. ;-)

    • Josh Garofalo

      Hey Lance, good point!

      I think a few things are a little wonky about these voting competitions when it comes to choosing a winner.

      1) The order of entries isn’t randomized. So, entries in the later spots only get seen by those who scroll all the way down.

      2) As you said, people want to be right.

      3) It’s easy to vote multiple times. It becomes an exercise in morality. Even an overly supportive supporter could tip the scales.

      That said, I’m guessing the goal at this stage isn’t the perfect competition but rather using the voting system as incentive to share. They’re probably alright with any of the 10 winning.

      This all coming from me, a contestant that is getting blown away by the competition. ;)

      Oh yeah, we totally should get some judges to do it. How about that Joanna person? :) I think her style would lend itself well to a crazy product like this.

      • Dan Levy

        Really appreciate the feedback, Lance and Josh. All great points. We’ve learned a ton from running this contest and I promise that next time will be even better.

        As for getting the judges to take a crack, that’s a very good idea…

        • Lance Jones

          Sure thing. Congrats on this excellent idea. I read 40 – 50 blog posts / articles per day, and this one was a really nice treat.

        • Lance Jones

          And THEN, instead of finding more judges to judge the judges, I’d be willing to chip in to run an Adwords campaign to find the real winner. Anyone else with me? ;-)

  10. Brian Lenney

    “boner killer,” ha! Touche sir.

  11. Cary Blackburn

    Headline writing is such an art and skill. I’ve spent 25 years in some form of marketing, first starting in newspaper advertising and moving to the web. The biggest mistake that advertisers made was not having a headline. So many would want their logo or business name to be the biggest part of the ad which is a huge mistake. Some would insist upon it even if we told them that need a headline to draw attention to the ad. It would seriously drive me nuts.

    The ten finalists here have all written great headlines, some better than others, but all are great. Congratulations to them all and it would be a great honor to be critiqued by the judges in this competition.

    And yes, not sure I know of any millennials who listen to the Black Eyed Peas. Wouldn’t the Culture Club be more relevant? ;)

    • Chad Degus

      Hey the Black Eyed Peas were popular when Millennial were in their late teens and early 20’s. Everyone listens to music from their youth bro!

      • Dan Levy

        I gotta feeling…that this post is gonna be a good post. That this post is gonna be a good good post.

    • Jenn DiMaria

      I usually send those advertisers to the Make My Logo Bigger Cream website and recommend ordering a side of Whitespace Eliminator Spray.

  12. Kenny

    Gotta go #1 and embrace dirty dancing (though not the horrible movie). Also liked “No more 30 second rule”.

    • Joe Reitz

      I, too, thought I had a clever headline regarding dirty dancing… but with the benefit of time and seeing the comments on a few of these posts, I can see where my page when wrong in a few key places.

      Rumor mill is that Unbounce is thinking of blogging about us losers? I would love the opportunity for constructive destruction ;)

  13. Kingi

    I’ve begun to think these tear-downs are unhelpful and lead to confusion more than clarity.

    • Brad Tiller

      Could you elaborate, Kingi? They can be harsh, for sure, but I think that the critiques posted above contain quite a lot of helpful, actionable advice — and it seems like the finalists themselves agree (thankfully)!

      • Dan Levy

        I can definitely see how it can be confusing when two experts disagree as much as Peep and Oli do on #10. But it all just goes to show that opinions (even well-informed ones) only go so far…ultimately you need to test and let the data decide!

  14. Joe Reitz

    Let’s be real for a sec… Unbounce just had a ton of people use their product, many for the first time, and most likely got hooked. I’m currently lamenting the standard landing page editor in Marketo… The contest is secondary to that fact.

    That said… Lance, you’re my dude!

    • Jenn DiMaria

      Oh, I would kill for Marketo’s landing page editor to be anything near what Unbounce’s is like. Luckily, there’s an integration for that :) But trying to convince people I need to pay for two services is a hurdle I can’t jump. Part of that’s because I hate working out, though.

    • Brad Tiller

      Are you implying that there was some ulterior motive to us running this contest? That there was any impurity in our desire to discover and crown a copywriter who could woo us with tales of a humble robotic vacuum that features a docking port for your iPhone® 5, 5S, 6, or 6 Plus (sold separately)?

      We would never.

  15. Jen

    Congratulations to everyone who got chosen as finalists! I hear what Lance is saying. It’s easy to critique. Writing spot on copy is the tough part. Take the critiques as genuine feedback and not meant to rip anyone apart.

    I think the big takeaway from this exercise is that lack of clarity is what all of the judges keyed into. Whenever I’m writing any copy I have to continually ask myself, “Is this super clear?” “Does it immediately tell people exactly what they need to know?”

    Even if you know what you mean, the visitor may not. That’s why being too clever with your copy can backfire. Go for straightforward first and then see where and how you can infuse personality without compromising the message.

    Hope this helps!

    • Brad Tiller

      It’s definitely easy to critique, but it’s difficult to critique well, and we were careful to select judges who have actually written a ton of copy themselves. That said, I like some of the suggestions that they take a shot at this particular landing page — the results could be pretty hilarious.

    • Dan Levy

      Great points, Jen. Thanks again for participating!

  16. Shana Haynie

    Just a little critique from my end, people are finding it difficult to vote. I’m having people go to this page, but they are telling me they can’t find where to vote. I don’t mean to sound like a brat, but I’ve had over 120 clicks to this page, but only 40 votes. There’s a huge disconnect here. Maybe next time the design of the voting page should be more intuitive and fair for the people near the bottom. While I’m near the top, I totally agree that being near the top is a little bit of an advantage, and I also think that at this point, it really comes down to how much you want to annoy your friends and family, not on how good your copy actually is.

    • Brad Tiller

      Hey Shana! We definitely hear your feedback and will consider it going forward. This is the first competition like this that we’ve hosted, and there’s definitely room for improvement.

      Thanks for your comment, and best of luck!

  17. Momoko

    Fun experiment! Enjoyed reading both the treatment copy and the expert feedback.

    A suggestion for the next one (and possibly for other “tear-down” type content):

    I wonder whether the actionable take-aways from these “tear-downs” could be improved by including the following:

    1) A pre-defined persona of the target reader (fictional is fine)

    2) A set of say, 3-5 attributes the experts could rate on a scale of 1-5, with an explanation for each rating. So treatment copy could be rated on, for example:

    – Clarity of benefit
    – Clarity of offer
    – Message/reader motivation matching
    – Vividness of imagery

    Having a defined persona as part of the test would make it easier for experts (and contestants) to objectively gauge if the copy is on target on not, rather than base their evaluation on how the copy appeals them personally.

    Including a clear set of CRO attributes to rate & discuss would help keep the conversation focused on the key conversion-critical aspects of the copy (aka. motivation, value, anxiety, incentive, friction).

    That said, I also dig Lance’s suggestion of just putting copy straight to the test with some PPC ads :D


    • Dan Levy

      Hey Momoko, those are really great suggestions (as is Lance’s PPC campaign idea). We tried to keep things as simple as possible this time around, but lots to consider for the next one. Thanks for the feedback – hope we get a chance to meet up at CTAconf this year :)

  18. James Chartrand

    Congratulations to everyone who gave this copywriting challenge a shot – it certainly wasn’t an easy one, and I hope the practice work and feedback helped provide some insights on what’s important to add into good copy!

    As a judge, I have newfound respect for trying to cram value for participants into just a few short words – we all did the best we could, given the limitations.

    For expanded feedback, I think the big takeaway is that it’s easy to add features into copy, but powerful, compelling benefits are key to making visitors want to learn more and engage.

    And clear copy is always more desirable than clever copy. Clever wording can be fun, but clear copy always gets the message across, and that’s what leads more people to action.

    Again, I think participants did a great job, and I had a lot of fun looking entries over and reading the comments and feedback. Well done, everyone!

  19. Dan Levy

    Thank YOU for participating, James. Totally agree that it was harder than I thought it would be to provide useful feedback while also acknowledging the limitations of the format and everyone’s considerable creativity. I’ve never been more impressed by the skill and insight of this community, as evidenced by this awesome comments thread. Already looking forward to the next contest!

  20. Max Kitchen

    Right then. Let’s see if the judges can do any better then. Show us what you’ve got guys.

  21. Henneke

    Congrats to Unbounce for organising this contest – it’s such a fun idea. I love Lance’s suggestion for a PPC campaign as the ultimate judges are always the people who decide to buy (or not).

    I’d also like to vote for Momoko’s suggestion to have a pre-defined target audience as that would help both participants and judges.

    Congrats to everyone who made the final!

  22. Josh Greene

    Strict judgements but very fair.
    “First, think carefully about the pronoun.” – that was a good one.

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  24. mikhail

    The site of the credits to the population, on the site, anyone can get credit

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  26. Linden

    Haha, there was some good puns in these. I have to say that #4 made me laugh. I think #9 might be the best out of the ten though.

  27. Chavdar Iliev

    Interesting contest. I think #1 has a grate headline but it is way too busy and #10 the font is not readable. I like the CTA of #5. Maybe a combination will work best. How about let the visitors decide the winner and run a split test but test only one element change?

  28. Paul Tufts

    Once again Unbounce proves themselves to be the leader in innovation and understanding when it comes to pages and conversion stats. I have been a client for a while and have been very happy with the results – keep up the good work.